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Grand Rapids Symphony unveils 2016 Picnic Pops Season

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Classical blockbusters from the movies, music of Queen, music of Beach Boys all part of 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season

/Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

Underwriting support from:

Enjoy the Grand Rapids Symphony at Cannonsburg Ski Area this summer

Classical Fireworks - July 14-15

The Music of Queen - July 21-22

The Music of Beach Boys - July 28-29

/Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

/Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

The Grand Rapids Pops will rock you at the 2016 Picnic Pops.

New experiences and new sounds, including a tribute to the rock group Queen, are part of the 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

But old standbys, including one of West Michigan’s best fireworks show of the summer, also return in July for the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 22nd annual summer series that welcomes music of the Beach Boys back to the great outdoors.

The Grand Rapids Symphony has unveiled its three-concert season of shows happening on Thursday and Friday evenings. Two more special-event, one-night-only shows in early August will be announced soon.

Single tickets plus series tickets and flexpasses, offering substantial discounts, over single-ticket prices, all are on sale. 

The 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens July 14-15 with “Classical Fireworks” at 8 p.m.

Bob Bernhardt, Grand Rapids Symphony's principal pops conductor, will be on the podium for the show he describes as “classics go to the movies.”

“Wagner, Beethoven and Grieg were great film composers – and didn’t know it,” said Bernhardt who made his Picnic Pops debut last summer at Cannonsburg.

Popular orchestral favorites from movies, such as Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, which is heard in films including Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and What’s Opera, Doc, are part of the show.

“It’s almost all music not originally for film but for the concert stage,” Bernhardt said.

Two exceptions include music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, which were composed for film. Next season, the Grand Rapids Symphony will screen both films in their entirety, accompanied by live music, during the 2016-17 season indoors in DeVos Performance Hall.

Tchaikovsky’s stirring 1812 Overture, heard in many films but featured prominently in the 2006 film V for Vendetta, closes each night’s Picnic Pops concert with a pyrotechnic display.

Concerts include the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, featured prominently in The King’s Speech, in the climactic scene in which King George VI addresses the nation on radio that the United Kingdom is at war with Nazi Germany.

“Every concert needs moments of reflection,” said Bernhardt, who returns for his second Picnic Pops season with the Grand Rapids Symphony.

The 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops continues July 21-22 at 7:30 p.m. with We will Rock You! The Music of Queen.

Special guests Jeans ‘n Classics return to Grand Rapids for such hit music as Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, You’re My Best Friend, and We Are the Champions led by associate conductor John Varineau.

The Canadian rock group appeared previously with the Grand Rapids Symphony in a tribute to the music of Elton John in 2010 and in a salute to songs from the James Bond series of films in 2009. Led by guitarist and arranger Peter Brennan, Jeans ‘n Classics is back with a new show with songs made famous by the glam rock band of the 1970s and 1980s.

The three-concert season ends July 28-29 at 7:30 p.m. with The Music of the Beach Boys featuring the veteran surf rock band Papa Doo Run Run, which was at Cannonsburg in July 2011 for the Grand Rapids Pops summer season.

Launched in the 1960s in Cupertino, California, Papa Doo Run Run toured behind Jan & Dean and spent 15 years as the celebrity house band at Disneyland. The group earned a Top 40 hit with their cover of Be True to Your School, plus a Gold Record and Grammy Award nomination for the 1985 recording, California Project. Several members of the group have toured and recorded with Brian Wilson and with other incarnations of the Beach Boys. Miller Johnson and Mary Free Bed are benefactor sponsors for Papa Doo Run run’s return to West Michigan.

Plan ahead and save up to 28 percent with a 3-Concert Series subscription or save up to 17 percent with a 6-ticket Flexpass. Single tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors, and $5 for children age 2 through 18. All tickets are $5 more the day of the concert. Children younger than age 2 are admitted free.

Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 for tickets and more information.

Gates at Cannonsburg Ski Area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.

Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers.

We’ll see you soon at Cannonsburg.


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