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Pops at the Post goes digital for ‘home movies’ edition on Saturday

SALISBURY — Since 2005, strains of music have drifted through the downtown area during Pops at the Post events. Attendees tailgated and listened in the nearby parking lot across from the Salisbury Post building. Last year, the event was held at the Transportation Museum, but the community — and the music — remained.

As with so many familiar aspects of life, though, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes to the event, which was set to be at the Transportation Museum again this year.

“The difference is that we will not have a symphony available to us,” said Joe Morris, co-chair of the Pops at the Post board.

As the reality of the pandemic became clear, the fact that a live symphony would not be tenable also sank in. Symphonies require sitting close together and pushing air through tubes, he said. Even if an audience could social distance appropriately, a symphony cannot.

“It’s sort of a worst-case scenario in terms of spreading the virus,” Morris explained. “It’s certainly a safety thing.”

This year, the event is going to be virtual on  Saturday.

The question of how the concert might be virtualized originally came from event Co-chair Audrey Eudy, Morris said.

Usually, video footage of the event is broadcast onto large screens. Although the music is easy to hear for all, the screens ensure that audience members sitting farther away can still see, Morris said.

Mike Miller, who leads local marketing agency Miller-Davis and is a board member for Pops at the Post, has worked on the multimedia aspects of the program.

Usually, there are at least two cameras working the event, if not more. For one of those cameras, the projection required recording the images, Miller said. And Miller didn’t know until more recently that those tapes were not recorded over.

The event organizers decided that this footage could be used to make a virtual concert.

“Fortunately, we’ve had great community support,” Morris said, noting that the sponsors were supportive of the idea of a virtual event.

All of the video footage being used has good audio quality, Morris said.

However, since there is usually more than one camera at past live events, footage being shown isn’t always the same as what would have been broadcast at the event. As such, sometimes the camera might be focused on a violinists when the brass section is “doing something really amazing,” said David Hagy, Salisbury Symphony conductor.

“It’s an interesting view of the concert,” Hagy said.

Because of this quality of the videos, the name of the 2020 event is Pops at the Post Home Movies Edition.

Once the tapes were found, organizers had to comb through them, pick the songs to be featured and edit them together. Moreover, introductions are going to be edited in from various musicians, emcee Kent Bernhardt, Mayor Karen Alexander, and Hagy.

Miller and Hagy have done a lot of the work of picking the tapes and editing them together, Morris said.

“The excerpts we are using are from 2014, 2015 2018 and at the NC Transportation Museum last year 2019,” Miller said. “It’s a lot of piecing things together.”

Another thing that had to be sorted through was the copyright rights to broadcast some of the pieces, Morris said. Also, there was the question of the performers, whose original contracts did not include anything about later showing of the performances, Morris said.

The musicians were contacted to get permission and are being given small stipends, Hagy said.

The end product is going to a pre-made, single video that is going to be both streamed and broadcast.

The event will start at 7:30 p.m. with performances from Salisbury’s Swing Band. The symphony performance will start at 8 p.m. The video is going to be available online at PopsHomeMovieMemories.com and broadcast on the Hotwire network on channel 397 and on Spectrum Access 16, Miller said.

However, it is only available Saturday at 8 p.m.

“This can only be played one time. This will only be played one night at the time that is being broadcast and streamed,” Miller said. “Once it’s over, it’s over.”

For Hagy, the virtual concert offers a unique opportunity for faraway friends and relatives in California and Arizona to watch his work. Musicians in the symphony also are getting a unique chance to watch themselves perform, even as they might miss the camaraderie of playing music together, Hagy said.

For audience members, the concert isn’t the same as it has been for 15 years, Morris said. However, some aspects, such as tailgating outside, might be recreated at home with social distance.

“It’s a chance for the community to get at least a small taste of something that they have grown accustomed to and appreciate — so enjoy it,” he said.

Moreover, this year’s event serves as a bridge to next year’s Pops at the Post, Morris said. The changes this year might have put the best parts of the event, and why they are special, in sharper relief.

Morris hopes that community members enjoy this years event and anticipate the coming year, where the event is set to return to downtown at the new Bell Tower Green Park.

“We’re going to celebrate,” Morris said.

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