The Pops Orchestra loves playing patriotic concerts and holiday concerts, and they’re always popular with the Pops Orchestra’s audience.
But finding a way to keep them fresh year after year isn’t easy.
“When you do patriotic concerts and holiday concerts,” said Robyn Bell, the conductor of the Pops Orchestra, “you kind of end up playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ and ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ over and over.”
For the orchestra’s Veterans Day concert last year, Bell and company re-created one of the Bob Hope USO shows that entertained troops from World War II through the Vietnam War, with local entertainers impersonating the Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich.
It was a huge hit with audiences.
When you do patriotic concerts and holiday concerts, you kind of end up playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ and ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ over and over.
Bell was looking for something for this year that would be just as much fun for the orchestra’s fans. Inspiration struck at a sporting events.
“They were playing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and everybody was singing along,” Bell said. “I thought, ‘This would be great,’ and then I remembered that Neil Diamond had that song ‘America.’ ”
Diamond himself was a bit out of the Pops Orchestra’s reach, but Bell found a worthy substitute in an entertainer named Bobby Palermo. Palermo lives in Palm Harbor, but he’s known all over the country as a Neil Diamond tribute artist.
Palermo will be joining the Pops Orchestra for its upcoming concert, titled “Neil Diamond’s America.” It’s scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Riverview Performing Arts Center in Sarasota and 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Neel Performing Arts Center in at the State College of Florida in Bradenton.
They were playing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and everybody was singing along. I thought, ‘This would be great,’ and then I remembered that Neil Diamond had that song “America.
Palermo will perform mostly in the first half of the concert, offering faithful renditions some of Diamond’s most popular songs.
The second half of the concert will be devoted to patriotic music. Palermo will come back during the second act — this time as himself, not Diamond — to join the orchestra in Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and a song he wrote himself titled “You Are Heroes Thru and Thru.” The song is a tribute to police, firefighters and military personnel. Palermo has a video to go along with the song, and that will be screened at the concert.
Like last year’s Bob Hope concert, this year’s Pops Orchestra patriotic concert is a collaboration with the Sarasota Military Officers Association.
Details: 3 p.m. Nov. 12, Riverview Performing Arts Center, 1 Ram Way, Sarasota and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Neel Performing Arts Center in at the State College of Florida, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton. $20 general, $15 veterans. 941-926-7677, thepopsorchestra.org.