Salt Lake Pops: making orchestras cool again

Published: Saturday, Sept. 21 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

Members of the orchestra come from Salt Lake and Utah County and range in age from 50 down to as young as high school age, with most falling in their mid-20s and 30s.

“Overall, it is a pretty young group,” Marriott said. “But young does not by any means mean inexperienced. … These people are all really dedicated.”

“I feel like Utah in the future will become a film hub, and the orchestra is a way to organize and have local talent,” Drew said. “We have the largest per capita purchasing of instruments in the nation. ... I feel like every other house here has a piano. There are so many musicians and instruments here, so there’s a lot of talent I want to show off.”

Before its Halloween concert, which will be held Oct. 25 and 26, the orchestra will be holding a contest for musicians (ages 4-25 and must be enrolled in school) to audition and possibly be a featured performer on stage with them. Sheet music is available online for free download. Pick a song to learn, record yourself playing it, upload the video to YouTube and send the video URL to saltlakepops@gmail.com.

While the millions of views and growing popularity are nice incentives for the group, Drew says the most rewarding part of this project is that the way young people view orchestras is slowly but surely changing for the better.

“I got a message once from a mother of a 5-year-old who came to one of our concerts, and she basically thanked us because her son really liked classical music, but would sometimes get bullied about it. She said he was having fun dancing the whole time, and the next morning he couldn’t stop talking about it,” Drew said. “Sure, there are some bigger more grandiose things we have done, but to me that’s the most meaningful.”

“We’re able to do more with some of these songs than the pop group can,” Marriott said. “We’re getting comments on YouTube about how people didn’t really like the original song, but after hearing our version they could appreciate the value and quality of the music.

“It’s just all around really enjoyable.”

For more information on Salt Lake Pops Studio Orchestra, the contest, music, concerts or videos, visit slpops.com.

Kate Sullivan was an intern at the Deseret News with Features and Mormon Times. She is a student at Brigham Young University. Email: ksullivan@deseretnews.com

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