Sunday, March 10, 2002

Pops season a boon to baby boomers

Keillor, America among guest acts

By Janelle Gelfand,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        New acts with baby-boomer appeal will anchor the Cincinnati Pops' 2002-03 season.

        The Pops season will open Sept. 6-8 in Music Hall with radio personality Garrison Keillor, the voice of A Prairie Home Companion, heard weekly by 2 million listeners on more than 360 public radio stations, including WVXU-FM (91.7). Mr. Keillor was to have made his Pops debut in September of this season, but had to cancel when he underwent open-heart surgery. Philip Brunelle is guest conductor.

        On Oct. 6, the Canadian actor/comedian Martin Short, who began his career on SCTV Comedy Network and graduated to Saturday Night Live, will perform a one-night show. Mr. Short's film credits include Three Amigos, Inner Space, Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II, and he has written, produced and starred in three comedy specials for television. The Pops is a new gig for him, as he begins to expand his horizons into the orchestra world.

        David Briskin will conduct for Mr. Short.

        The '70s rock band America will make its first Pops appearance Oct. 18-20, with Pops maestro Erich Kunzel conducting.

        “They've had a lot of songs that they made famous through the decades, so it will be nice to have a little nostalgia,” says Mr. Kunzel, who will lead six of the nine concerts next season.

        America, with founding members Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell (Dan Peek went solo in '77), just celebrated its 30th anniversary. They'll perform classic hits with the orchestra, including “Horse with No Name,” “Ventura Highway,” “Tin Man” and “Sister Golden Hair.”

        The Pops' second half will include tunes from epic films such as Exodus, Out of Africa and Schindler's List.

        On Nov. 10, orchestra members Timothy Berens and Paul Patterson, will pick up their guitars for Mr. Berens' two-guitar arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The show, which will also include “Dueling Banjos,” music from Zorba the Greek and The Godfather, will go on the road Nov. 24, to the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, Shawnee State University, in Portsmouth.

        The Pops' holiday show Dec. 13-15 will be “the usual Erich Cecil B. DeMille Kunzel show,” Mr. Kunzel says. TV personality Nick Clooney will narrate “The Night Before Christmas.” The cast includes members of the music theater department from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Cincinnati Men's Chorus and Bell Choir, Winton Woods High School Chorus, Cincinnati Children's choir and tenor Kevin Anderson.

        On Feb. 2, 2003, Three Mo' Tenors will make their Pops debut with a diverse program, from “Nessun dorma'' to “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

        Mr. Kunzel will lead Broadway show tunes Feb. 21-23, with soprano Cynthia Watters, tenor David Fischer and baritone Daniel Narducci.

        Mr. Kunzel is planning “something a little bit off the wall” for concerts with The Flying Karamazov Brothers (March 16 and 23). It's a preview of the Pops' April Fool's Day concert in New York's Carnegie Hall.

        The season ends May 9-11, with the American guitarist Christopher Parkening. A Pops extravaganza of “orchestral blockbusters” will offer a marked contrast to the guitar's intimate sounds. The Cincinnati Brass Band and Ohio Valley British Brass Band will ring Music Hall “for a true surround-sound,” says Mr. Kunzel, as they play symphonic greats such as Respighi's Pines of Rome and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

        The Pops, which has recorded an impressive 70 albums on the Telarc label, will make two recordings next season: a disc of music from epic movies and one of orchestral masterworks.

        Telarc, a Cleveland-based record company, will release the Pops' 71st album, A Celtic Spectacular (with guest flutist James Galway, the Chieftains and tenor John McDermott) on March 26.

        Cincinnati Pops concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday in Music Hall.

        Subscriptions ($72.50 to $416) will be offered in series of five, seven or eight concerts, starting Monday. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 8. Tickets: 381-3300 or visit


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