Pops at the Post Comes Home

by | Aug 25, 2021 | Arts

Pops at the Post is Back Home, Live and in Person for 2021.

This year’s concert on Sept. 11, will “Remember, Recognize and Rejoice,” remembering the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, recognizing all the health care workers “who have so arduously fought the pandemic, and rejoicing over the opening of Bell Tower Green,” says Maestro David Hagy, who will conduct the performance, now in its 17th year.

Hagy, conductor of the Salisbury Symphony, is excited about the selection of music he has chosen. Joe Morris, chair of the Pops at the Post (https://www.facebook.com/PopsatthePost/) committee, says it will be great getting the concert back to downtown Salisbury.

Jason Walser, who has spearheaded the work at Bell Tower Green (https://belltowergreen.com/ or https://m.facebook.com/BellTowerGreen/ ) is “expecting this to be a very positive, uplifting, exciting and inspiring inaugural event at Bell Tower Green … one of the most festive events ever.”

The park “was 270 years in the making; we have a lot of hopes and expectations,” Walser says.

Would you like to listen to the Pops, while donating to the Pops and getting a great reserved spot next to the park??
Limited amount of tailgating spaces available:

Conductor David Hagy leads the music at the Salisbury Symphony's Pops at the Post with a crowd behind them watching.

Lots of Musicians

The concert will include members of the Salisbury Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony, meaning too many people to fit in the new band shell at Bell Tower Green. But Hagy loves the acoustics of the Salisbury Post loading dock on South Church Street, and says the musicians do, too.

Salisbury Swing Band (www.salisburyswingband.com or https://m.facebook.com/SalisburySwingBand/) will be at the band shell in the park to kick things off at 5 p.m.

All the features concertgoers have come to love will be back, organizers say, though a few details still need to be worked out.

There will be food and drink vendors and spots for tailgating. A helicopter will land in the former Wells Fargo parking lot, now called Park Place; a portion of one of the beams from the World Trade Centers will be brought to the park area, thanks to help from the Salisbury Fire Department.

Hoping for Flyover

The committee is working on a military flyover by an East Rowan graduate who wants to donate his time to the event. Because of that, the actual Pops concert will start at 7 p.m., so the plane can fly over before sunset, Hagy said.

He checked the time of the sunset on the last weekend of April to compare it to the sunset in September. “The musicians may have the sun in their eyes for a little while, then it will be fine.” The sunset will be at 7:35 p.m.

Since this is the first year with Bell Tower Green part of the concert, it will be a learning experience for the committee, said Audrey Eudy, vice chair. Plans are set for where things will be around the park, but they are open to changes.

Concertgoers should stop by the Pops tent to pick up the traditional fan programs and a special section about Pops at the Post by the Salisbury Post (www.salisburypost.com).

A Day to Remember

The committee ended up choosing Sept. 11 for the Pops after looking at a variety of other dates and events, including the Cheerwine festival (https://cheerwine.com/festival/ ) on Sept. 18. Morris said they also considered the status of the Covid-19 pandemic and the availability of vaccines.

Gov. Roy Cooper has been invited, Morris said, “and he’s penciled it on his calendar. We just don’t know yet.”

Hagy is excited about the program and the theme and the park.

Some pieces at the Pops will be favorites that always make the program, including Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and “The Salisbury Post March,” which is actually “The Washington Post March” by John Philip Sousa, and the Carmen Dragon arrangement of “America the Beautiful.”

Also returning is the John Williams concert version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Setting the Mood

The first three pieces, Hagy said, will be a remembrance of New York, with a medley of four songs, including what he calls “the saddest song ever done at the Pops.” Kristy Jackson of Greensboro wrote “Little Did She Know (She Kissed a Hero),” describing the last phone call made by the pilot who crashed the plane in Pennsylvania. “It’s a devastating song, and Caroline Stephenson will sing it for us. … The song is appropriate. You can’t remember and recognize 9-11 without noting the loss.”

Another song honoring the victims of 9-11 will be by Eric Ewazen, who wrote the song the day after the attacks. It was arranged for orchestra by Hagy’s former conducting teacher, Otto-Werner Mueller. “A Hymn for the Lost and the Living” moves us in a direction we need to move, Hagy said. “It transcends the loss and moves us forward.”

A Little Nostalgia

Then Hagy will take a break with a tribute to the most popular album of 1971, “Tapestry,” by Carol King. He arranged the songs “I Feel the Earth Move” and “You’ve Got a Friend” when he was in high school, 50 years ago. Hagy just returned from his high school reunion and wanted to include a tribute to her and a reminiscence for him.

The next selections will be about doctors, including bits of the themes from M*A*S*H*, “Suicide is Painless;” “Quincy, M.E.” that has a “jazzy shuffle”; and the themes from “Doogie Howser” and “Patch Adams.”

The first half ends with the “Polovtsian Dances” from an opera by Russian composer Borodin. In this piece, you’ll recognize “Strangers in Paradise,” Hagy said. The dances provided the melodies in the musical “Kismet.”

Familiar Favorites

The second half will include old favorites that return every year, and a tribute by film composer John Williams that will cover 24 Academy Award-winning movie pieces in six minutes, including the shower scene from “Psycho” and the heart-pounding music from “Jaws.”

Two encores are planned after “The 1812 Overture.” One will be the piece John Stafford composed for the Bell Tower four years ago.

“We were concerned and wanted to make it (the concert) joyful, but if we recognize and remember 9-11, that has to be a moment that is tearful. I was excited about the challenge to do that, and I think we have achieved it.”


An overview of Bell Tower Green from above West Innes St.

Great way to start

Walser sees this as just the beginning of events for the park. “We envisioned Easter sunrise services, New Year’s Eve, a place to celebrate, recreate and protest. Pops at the Post is the signature event for the community.”

The park is not 100 percent complete, Walser said, but it never will be. “It will always be dynamic,” with lighting, plantings and other things changing over time.

The park’s water wall will be functioning, with bathrooms behind it and for this event, plenty of temporary toilets.

“It’s rare to be able to build a park one block off the main downtown street. We feel great that our vision is of a 100-200-year park.”

– Carolina Artists Expo 2021 Art Show and Sale, Sept. 15-17 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Salisbury Civic Center, https://www.facebook.com/thecarolinaartists/

– “Sonnets for an Old Century,” Catawba College, Florence Busby Corriher Theatre, Sept. 23-25, 7:30 p.m., Sept. 26, 2:30 p.m.  From Obie Award-winning playwright José Rivera comes a timeless look at humans in transition. This is a flexible grouping of “little songs” full of sound and fury — sometimes love poems, sometimes laments, always meditations on human existence. A diverse cast of actors speak their truths, make their statements, and give their side of the story, reflecting on the messy, melancholy, glorious, and joyful complexities of what it means to be human in an increasingly chaotic world.

Image of a black flyer with words in white "Sonnets for an Old Century".

This remarkable piece of theatre reminds us that “our words go out into the universe…like rain,” so in the often dizzying disorientation of transitional times, we must be mindful of the echoes that we leave behind. For tickets: https://catawba.universitytickets.com/w/event.aspx?id=1404&p=1 or call 704-637-4481 or email boxoffice@catawba.edu

– Postponed: “Miss Nelson is Missing” in the schools and at the Norvell Theater has been postponed to 2022. www.piedmontplayers.com.

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About The Author

Deirdre Parker Smith

I grew up in the theater; my father was a set designer and my mother was an actress. My most magical memories are from the days when we worked on stage and backstage together. My father, James “Parkie” Parker was a well-respected member of the theatre arts department at Catawba College for 33 years. Though I was born in New York City, and lived for a time in Washington, D.C., I graduated from Salisbury High School and Wake Forest University and was a writer and editor at the Salisbury Post for 35 years. Watching talented people do their thing is a great joy — acting, singing, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, writing. I’ve been lucky to meet many awesome creative people over the years. Art, in all its forms, heals people, makes connections and gives us a deep joy.