We play a lot of pops concerts. If classical concerts are the meat, pops are the carbohydrates of our diet. They keep us going financially.
The orchestra usually plays some light classical pieces on the first half, then a famous pop or rock act plays with us on the second. We only hire acts which use us in their accompaniment. In fact, we've played orchestral accompaniments to such bands as Led Zeppelin and Tammy Wynette. Now that's entertainment.
We don't rehearse the first half much. And it often has some challenging works on it. Light doesn't always mean easy. In fact bad arrangements can be extremely difficult and awkward. Those are the weeks I build my "close your eyes and dive in" chops!
When I first got an orchestral job in 1983, it was with a ballet orchestra. Ballet music is often some of the hardest to play. It goes on and on, with thick orchestrations in odd keys and no breaks. After six years of that I had developed some reading chops!
So, during pops weeks, I try new equipment, try new reeds. I show up, sit down, open my folder and dive in!
This week the pops is all about the celebrations of the season. Though it's mostly about Christmas, it includes some music for Hanuka. It's a variety show. Our choral director runs it, and it features our excellent all volunteer chorus. But he also includes our top notch local ballet company, BalletMet. The first half is a bit more classical, with selections from Handel's Messiah, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Respighi's Adoration of the Magi. The second half has a carol sing along for the audience and lots of traditional Christmas music and finally, a visit from Santa. Though I've played it for 17 years here, I still enjoy the spirit of it.