If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | Summer 2018
When folks chat about their favorite Independence Day memories, three things are invariably included: BBQ, fireworks and music. Every season I thrill at putting together a sizzling selection of great American music worthy of a long rack of slow-cooked ribs, and a Rozzi extravaganza that bookends a perfect Fourth of July concert. But what is it that makes Patriotic Pops uniquely “American”? First of all, there are all the classic songs we’ve learned since childhood, from “My Country ‘tis of Thee,” to “God Bless America” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”; these songs celebrate the ideals of freedom and justice to which we all aspire. Then there are the marches. I mean, you gotta have favorites by Cincinnati’s own, Henry Fillmore, George M. Cohan, and “The March King” John Philip Sousa. Besides the beloved encore of “Stars and Stripes Forever” there are a dozen other marches that are practically hard-wired in our collective consciousness—though you may not know the title, you’ll still be able to cue the bass drum or cymbals when they have their big solo! Finally, there are the new classics: film scores and pop anthems that give a fresh perspective to our shared American experience.
What makes our Cincinnati Pops Patriotic Pops concerts consistently fabulous? It’s the special flavor of our orchestrations and the extraordinary guest artists who join us on stage at Riverbend. This year, it’s the United States Army Chorus performing with spit-shine musicianship and ensemble. The grandeur of their vocal arrangements creates a sumptuous blend with the Pops and is a thrill to behold. Which leads us to what makes our “Cincinnati Pops” sound so special—it’s taking that great American music and bathing it in rich orchestral color. We all know and love our patriotic favorites, but when they are performed by the Pops they possess a sound that is uniquely evocative and moving. We present music in styles that reflect the many facets of our American musical ethos. That’s why you’ll hear the sounds of R&B, bluegrass, jazz, gospel and rock n’ roll in all of our patriotic performances. This is our music: styles that could have only happened here, where people from around the world have rubbed elbows for a dozen generations and created a musical voice that celebrates our shared values, hopes and dreams. This is why our Cincinnati Pops July 4 concert at Riverbend has become such a beloved Cincinnati tradition: it’s where we all gather in an extended American family reunion and revel in the spectacular music that brings us closer together.