The annual Days of '47 extravaganza for many the highlight of the summer in Salt Lake City - was kicked off Wednesday night with music ringing through the city.
Thousands gathered for the annual Pops Concert in the Salt Palace. Among them were members of the Soviet inspection team, there to hear Western melodies.When conductor Gene Jelesnik, attired in his glittering green tuxedo, stood up and swung his arm, it was time to revel in catchy tunes, lively arrangements, the pleasures of old musical friends and the piquancy of something different.
Thousands come, seemingly more every year, to hear the music and enjoy Jelesnik's way with it. As the printed program noted, his has been a life of show business since 1925, 24 hours a day, as violinist, musical director, talent show host and USO trooper.
On Wednesday the Utah musician fired up his group of professional players into a peppy brand of musicmakers.
Their program ran the gamut Wednesday - from musical comedy to opera, classic to Western, a little hillbilly mixed with Latin rhythms.
Among highlights orchestrally was "Petite Tonkinoise" (we used to say "Oh it's jolly to be married"), and "Cuanto le gusta" - shades of Xavier Cugat, with Jelesnik wielding the maracas. Also in the Spanish mood was the dashing "El Relicario" by Padilla, and the "Carmen" Suite, a few good tunes from among the many in the Bizet opera. Later, violins sawed sassily into the swingy "Orange Blossom Special."
Actor Robert Peterson, Utah's "Don Quixote," in his big, free baritone, powerfully sang "The Impossible Dream." Soprano Billy Loukas' pretty sound and ease at heights was well employed in "Il Bacio" by Arditi, and Lehar's "Vilia" from "The Merry Widow."
Selections from "Can Can" by Cole Porter, with such hit songs as "I Love Paris," and a medley from "The King and I" were also crowd pleasers.
And Taff Arnold proved that vaudeville is not dead. Master of the "why did the chicken cross the road?" type of knee-slapper, "the witty Welshman" spieled off some very funny routines, and entertained with some high speed banjo picking on songs like "Waiting for the Sunrise" and "Bye By Blues."
Orchestra and singers ended with a set of Western melodies - songs like "Don't Fence Me In," "Buttons and Bows," "Pony Boy" and "The Last Roundup" - songs the Russians came to hear.
Days of '47 festivities will continue Friday with the Tri-Valley Square Dancers street dance at 8 p.m. on Main Street, between South Temple and First South.
The largest youth parade in the country will be held July 16, beginning at 9 a.m., and the largest all-horse parade will open the Days of '47 Rodeo in downtown Salt Lake July 18 at 6 p.m.
The Days of '47 Pioneer Parade, one of the largest parades in the United States, with its colorful floats, bands, horses and clowns, will glide down Main Street July 25 at 9 a.m.
Earlier that morning, the annual Deseret News-KSL Radio Marathon will begin at 5:15 in Washington Park. A sunrise service, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, will begin at 7 a.m. in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.