Pops at the Post draws large crowd for Hagy, music and community

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The June 1, 2024 Pops at the Post concert brought to a finale two decades of the outdoor Salisbury Symphony event with conductor David Hagy at the helm. And it was a concert that brought multiple standing ovations and encore calls before the final notes were played and the concert drew to a conclusion.

What began as a one-time celebration for the Salisbury Post’s 100th anniversary was continued due to popular demand by the community and marked its 20th anniversary Saturday.

The community came out to show their love for Hagy at his final Pops concert as well as to show their support for both the Salisbury Symphony and the Salisbury Swing Band. Chairs and blankets were spread throughout Bell Tower Green as people claimed space in the park, and others sat on benches, along the walls and some stood to hear the music of both groups.

Kyle Lentz and Rylee Arey said they came to hear the swing band play as Kyle’s dad, Keith Lentz, serves as drummer.

Kyle commented on how beautiful the park is and the fact that it’s a “great family atmosphere.”

Joel and Alice Ritchie were there to support both groups as Alice said her nephew David Cline plays saxophone for the swing band and noted they have been to most of the Pops at the Post events.

The variety of music and the atmosphere were two other draws to the event that Joel mentioned.

The Salisbury Swing Band, and vocalist Billie Jean Snuggs, entertained from 5-6:30 p.m. on the stage in the center of the park.

Dr. Frank Poolos, who is the band director, said the group has been together for more than 15 years and has been a part of the Pops at the Post for more than 10 of those.

“We love it. It’s a beautiful location” and being able to be there with all the variety of music, he said is “a blessing to share with the audience.”

Members of the Salisbury Symphony orchestra took their seats at the loading dock of the Salisbury Post building to begin playing at 7:30 p.m. with a concert featuring Hagy’s favorites.

They began, as has been the tradition over the years, with a concert version of the “Star Spangled Banner” and ended, prior to encores, with the “1812 Overture, the “Washington Post March” or as Hagy calls it the ‘Salisbury Post’ March” and Stars and Stripes Forever, which brought lots of clapping from the crowd.

Special features of this year’s event included the participation of Scout Troop 443 and the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard. Members of the two groups entered from opposite sides of the park and merged in the middle for the presentation of colors.

Others joining in the evening’s festivities were vocalists Vince Eury, Teresa Moore-Mitchell and Lauren Stephenson, each providing one solo performance, and returning after intermission to sing “Together Wherever We Go.”

Some seated on the front row watching the performance were Eury’s wife, Robin, mom, Mary Patterson, brother, DeMarshal Bowers and extended family members, Misty McDaniel and Grayson McDaniel and others who said they were there to hear him sing and “in support of the whole atmosphere.”

The concert was filled with many of Hagy’s favorite pieces, which served as the theme this year, and he shared what made them special. One such piece was entitled “Adventure on Earth” by John Williams from the movie, “E.T., the Extraterrestrial.” He  said, “I fell in love with it when I saw the movie,” sharing he had just seen it “with the New York Philharmonic playing the music in front of me. It was amazing!!”

Hagy described the scenes matching what they would be playing, and one could just imagine the action taking place from the movie as Hagy put his entire energy into the directing of the orchestra.

The pieces that were performed were varied ranging from jazz to rock, themes from “E.T.” and from “Star Trek” and songs that were quiet and calm to those with lots of movement such as one of their encore pieces, “Turkey in the Straw,” where people shouted out and clapped and others pieces where some were almost dancing in their seats to the music.

Multiple mentioned how thankful they were that the weather was nice and wasn’t raining like last year.

Regular Pops at the Post attendees, Desiree Hetrick and Cathy Tate, were there early, awaiting the start of the concert.

“I just love the symphony,” said Tate, and Hetrick said she had been seeing Hagy in concert for a long time and was “excited about seeing David’s last concert.” 

Rebecca Wells expressed her appreciation for the symphony as she said, “we love that Salisbury has a symphony and they put this on so people can be exposed and enjoy it,” to which her husband Mark Wells added, that those that don’t “know about (the symphony) can come and be exposed. It’s a great event,” he said.

Friends Marsha Collins, Deborah McLean and E.P. Ratledge were positioned so they could see both the band and orchestra perform. Collins said she loved both and the whole community atmosphere.

Ratledge said they had been to see fairly many concerts, one in particular he mentioned was “The Nutcracker,” and said “it was magical. David Hagy is awesome.”

Other regular symphony attenders, Jan and Harold Snider, were there as Jan said she “wanted to especially be here for David” since it was his last year, and Harold said he enjoyed the music and the camaraderie.

And that camaraderie was evident as people enjoyed visiting prior to the event and during intermission and one family took this opportunity to make it a combined 70th birthday get-together for Johnny Trexler, tailgating with lots of food and fun celebrating his special day at the special concert.

Another group, Brittany, Lexie and Ashlynn Vaughan, came to the park for a family picnic, unaware of all that was going on, they said with big smiles, but that it was indeed a bonus.

And there was a big surprise for Hagy as well that occurred during intermission as Mayor Karen Alexander went to the podium and stood beside him to read a proclamation on behalf of the Salisbury City Council, to honor him for “his work that has touched the lives of countless people” and that “he has consistently performed diverse and captivating concerts that leaves an indelible mark on Salisbury and Rowan County.”

He was credited with the start of both the Pops at the Post and helping to “bring the production of The Nutcracker Ballet to Salisbury, in collaboration with the Piedmont Dance Theater and through his vision, the performances have expanded to an annual tradition eagerly anticipated by our community.”

Alexander said it was with sincere appreciation and deep gratitude that they presented this proclamation and honored Hagy for giving “his energy, knowledge, time, talents and expertise for the benefits of others while serving his community” and concluded by wishing him the best and happiness in his retirement.

Before the crowds dispersed for intermission, Hunter Safrit, executive director of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, stepped up and called upon the orchestra to share their surprise to Hagy. They responded by playing a piece from the Ginger Suite, which, Safrit said, “was one of David’s favorites from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet.”

Throughout the concert, various sections of the orchestra were highlighted and Hagy praised them accordingly. One piece was “Uptown Funk,” when he said, “if you think our strings can’t walk, you are wrong.”

It was in the introduction of the Star Trek medley that he told the audience that this particular piece “couldn’t be done without the most amazing brass section, and we have them.
Hagy also praised the entire orchestra prior to playing “Turkey in the Straw” when he said, “see if this doesn’t show them off.”

As evening came and Hagy directed the final notes of the final encore piece, the audience gave a standing ovation, the orchestra applauded Hagy and someone in the crowd exclaimed that he was awesome, bringing the 20th annual Pops at the Post to its finale.