Except for a couple of traditional "Pops Concert" favorites (Eugene Jelesnik's own "JFK March" and the orchestra's usual finale, the toe-tapping "Orange Blossom Special"), this annual spring Pops Concert was comprised of several numbers new to the philharmonic's repertoire.
The concert is always held just prior to the LDS Church's April conference.Also new this time was yet another group of Osmond offspring a string trio made up of Travis, 12; Justin, 11; and Shane, 8; children of Merrill and Mary Osmond, joined by their sister, Heather, 5; and toddler Troy, 3; along with their coach, Conrad Dunn.
The Osmonds were featured about midway through the program, and their selections included, "Jazz Song," with the three oldest boys on cello and violins, assisted by their violin-playing coach; "Heather's Song," with Heather singing while her brothers accompanied on strings; and their finale, "Fiddling Medley," in which little Troy joined the group with his 1/16th size violin.
The first two songs were composed by Merrill, and the last was arranged by Dunn. Audience members wondering about 11-year-old Troy's hearing aid may be interested to learn that Troy has an 80 percent hearing loss. Two of his uncles are also hearing impaired. Troy's mother said the hearing problem may be genetic.
There was one major distraction during the Osmonds' performance. It seems that whenever any of the Osmonds appear in public, especially around here, they attract a multitude of Osmond groupies. You've seen them, I'm sure clutching their cameras and waving their autograph books.
And they were out in force Thursday night, toting a variety of photographic equipment, from ancient Brownie Hawkeyes to state-of-the-art Polaroids all with flash attachments. It was bad enough that all these bulbs were flashing and popping during the performance, but the diehard groupies were also jostling for the very best camera angles as well, crowding themselves into the center aisle and, most likely, stepping on toes and blocking the views of patrons who were sitting in the front row.
Among the concert's musical highlights were:
Don Becker, a baritone who has been featured in Utah Opera productions. He was showcased in two solos: Verdi's "Di Trovenza Il Mar" (from "La Traviata") and in "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'," the Gershwin classic from "Porgy and Bess" proving that when it comes to talent, he certainly has "plenty o' plenty."
Becker and soprano Billie Loukas teamed up for a duet of "Sunrise, Sunset" from "Fiddler on the Roof."
Loukas, who has appeared on many of Jelesnik's Pops Concert programs through the years, also sang the jazzy "Love Is Where You Find It."
Orchestral tunes, in which the philharmonic's particularly strong string section did an outstanding job, included "Dance of the Comedians" from Smetana's "The Bartered Bride;" Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1" (the rollicking title song from the movie, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"); the lilting "Esmeralde" by Drigo; and the fiery Latin tempos of "El Cumbanchero," featuring pianist Bob Davis.
New sound equipment, provided by Performance Audio, was a considerable improvement over previous concerts in the mall, and although it took a few minutes into the concert to accomplish the distracting electronic sign flashing commecial messages above the orchestra was finally shut off, making what was already a pleasant evening much more pleasurable.
Now, if the groupies would leave their cameras home.