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Pops at the shop: Relocated concert a hit at Transportation Museum

SPENCER — At the far end of the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s Back Shop on Saturday, Salisbury Symphony conductor David Hagy turned and faced a crowd of hundreds.

The group had amassed for the 15th annual Pops at the Post concert, a production began to celebrate the Salisbury Post’s 100th year in operation. True to its name, the free concert has been held every year on the Post’s loading dock.

Every year but this one, that is. This year’s Pops concert was temporarily relocated due to planned construction of the new Bell Tower Green downtown park.

“Who knew?” said Hagy. “Who knew when we started this concert 15 years ago … that we would end up here?”

Hagy has spoken of his serendipitous discovery of the acoustics of the Post’s loading dock when the concert began. Talking and walking with event planners on where to hold the celebration, the group stepped outside. And what Hagy heard, he said, gave them their answer — and the concert’s namesake.

While the larger, enclosed space of the Back Shop at the N.C. Transportation Museum was not so acoustically inclined, Symphony Executive Director Bill Bucher said the space had worked out thanks to some “engineering magic.”

And, Bucher said, the venue offered more reasons for excitement and enthusiasm — larger spaces for tailgating and a covered space for inclement weather to name a few.

But the weather proved not to be an issue.

“We basically hit a jackpot when it comes to weather this year,” said Bucher, citing the evening’s balmy 80-degree temperature.

As homage to the change in location, Hagy’s line up of musical numbers were themed around travel. He called the concert the “Railway Edition.”

But songs included more than just train track nods like a train medley featuring the “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” There were nods to travel by air and by sea — the theme to space travel show “The Orville” and music from “Titanic.”

Transportation Museum Executive Director Kelly Alexander said it had been of dream of hers to have the symphony perform on the site.

“Even though it’s not indefinite, we’re glad to have them while we can,” Alexander said.

And, Alexander said, she wouldn’t discard the notion that something else might develop through the chance partnership.

For Spencer residents Sam and Sherry Morgan, a Transportation Museum-based symphony event might have been just what the area needed.

The couple, along with daughter Lauren West, had attended the concert for several years in its original location — Sherry traveled with a collection of fans from prior year concerts as proof. The fans serve as printed programs for the musical show.

“What’s hurt Salisbury and Spencer the most over the years has been a lack of large, outside venue for large-scale events,” said Sam. “Having it in on a small loading dock was really not the best atmosphere. I think moving it they’ll have twice as many people.”

Sherry agreed.

“We were excited to learn that it was moving here,” she said. “And it was more than just because we’re from Spencer and wanted the opportunity for the town. Having it here, there’s more places to park, making a bigger opportunity for people in general to come out and enjoy it.”

And judging by the masses in lawn chair and blankets to fill the space, the pair were right.

“We’ll definitely move back to the Post once it’s all said and done with, but I can’t say there won’t be some feeling that we’ll miss this space when we do,” Bucher said. “As a temporary respite, it’s been a delightful change of pace.”

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