Picnic Pops opens with ‘Classical Fireworks’ best-of edition

The 18th annual D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops promises to provide some of the best summer entertainment in West Michigan, served family style in a relaxed, natural setting. The series opens with perennial audience favorite “Classical Fireworks.” Two performances, led by Music Director David Lockington, will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 12-13 at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

“Classical Fireworks” traditionally features dramatic, instantly recognizable musical works with a fireworks grand finale. This summer’s program is no different; however, the line-up reflects the best of “Classical Fireworks” programs from the concert series’ nearly two-decade history, including those works that have garnered some of the greatest audience response.

“Every year we pick our favorite orchestral pieces that first got us excited about orchestral music,” said Lockington. “They happen to still have broad appeal and we particularly want young people to grow up loving them as well.”

Audiences will hear Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Rossini’s Overture to “William Tell,” Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” the finale from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Mozart’s Overture to “Marriage of Figaro” and selections from John Williams’ “Star Wars.” In a special appearance, 14-year-old violinist Adé Williams will grace the stage with her interpretation of Vivaldi’s “Summer” from “The Four Seasons.”

Williams is the first-place laureate of the Junior Division of the 2012 Sphinx Competition. The Detroit-based Sphinx organization is a national nonprofit organization committed to building diversity in classical music through year-round programming in arts education, awareness and presentation.

“Classical Fireworks” has become known for its finale that features Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and a spectacular fireworks display. Trident Pyrotechnic Display has worked with the Symphony since 1983, and they plan to intensify the performance this year. Trident will launch a total of 3,718 aerial fireworks within a five- to six-minute period. Trident President Jack Stutting attributes his inspiration to Disney fireworks where several fireworks are launched together.

“In our line of business we have a saying: ‘The last impression is the best impression, the last seen is the last remembered,’” said Stutting. “I am doing something a bit different in the finale this year. It is going to be very dramatic.”

The grounds open each night at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking, pre-concert entertainment and free children’s activities. The family fun area, open from 5:30 to 7 p.m., features free children’s activities including face painting, crafts and an instrument petting zoo. Concertgoers may bring their own picnics or purchase grilled items and soft drinks at Cannonsburg’s concession stand. While alcoholic beverages may be brought onto the grounds, alcohol is not available for purchase. Parking is free. Pre-concert entertainment is the Steve Talaga Trio.

A variety of seating options are available. Reserved tables near the orchestra seat eight and must be reserved in advance. Chair seating is also available in a reserved, general admission area close to the stage. In the general admission lawn seating area, concertgoers may bring their own blankets or lawn chairs, and choose their spot.

Advance Lawn seats are $14 ($12 for students 16+/seniors 62+, or $5 children ages 2-15). Children under age 2 are admitted free on the lawn. Other prices are: $25 for chair seating; $42 for reserved table seats. Tickets increase by $2 if purchased on the day of the performance. Table and Chair seating is available through the Symphony box office at (616) 454-9451, ext. 4, and Lawn tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800-982-2787, at any Ticketmaster outlet or online at ticketmaster.com. Tickets are also available at the Cannonsburg box office beginning at 5:30 p.m. each concert evening.

“Classical Fireworks” is the first of four concert pairs to be performed at Cannonsburg Ski Area. Other concerts are: “The Music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons” on July 19 and 20; “A Tribute to John Denver” on July 26 and 27; and “Kansas-Live in Concert!” on Aug. 2 and 3.

The Grammy-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Led by Music Director David Lockington, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony sponsors the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit www.grsymphony.org.

These concerts are made possible with support from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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