VSO announces Pops season return

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra announced its 2018-19 Pops season, which launches in September and features tributes to Simon and Garfunkel, George Michael and hits of Broadway.

“It’s just a great opportunity to relive your favorites. They’re icons,” said Monica Meyer, the VSO’s marketing director. “When we were programming the season, we really wanted to bring the audience something for everyone.”

The lineup stems from a desire to offer diverse programming coupled with feedback from patrons surveyed last season.

The season’s first concert pays homage to Michael, who rose to fame as half of the Wham! duo that made waves in the 1980s. Accompanied by a singer and a full rock band, the orchestra will bring to life hits such as “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “I’m Your Man” and “Careless Whisper.”

“We want people to feel like they’re actually at a George Michael show,” Meyer said. “We’re not hiring a George Michael impersonator; we’re hiring somebody that can do him justice.”

In November, Philly Pops conductor Michael Krajewski will return to perform with the VSO for “The Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel,” alongside vocalists A.J. Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle. The folk tribute features songs such as “The Sound of Silence,” “Mrs. Robinson” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.”

The VSO Holiday Pops concert returns in December for another round of contemporary Christmas classics and traditional carols. Moving into 2019, the January performance celebrates Broadway hits from the likes of “Cabaret,” “Rent,” “The Music Man” and more, sung by current Broadway performers.

The season concludes in March 2019 with a concert celebrating the legacy of jazz composer and pianist George Gershwin, whose hits include “Rhapsody in Blue” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” Pianist Kevin Cole will join the symphony in that effort.

“I’m serious when I say if you ever wanted to see George Gershwin himself play, this is your chance,” Meyer said. “It’s something that’s really unique and special to our series this year.”

The VSO is in the process of hiring a new assistant conductor, who Meyer said will likely conduct one or more of the upcoming Pops season’s concerts. She added that the season holds some surprises yet to be announced.

“We have some special things up our sleeves,” she said. “There’s a lot of good things coming.”

Want to go?

The VSO’s 2018-19 Pops season spans the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News and Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall. Season tickets start at $88 and are available at virginiasymphony.org or by calling 892-6366. Tickets for individual concerts go on sale in July.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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