Sunday, March 2, 2003

Pops presents epic sounds of movies, mariachi, yodeling

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mariachi Cobre adds hip south-of-the-border sounds to the Cincinnati Pops next March.

Maureen McGovern, Lee Roy Reams and the hip sounds of Mariachi Cobre join New York Policeman/tenor Daniel Rodriguez as some of the stars of the Cincinnati Pops' 2003-04 season.

Pops conductor Erich Kunzel, who is the most successful Billboard magazine classical crossover recording artist in history, will make albums No. 74 and 75 with Telarc next year: a disc of film suites by Hollywood composer Miklos Rosza and music from the ballet. Worldwide, the Pops has sold more than 8 million recordings.

The Rosza scores are "gigantic," says Kunzel, who will conduct seven of the season's eight concerts next year. "He made a suite (for orchestra) from his epic films, but I don't think they've been done since the films. We've amassed a huge chorus, because that's the type of sound he wanted. There will be 400 to 500 singers onstage, from all over the city."

Holidays and festivals

Attention yodelers: The Pops season will open Sept. 5-7 with "Oktoberfest Zinzinnati Pops" - with an onstage yodeling contest. Guest stars the Sonnenschein Express are expected to bring their alphorns and cowbells, and there will be a large helping of local German talent.

The October show (Oct. 10-12), starring vocalist McGovern, will salute Ohio's bicentennial with a world premiere for narrator and orchestra by Cincinnati native Joseph D. Price (also known as the Pops arranger). McGovern, a Youngstown native, is celebrating her 30th year in show biz.

The Pops, which added a performance to this season's December holiday show, will expand to five shows, Dec. 11-14 (including a Sunday matinee), next year.

The holiday extravaganza will star Tony-nominated and longtime Broadway star/director Reams, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Covington native. Kunzel plans to bring back students from the CCM Music Theatre Department, because, he says, "I just so love to work with them."

Reams, who is touring in the national show The Producers, will lead a cast of local talent, including the Miami University Steel Band; the May Festival Chorus under Robert Porco; the School for Creative and Performing Arts Children's Choir, directed by Laurie Wyant; and life-size puppets from Jerry Handorf's Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre.

Ballet and Broadway

Two Sundays in February - Feb. 1 and 8 - will be "Broadway Night" at the Pops, with the music of Loesser and Loewe (Guys & Dolls, Camelot, My Fair Lady). Pops regulars Kathleen Brett, Richard Troxell and Daniel Narducci will return to sing with the May Festival Chorus.

On Feb. 27-29, the Pops will salute Cincinnati Ballet with a mixture of classics, such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, says Kunzel, and more modern ballet music. Artistic director Victoria Morgan and her dancers will collaborate in the program.

On March 14, the Pops goes south of the border with Mariachi Cobre, a resident ensemble from Walt Disney World's Epcot Center that has recorded and toured with the Boston Pops.

Two Sundays in April (April 18, 25) will be devoted to swing, with guest conductor Jeff Tyzik on the podium (he's principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic) and the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble New York Voices. Their Pops debut will include "Sing, Sing, Sing," "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Stardust," plus standards by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and more.

The singing policeman

The season concludes May 14-16 with Rodriguez, the tenor who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" in Yankee Stadium just days after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. Shortly after that, the New York police officer had an audition with tenor Placido Domingo, followed by training at Washington Opera and his debut CD, God Bless America. He appeared with Kunzel in the first Memorial Day concert in Washington, after 9-11, where, Kunzel says, the audience response was "beautiful."

The show will include music by Rosza from epic films, such as Ben-Hur, King of Kings and Quo Vadis.

Pops concerts are at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Sundays) in Music Hall. Subscriptions, $73.75-$428, go on sale Monday. Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 8. Phone 381-3300 or visit Web site.


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