Miles Campbell: A local American tradition — Music in the Mountain’s Patriotic Pops concert proves to be another great success |

Miles Campbell: A local American tradition — Music in the Mountain’s Patriotic Pops concert proves to be another great success

Miles Campbell
Special to Prospector

The words “small town” usually have many terms, emotions, and connotations attached to them — among them, “tradition,” “community,” and “togetherness” … and all three could very much describe the annual Patriotic Pops concert put on last week at the Nevada County Fairgrounds by Music in the Mountains.

“What could be better than celebrating our nation’s birth than outdoors with a whole bunch of like-minded folks listening to great music?” said Music in the Mountains Board of Directors president Terry Brown.

Indeed, there was quite a turn out — filling up nearly all of the lawn, I was pretty much forced to find seating elsewhere for the majority of the concert. Nonetheless I was still able to hear virtually every horn, woodwind, string and anything else that was played for each and every piece.

Speaking of which, it’s also worth noting how much goes into making one of these events.

“It’s a huge process!” said Pete Nowlen, the artistic director of Music in the Mountains. “The conductor creates the program, the librarian acquires the music months ahead as the personnel manager lines up all the professional orchestra musicians who come in from all over the country, and even internationally. [Meanwhile], the staff and volunteers work all year to make the arrangements to have a stage and sound system, food and drink, parking attendants, ushers, and all the other logistical necessities. The chorus rehearses for several weeks beforehand, and the host and conductor work on the text for several days, and then on the morning of July 3, everything comes together.”

While “everything” may not have included certain things I personally would have been looking for — mainly Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” the one that includes full scale cannons as instruments, there definitely was more than enough to cover most of the bases.

Starting with the Pledge of Allegiance, the orchestra then moved into “The Star Spangled Banner,” followed by the “National Emblem March” and then the “Armed Forces Salutes,” complete with appearances from members of all four of said branches.

From there, the concert went into classics from American composers, starting with “Land of Mine, America” by George Gershwin. As Nowlen mentioned in the program, “the United States did not have a school of romantic composers in the 19th century” before going on to say that “perhaps [the United States] romantic period instead flowered in the 20th century with composers (such) as John Williams and James Horner.”

Although a good chunk of the pieces in the first half were written in the 19th century, after the intermission, there were definitely more 20th century pieces present in the second half, such as John Williams’ “Superman March” and the music from the main title and end credits of the movie “Apollo 13,” written by James Horner.

Though there were a few more pre-1900 pieces present, the second half definitely seemed to compliment the first half, almost giving the entire concert a sort of “evolution of Americana music” feel.

In the end, the annual Patriotic Pops concert definitely proved its worth for hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees that came, even if they didn’t come “from sea to shining sea.”

Miles Campbell is a Nevada County resident and was a student in the Young Composers program run by Music in the Mountains.

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