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Columbia Orchestra pops concerts appeals to variety of tastes

Howard County Times

Whatever your personal musical taste, there's a good chance the Columbia Orchestra will appeal to it at some point during the eclectic Symphonic Pops concert it has planned for Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Rouse Theatre.

"The nice thing about a pops concert is that we can have a lot of different kinds of popular music. There's not too much of any one thing and it keeps moving," observed Columbia Orchestra music director Jason Love.

Aaron Copland's fast-moving "Rodeo," for instance, is a short and lively piece of classical music so instantly recognizable that it qualifies as an iconic part of mid-20th-century American pop culture.

Also possessing considerable popular appeal are the movie scores that will be sampled in a symphonic medley that includes music from "Dr. Zhivago," "Rocky," "Ben Hur," and "The Force Awakens."

In addition to having that Hollywood section, the upcoming program goes to Broadway when the Canadian husband-and-wife vocal duo of tenor Frederic Rey and soprano Julie Hiscox perform several songs from Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story."

Although it is quite common for symphony orchestra pops concerts to dip into Broadway and Hollywood repertory, the Columbia Orchestra will also be venturing into a genre less frequently sampled in such concerts: country music.

This happens when vocalist Karen Steelman does a few songs made famous by the late country music legend Patsy Cline.

"I'm not a big country music fan at all, but I love Patsy Cline. Patsy is a favorite among classical musicians. Her voice was so phenomenal. Her talent was universal," Love said.

Although typically classified within the country category, Cline's hits crossed over to the pop charts. Moreover, her recordings often featured lush arrangements that lend themselves to orchestral versions.

Where the venerable tradition of classical music is concerned, the Columbia Orchestra program also features two winners of its Young Artists competition playing music from the standard repertory.

Asha Kline, 14, who is an eighth-grade student at Burleigh Manor Middle School, will play the first movement of Antonio Vivaldi's Bassoon Concerto in E minor.

Sean Li, 16, who is a junior at Centennial High School, will play Alexander Glazunov's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra.

The Columbia Orchestra performs on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Rouse Theatre, 5460 Trumpeter Road in Columbia. Tickets are $28 and $22, $24 and $18 for seniors, $12 and $10 for students. Call 410-465-8777 or go to

Looking further ahead, the Columbia Orchestra will be doing its part to observe Columbia's 50th birthday celebration with a free concert at the newly-built Chrysalis in Symphony Woods on June 21 at 7 p.m. Considering the festive identity of that pops concert, the audience will be primed to hear selections including Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."

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