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If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! May 2016


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Wow! Another Pops season has nearly come and gone, and the musical memories will continue to resonate in Music Hall until we all return in the fall of 2017. In the meantime, summer is soon upon us with a spectacular line-up of amazing artists and concerts that will keep the party rolling both at Riverbend and in our new home-away-from-home, the Taft Theatre.

We kick off the Summer of Pops in the air-conditioned comfort and splendid acoustics of the Taft Theatre June 10–11, with John Williams’ magnificent score from Steven Spielberg’s classic film E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial performed live, in synch with the film. Grab your popcorn! This is only the fourth film in history to win the Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and BAFTA awards for best cinematic score, and I can’t wait to conduct our Pops in this extraordinary event. Now that we’ll be performing at the Taft Theatre, in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, you’ll probably see me heading over to Graeter’s after the show!

Kristin Chenoweth, one of the most distinctive voices and ebullient characters on Broadway, motion pictures and television, performs with the Pops at Riverbend on June 25. Whenever she performs with the Pops, the sparks fly! Broadway at Riverbend is a Pops tradition, and I’m delighted Kristin will be bringing to the stage her numerous hits from some of the most beloved works of musical theatre.

Patriotic Pops on July 2 continues our legacy of over-the-top Independence Day-themed concerts at Riverbend, and this year we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our nation’s USO. The United Service Organization has long engaged the greatest stars in entertainment to “take home on the road” for the troops, including Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Kaye, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Pointer Sisters, Robin Williams, and more recently, Gary Sinese, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood, to name just a few. There will be more than a few surprises, stirring patriotic orchestral works and a dazzling fireworks show after the concert. It’s one of Cincinnati’s most revered traditions, and honoring the USO and its extraordinary service to our military heroes will be extra meaningful to us all.

Speaking of fireworks, the Pops returns to Great American Ball Park on July 15 for what has become our annual Fireworks Friday concert immediately after the Reds game. Baseball, fireworks and the Pops beside the Ohio River—it just doesn’t get more All-American (OK, you’ll have to BYO apple pie). And no matter the outcome of the game, you can bet the Pops will remain undefeated!

We wrap up our Riverbend season on July 24 with THE Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The #1 vocalist of all time makes her Pops debut, and Cincinnati will NEVER be the same. I’m getting chill bumps just thinking about it! Folks often ask me, “So John, who is the BIGGEST star you’ve ever wanted to work with?” Ladies and gentlemen, Aretha is it; sharing the stage with her will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

I am also thrilled about the remarkable line-up for next season at the Taft Theatre, including Vanessa Williams, Smokey Robinson, Ben Folds and our big orchestral spectaculars like Holiday Pops and the music of Hollywood and Broadway. The virtuosity, sublime musicianship and beauty of our Orchestra will be resplendent in our home-away-from-home, which will make the new season at the Taft a singularly memorable magnum opus.

But lest we forget, we have one more Pops debut at Music Hall to share with you THIS season: Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her blend of country, pop and folk has landed her a spot in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and her new orchestral album will be perfect for this one-night-only performance.

Happy listening!!

JMR