The Grand Rapids Pops will rock your world in more ways than one at the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops.
Three weeks of classic rock, including a brand-new show, Women Rock, with the music of Tina Turner, Carole King, Aretha Franklin and more, are part of the 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops season at Cannonsburg Ski Area.
The music of ABBA, with songs such as Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia, and the music of Chicago, with songs including 25 or 6 to 4 and You’re the Inspiration, are part of the three-concert season along with iconic music of Janis Joplin, Pat Benatar and others in Women Rock.
The Grand Rapids Symphony’s 23rd annual summer season also goes international with guest performances by Arrival from Sweden, an ABBA tribute band; and with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán from Mexico, a world-famous ensemble that toured and recorded with Linda Ronstadt.
The D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops wouldn’t be the Picnic Pops without pyrotechnics. The perennially popular Classical Fireworks concert returns in August with Grand Rapids Symphony’s new Music Director Marcelo Lehninger making his debut at Cannonsburg.
A three-concert season of classic rock on Thursday and Friday evenings in July plus two special-event, one-night-only shows in August, all come to Cannonsburg Ski Area this summer.
The 2017 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens July 13-14 with The Music of ABBA starring Arrival from Sweden.
“It’ll be a joyously, infectious opening night. Everything about it is fun,” said Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, who will be a big part of the summer season.
ABBA, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with their song “Waterloo” and went on to sell some 400 million records, is one of the greatest pop acts in the history of music. From 1972 to 1982, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad had 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 10 in the Top 20. Their music spawned the 1999 musical, Mamma Mia! followed in 2008 by the movie of the same name starring Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep.
Years ago, the quartet was offered $1 billion to reunite and tour. They turned it down.
That led to the creating of groups such as Arrival from Sweden, which has performed in over 48 countries in the past 12 years, including a February 2012 appearance at Van Singel Fine Arts Center.
Arrival is an “officially sanctioned cover band,” said Bernhardt, who has worked with the group several times in the past.
“They’re the chosen, so to speak,” Bernhardt said. “They even get to wear the costumes.”
In fact, the 10-member act has pegged ABBA so perfectly, a test on Swedish national radio with the group singing Dancing Queen fooled even diehard fans.
“It’ll be a completely family friendly, wonderful night of ABBA,” Bernhardt said. “All of the songs you love and a few that are off the beaten path but are just as wonderful.”
The summer of rock continues July 20-21 with The Musical Legacy of Chicago featuring Brass Transit.
Since its debut in 1967, the band known as Chicago has racked up a string of hits including Saturday in the Park, Feeling Stronger Every Day and Beginnings in a career spanning more than 30 albums over a half century.
Brass Transit, from Toronto, was launched in 2008 specifically to play tribute to the music of Chicago, and several of its members have performed as temporary subs with the group that was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Though Chicago has only one Grammy Award, for If You Leave Me Now, which reached No. 1 on U.S. charts for two weeks in 1976, Billboard has dubbed Chicago the greatest all time American band in singles chart success as well as the greatest in album chart success.
“Chicago’s music was conceived symphonically with the brass backing,” Bernhardt said. “So you can be sure the orchestra will be an equal partner in a Chicago show.”
The three-concert series ends July 27-28 with Women Rock, a brand-new show that pays homage to some of the biggest stars and best-known female singers of the past 50 years with songs including Carole King’s I Feel The Earth Move, Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, Aretha Franklin’s Freeway of Love, Janis Joplin’s Piece Of My Heart, Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and Heart’s These Dreams.
Created by Grammy Award winning pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, Women Rock stars three of Broadway’s brightest stars – Cassidy Catanzaro, Katrina Rose Dideriksen and Shayna Steele – singing songs that changed the course of rock music.
The show debuts in June. Grand Rapids Symphony will be one of the first to present it.
“This is going to be an explosively brilliant show,” Bernhardt said. “The singers are unbelievably great, and it’s just an incredible celebration of the influence of female vocalists and songwriters on the world of rock.”
Two one-night only special events will be held.
Classical Fireworks on Friday, Aug. 3, welcomes Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director Marcelo Lehninger to the podium for his debut at Cannonsburg. Lehninger will lead the orchestra in audience favorites including Copland’s “Hoedown” from Appalachian Spring, the finale from Dvorak’s “From the New World” Symphony No. 9, and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, dubbed the world’s best mariachi band, ends the season on Saturday, Aug. 5.
The Mexican folk music ensemble from the city of Tecalitlán was founded in 1897 in the central Pacific coastal state of Jalisco, the region in Mexico from which mariachi music emerged.
Now based in Mexico City, Mariachi Vargas appeared on Linda Ronstadt’s 1986 album, Canciones De Mi Padre (Songs of My Father), which won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album at the 31st Grammys in 1987.
Bernhardt counts himself as a fan of mariachi.
“The music is very much from the heart, to the heart,” he said. “The singing in particular will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”
“This will be a spectacular end to the summer,” he said. “Just brilliant.”