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Pops in the Park marks ninth year

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer A tuba-playing member of the Valley Symphony Orchestra performs during a number at the Pops in the Park concert given for free last weekend.

It began with a musical flourish and ended with a military salute.

The ninth annual Pops in the Park concert presented by the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus was enjoyed by an audience of around 200 people Saturday, Sept. 12 at Cedaredge Town Park.

Conductor Michael Kern and the 40 accomplished orchestral musicians in the symphony set the musical tone for the evening with a medley tribute to the music of James Horner. It included theme music from the movies "Braveheart" and "Apollo 13," Kern explained. Horner, who died in a plane crash in June, is also known for the musical scores he composed for the films "Titanic," "A Beautiful Mind" and "Field of Dreams."

The concert also featured a "Tribute to the Big Apple" -- including the melodies of "New York, New York" from the 1944 musical "On the Town," and the theme from the Broadway musical "New York, New York" which was popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Kern explained to his audience that he hadn't realized when he prepared the evening's music score that the concert would be taking place the day after the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

As local music lovers enjoyed the almost two hours of performance by the symphony and chorus, they lounged in folding chairs, snacked on light picnic treats, and socialized with friends, family and neighbors.

Serving as emcee for the event, Bruce Hovde of Cedaredge recounted the chance meeting between himself and concert master Deb TenNapel on a town sidewalk nine years earlier. Their conversation led to the first Pops in the Park and the eight which have followed.

The musicians and chorus members bore all of their own expense to come from all around Delta and Montrose counties, and from Ouray and Grand Junction to perform the free community concert on a perfect summer afternoon and evening. Boy Scout Troop 482 of Cedaredge performed color guard duties.

Following the opening medley of James Horner melodies, conductor Kerns turned his musicians to another medley called "Summer Dances," appropriately named for the occasion. That was followed by a tribute to Louis Armstrong with music of "Hello Dolly;" the melancholy and bittersweet favorite "What a Wonderful World," and more music with a definite Dixieland flavor.

Another medley, "Superman Returns," featured iconic music by John Williams and others.

The Valley Symphony Chorus performed a selection of energetic and upbeat songs, some of them with an ethnic theme, before intermission.

Supporters of the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus sold homemade pie with ice cream as a fundraiser during the event.

Following intermission, the concert concluded with John Philip Sousa's "Liberty Bell," a tribute to American freedom, before the final selection of the music of Americana.

The signal from Mark Eckhart's scale-sized working cannon signaled the end of this year's performance.

But there was one more entertaining treat in store for concert goers. As the cannon shot rang out, a little black terrier named Yogi sitting quietly with his master was startled by the cannon blast. He took off like a cannon ball himself, and streaking across the grassy knoll in front of Centennial Bandstand he provided an entertaining finale to the evening, according to accounts of the happening.

This year marks the 45th anniversary season for the Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The Cedaredge free Pops concert performance was repeated in Montrose the following day in an outdoor venue at the Cobble Creek development. There will be a 45th Anniversary Gala performed in Montrose on Oct. 17. Following that, the regular concert season will begin with a performance on Oct 25, then proceed with performances on Dec. 5, Feb. 28, April 3, and April 23.

Full information and tickets are available at valleysymphony.net.

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Along with the music and song, there was dancing.
Photo by Hank Lohmeyer The annual Pops in the Park ended with its traditional military salute provided courtesy of Mark Eckhart of Cedaredge.
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