Pops rocks the park

Genoa -- William Robison placed a blanket in Mormon Station State Historic Park at 6 a.m. Friday morning to reserve a spot for his family at the 20th annual Pops in the Park concert.

Although the concert by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra has maintained a family-event feel, its popularity has increased. Spectators crowded Mormon Station and overflowed onto the surrounding lawns a few blocks away.

"We have been coming for 13 years now," said Robison's daughter Julie. "But this concert has a real hometown feel. It shows how close the community is. It binds us together."

Families picnicked in the shade and played cards while listening to patriotic tunes.

Liz Mitchell of Carson City brought four of her grandchildren. She said it was important for them to see an orchestra of that caliber play in such a casual environment.

"This is an easygoing way to celebrate the Fourth," Mitchell said. "It's pleasant to simply see fireworks, have a small gathering, and celebrate."

The orchestra began with "The Star Spangled Banner," followed by the animated "American Salute," a medley based on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Others tunes included a brassy and nostalgic "Duke Ellington Medley" along with "Oklahoma" and "God Bless America."

Also featured was soprano soloist Jennifer Zabelsky and the Carson Chamber singers.

Zabelsky is a 1999 graduate of Douglas High School and just completed a vocal performance degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. She sang a dramatic rendition of "Glitter and Be Gay" with high, shrill then deep, sullen notes. She received a standing ovation and was presented with a bouquet.

"The music is fabulous, and the young lady who sings in amazing," said Terry Faff, a seven-year Carson Valley resident. "This is wonderful, and the weather is incredible. Never mind enjoying a nice glass of wine while you are it."

Tom Strekal, a resident performer of Carson's Brewery Arts Center and master of ceremonies for the concert, said he loves to see the excitement of the crowd.

"This is a rare event where people gather and have the opportunity to hear national music, music that everyone can truly identify with," he said.

The Sierra Philharmonic League spent nearly $25,000 for the orchestra to perform, said league member Emmett McCardle. To recover the cost, the league held a silent auction and asked for donations during the performance.

"We work from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. cleaning this place up," McCardle said. "But listening to the orchestra is what makes it rewarding. It's fantastic. Everyone enjoys it."


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