Columbia Orchestra offers 'everything for everyone'

Rob Zappulla, a featured vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra from 2001-2009, will join the Columbia Jazz Band for a tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Rob Zappulla, a featured vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra from 2001-2009, will join the Columbia Jazz Band for a tribute to Frank Sinatra. (Submitted photo)

The Columbia Orchestra has been doing so well at the box office that it's giving people two opportunities to hear its Symphonic Pops concert this weekend. The concert on Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., will be repeated on Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m., with both performances in the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School.

"Last year we sold out our pops concert, so this allows us to engage more people," explained Columbia Orchestra Music Director Jason Love. He noted that the added Sunday matinee should prove popular with senior citizens who prefer daytime driving.


Considering that the Rouse Theatre seats 750 people, a sold-out house is noteworthy. And it isn't just the annual pops concert that has been drawing a crowd. Love said that the orchestra's two most recent classical concerts sold out.

As he plans the upcoming season, Love acknowledged that "second dates are on the table" for an orchestra that typically only gives a single performance of each program.


Beyond the quantitative value of being able to accommodate more people, adding a second concert also has qualitative value for the musicians. As Love observed: "It's nice to be able to play it more than once."

It's easy to see why these Symphonic Pops concerts are an audience draw, because they encompass a lot of selections that are known to a broad public. Even by the eclectic standards of this format, however, the upcoming concert offers what Love characterized as "everything for everyone."

This musically diverse concert includes a St. Patrick's Day-pegged Celtic Celebration. The Teelin Irish Dance Company, a Columbia-based troupe under the direction of Maureen Gately, does numbers from "Riverdance" and "Lord of the Dance."

Also on the concert bill are Broadway show tunes from "My Fair Lady."

Moving from stage to screen, the orchestra also performs excerpts from the movie scores for "Jaws" and "Star Trek."

The 26-member Columbia Jazz Band and vocalist Rob Zappulla are doing a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Zappulla, who was featured vocalist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra from 2001 to 2009, certainly knows the big band songbook.

All of those musical components should add up to a really enjoyable show, but how does a music director ensure that the show flows smoothly and doesn't jump around?

"I try to find a logistical flow of pieces that make sense side by side," said Love.

He cited as an example how the concert-opening orchestral overture, the Prelude to Act 3 of Richard Wagner's opera "Lohengrin," will be followed by John Williams' instantly recognizable theme music from the movie "Jaws."

Music critics have noted that Williams' movie music has a Wagnerian quality, so directly linking him to Wagner in the upcoming program makes sonic sense. One suspects that Williams, whose professional credentials include a period as music director of the Boston Pops, would appreciate that sort of thematic link.

The musical links in this Symphonic Pops concert also involve linking a number of Howard County performers.

"It's really cool to do partnerships with local arts organizations, because they all bring different things to the concert," Love said.


He estimated that around 120 people will participate in the concert, but sounded a bit relieved when he added that they won't be "on stage at the same time."

The Columbia Orchestra performs Saturday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m., at the Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, in Columbia. Tickets are $10 to $25. Call 410-465-8777 or go to http://www.columbiaorchestra.org.

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