Merced Symphony pops concert will feature big hits from movies and musicals

Sun-Star correspondentJanuary 18, 2013 

— Relive favorite moments from "Harry Potter," "Star Wars" and "Superman" next Friday as the Merced Symphony Association celebrates the movies at its pops concert at Merced Theatre.

"Whether you enjoy heroic movie music, big band-style songs or musicals that have made it in the movies, you'll find it all here," association Music Director Henrik Hansen said.

In addition to familiar movie scores and jaunty big-band pieces, the concert will feature selections from musicals such as "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables." Lorraine Walsh will perform two of the most well-known arias from "Les Miserables," "Stars" and "On My Own."

"These tunes have stood the test of time and have become part of our culture," Hansen said. "She will also solo in some hilariously charming songs, performed in her own inimitable way, accompanied by the orchestra's pianist, Kate Janzen."

The evening will begin with a pre-concert reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the pops concert at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25.

Although the pops concert is the symphonic event open to the public, it will not be the only concert performed by the Merced Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 25. It will present two children's concerts for fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders from Merced County.

"It's often the only time these students get to hear a live orchestra," Hansen said. "Moving into the Merced Theatre, we can offer the experience to more children than before."

Before the concert, teaching materials will be distributed to prepare students for what they will see, hear and experience.

"They learn about the composers and instruments, as well as how an orchestra works," said Judy Edwina Smith, president of the symphony association board. "A CD of the program music helps the students to understand what they will hear at the concert.

"For many of these children, this will be the first time they experience live music in a beautiful theater, built for such performances," Smith said. "The historical building will add immeasurably to their overall experience."

More than 1,700 students from around Merced County will attend the Children's Concerts for free, thanks to sponsorships from the United Way Foundation, Merced County Office of Education and the Target Foundation.

In addition to music from "Harry Potter" and other movies, students will get to see a hip-hop dance performed by UC Merced students and watch Jim Kocher reprise his role as the Barber of Seville.

The Children's Concert provides a chance to honor the winners of the 2012 Youth Audition. Violinist Roger Xia took third place and pianist Kevin Wang second; cellist Nathan Hunsuck, who won the competition, will perform with the orchestra.

"He is a wonderful role model for other students who are taking music lessons already," Smith said, "and should inspire other students to sign up for band in fifth grade."

Hansen is thrilled the symphony association board decided to return to presenting an annual pops concert.

"The symphony used to do pops concerts, but we haven't for quite a while," he said. "I honestly hope that we again may be able to contribute to the Merced Community with these performances, because pops concerts are a lot of fun. You get to do all the things you normally can't do in a classical symphony concert."

The pops concert will be held Jan. 25 at the Merced Theatre. Pre-concert reception begins at 6:30 p.m. with the concert at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for students 25 years or under with proper ID. Buy tickets online at tickets.mercedtheatre.org.

For more information, call (209) 383-3277.

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