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Grand Rapids Pops plays the great musical themes from 'Star Wars,' 'Star Trek,' 'Lord of the Rings' and more, May 10-12

Music from 'Harry Potter,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' 'Superman' and many more films comes to Grand Rapids Pops stage May 10-12
Conductor Bob Bernhardt (third from left) leads the Grand Rapids Pops in 'Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth and More!'

Conductor Bob Bernhardt (third from left) leads the Grand Rapids Pops in 'Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth and More!' /Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

Coming next to the Grand Rapids Symphony's 2019 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops

Here's the lineup for the 25th anniversary season of 'Symphony under the Sky' at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

Classical Fireworks: Salute to America - Thursday and Friday, July 11-12, 8 p.m.

  • Pianist Rich Ridenour is soloist in George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Grand Rapids Pops in star-spangled favorites including An Armed Forces Salute, The Stars and Stripes Forever and God Bless America along with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture leading to the pyrotechnic display.

Classical Mystery Tour: 50 Years of The Beatles’ White Album - Thursday and Friday, July 18-19, 7:30 p.m.

  • Classical Mystery Tour, stars of such shows as Beatlemania on Broadway, play music from the Fab Four’s White Album, released in 1968, with such songs as Revolution, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and While My Guitar Gently Weeps along with the very best of The Beatles symphonic songs including Yesterday and A Day in the Life.

Motown - The Greatest Hits of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops and More, Thursday and Friday, July 25-26, 7:30 p.m

  • From the streets of Detroit, the music of Motown made such recording artists as Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and Smoky Robinson and the Miracles famous. Relive the magic of Motown with songs including I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and My Girl.

Nashville: The Songwriters, Their Stories. The Symphony, starring the Music City Hit-Makers - Friday, Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.

  • Singer/songwriters Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Rivers Rutherford have written songs for Nashville’s most iconic stars including Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum, racking up more than 15 that hit No. 1 on the charts. The three join the Grand Rapids Pops for the songs they wrote plus stories about the stars. 

Go online to PicnicPops.org for more information.

Grand Rapids Symphony encourages its audience to come in costume for its 2018-19 Fox Motors Pops series finale, May 10-12.

Grand Rapids Symphony encourages its audience to come in costume for its 2018-19 Fox Motors Pops series finale, May 10-12. /Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

Vocalist Mela Dailey, who last appeared in DeVos Hall in 2015, returns to the Grand Rapids Pops stage May 10-12.

Vocalist Mela Dailey, who last appeared in DeVos Hall in 2015, returns to the Grand Rapids Pops stage May 10-12. /Terry Johnston | Grand Rapids Symphony

At Disneyland, the grand opening of Galaxy Edge’s theme park, complete with new music, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite, by John Williams, is just weeks away.

In Grand Rapids, you can get your Star Wars fix in DeVos Hall this week, thanks to the Grand Rapids Pops.

Grand Rapids Symphony concludes its 2018-19 Fox Motors Pops series with Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth, and More! a musical salute to the symphonic soundtracks of some of the greatest films from such franchises as Star Trek and Lord of the Rings along with Star Wars.

The Grand Rapids Pops goes where no orchestra has gone before with highlights from Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Superman, the 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve.

Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt leads performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 10-11, and at 3 p.m. Sunday May 12, in DeVos Performance Hall. Tickets start at $18 adults, $5 children.

Special guest vocalist Mela Sarajane Dailey joins the Grand Rapids Symphony to sing Can You Read My Mind? from Superman. The Grammy Award-winning singer, who first appeared with the Grand Rapids Symphony for its Holiday Pops in 2015, also sings two show-stopping operatic arias, the “Mad Scene” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and “Vissi d’arte” from Verdi’s Tosca.

Bernhardt, who became Grand Rapids Symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor in 2015, last year marked his 25th anniversary as a guest conductor with the Boston Pops. Williams, who served as conductor of the Boston Pops from 1980 to 1993, personally hired Bernhardt in 1992 to guest conduct the famous pop orchestra.

Bernhardt, who often refers to Williams as “my hero,” has been friends with Williams for more than 25 years, ever since Williams, formerly conductor of the Boston Pops, first hired Bernhardt to guess conduct in Boston in 1992.

But Williams, a five-time Academy Award winner, is a hero to anyone who loves a good action and adventure film, whether it was composed by him or not. Before Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader spoke a line or even appeared on screen, it was Williams’ brilliant fanfare that jolted you out of your seat and set the stage for the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

The 87-year-old film composer, who is at work on the upcoming film The Rise of Skywalker, has said that the ninth film in the Star Wars series will be his last.

The 24-time Grammy Award winner gave birth to the soaring symphonic scores for the silver screen that soon would accompany epic adventures through space, heroic journeys across middle earth, and forays into the world of magic. Today, Williams, a 51-time nominee for the Oscar for film composition, is famous for such movies as the Indiana Jones series and the first two Jurassic Park films. In the mid-1970s, Williams was a rising star who won the Oscar for the 1974 film Jaws when Steven Spielberg invited him to compose the music for a new space adventure move.

To compose music for the first Star Wars film and another eight films in the franchise that would follow, Williams revived the practice of composing leitmotifs or “leading motifs” to represent each character. Star Wars fans are familiar with The Imperial March and know that it’s Darth Vader’s theme. The main theme for Star Wars actually is Luke Skywalker’s theme, and the theme is heard, played by a single French horn, when the young Skywalker first appears on screen.

Williams used the same technique, which dates back to the 19th century operas of Richard Wagner, in such franchises as Harry Potter, in which key themes appear over and over across all eight films, even those composed by others.

Grand Rapids Pops’ Star Wars, Star Trek, Middle Earth and More! includes music from the latest Star Wars installments including the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, the  2016 film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The concert also includes music from the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness and a medley of music spanning the entire Star Trek franchise.

Bernhardt will lead the Grand Rapids Pops in a suite of melodies from The Lord of the Rings films, all composed by Howard Shore, who won Oscars for the first film in the series, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and for the third film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

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