GR Symphony Unveils 25th Anniversary Picnic Pops Season

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GR Symphony Unveils 25th Anniversary Picnic Pops Season

Twenty-five years ago, along the banks of Bear Creek, just west of the village of Cannonsburg, the Grand Rapids Symphony stepped on stage beneath a new outdoor band shell, and a new West Michigan summer tradition was born.

Pianist Rich Ridenour was soloist in Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," and the night ended with a pyrotechnic display over the hills of Cannonsburg Ski Area.

This summer, the 25th season of the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens much as it did in July 1995 with Ridenour, 'Rhapsody in Blue' and the rockets' red glare as part of a star-spangled, spectacular salute to America.

Four weeks of "Symphony under the Sky" also features, from Liverpool, the music of The Beatles; from Detroit, a salute to Motown's greatest hits; and from Nashville, a special one-night only appearance starring the singer-songwriters who wrote the hits that made Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw famous.

Held on Thursdays and Fridays in July, the Picnic Pops season opens with Classical Fireworks: Salute to America on July 11-12. Rock rolls on with Classical Mystery Tour: 50 Years of The Beatles' White Album on July 18-19, followed by Motown ... The Greatest Hits of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Four Tops and More! on July 25-26.

Capping off the summer is Nashville: The Songwriters. Their Stories. The Symphony, starring the Music City Hit-Makers for one night only on Friday, Aug. 2.

Season tickets offering substantial discounts, as well as single tickets for Music City Hit-Makers go on sale today. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to Single tickets for the rest of the 2019 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops go on sale on Wednesday, May 1.

Classical Fireworks welcomes Grand Rapids native son Rich Ridenour, a frequent performer in the early years of Picnic Pops, returns to Cannonsburg to play Rhapsody in Blue. Associate Conductor John Varineau will lead the orchestra in such patriotic melodies as John Williams' Liberty Fanfare, John Phillip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever and an Armed Forces Salute along with music by Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture leading to a fireworks finale sponsored by Lacks Enterprises.

Classical Mystery Tour, the world's best Beatles show with symphony orchestra, returns for its fourth Picnic Pops appearance at Cannonsburg in a show that will be the 100th concert in the history of the Grand Rapids Symphony's Picnic Pops. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, a huge Beatles fan himself, will lead music from the Fab Four's celebrated White Album with songs including While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Motown ... The Greatest Hits welcomes three guest singers to Cannonsburg for songs including Diana Ross' Touch Me in the Morning, Stevie Wonder's Superstition, The Four Tops' Reach Out/I'll Be There and Martha Reeves' Dancing in the Street. The special guest vocalists include Shayna Steele, who wowed the Picnic Pops audience in 2017 for Women Rock! and who also will be in DeVos Performance Hall this fall for Queens of Soul, a salute to the music of Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Adele, on Sept. 27-29 for the Grand Rapids Symphony's Fox Motors Pops Series.

Nashville: The Songwriters. Their Stories. The Symphony stars singer/songwriters Brett James who wrote The Truth for Jason Aldean, and Hillary Lindsey who wrote Blessed for Martina McBride. The two also collaborated on Jesus, Take the Wheel for Carrie Underwood. The show also stars Rivers Rutherford who wrote Living in Fast Forward for Kenny Chesney and Real Good Man for Tim McGraw. The three will join the Grand Rapids Pops to sing the songs and share stories about the singers and the scene where the Music City Hit-Makers reign supreme.

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