Grand Rapids Symphony celebrates summer with the music of Queen, Beach Boys at 2016 Picnic Pops

GRAND RAPIDS, MI  – We will rock you with the music of Queen and the Beach Boys this summer at the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops. The Grand Rapids Pops opens its 22nd annual summer concert series in mid-July with classical favorites plus fireworks at Cannonsburg Ski Area.   

The outdoor concert series, launched in 1995, welcomes more than 25,000 people to Cannonsburg Ski Area each summer for picnicking in the great outdoors while enjoying pops and popular music on stage played by special guests plus your Grand Rapids Symphony.   

Season tickets offering big discounts as well as single tickets, both with a variety of seating options, are on sale today for the three-concert Picnic Pops Series held on consecutive Thursday and Friday evenings beginning July 14-15. Additional, one-night-only, special-event concerts this summer will be announced soon.   

Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for the season opening Classical Fireworks with popular orchestral favorites from movies, ranging from Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” heard in films such as “Apocalypse Now,” to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, featured prominently in “The King’s Speech,” on July 14-15. Benefactor sponsors include TerryTown RV, Kennari Consulting and Chemical Bank.   

Associate Conductor John Varineau will lead the Grand Rapids Symphony in We Will Rock You! The Music of Queen with special guests Jeans ‘N Classics on July 21-22. Mercy Health – St. Mary’s and Universal Forest Products are benefactor sponsors.   

Varineau also will conduct the orchestra in The Music of the Beach Boys with tribute band Papa Doo Run Run on July 28-29. Benefactor sponsors are Miller Johnson and Mary Free Bed.

Gates at Cannonsburg ski area open at 5:45 p.m. each night for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment, including free, kid-friendly activities such as face painting, crafts, and a musical instrument petting zoo.   

Pack your own picnic baskets and coolers or purchase food from the grill at the Cannonsburg concession stand. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the grounds, and parking is free for concertgoers. VIP Parking upgrades will be available for a small fee beginning in June.     

Ticket Options and Prices   

3-Concert Series and Flexpass Packages - Save up to 28% off single-ticket prices by bundling the Picnic Pops experience together with a 3-Concert Series subscription, or save up to 17% with a 6-ticket Flexpass.   

The 3-Concert Series subscription is good for lawn seating to Classical Fireworks, We will Rock You! The Music of Queen and The Music of the Beach Boys. Subscriptions are $39 for adults, $33 for college students and seniors, and $15 for children ages 2-18. Children younger than age 2 are admitted for free. Series tickets for general admission chair seating are $75. Tickets for an individual reserved table seat are $135 or $1,080 to reserve an entire table for eight.   

The Flexpass 6-Pack offers six lawn tickets that can be used in any combination, on any concert night, for these three shows. Flexpasses are $90 for adults and $78 for seniors.     

Individual Concert Tickets  

 All single tickets are $5 more on the day of the show. Advance lawn tickets to Classical Fireworks, We will Rock You! The Music of Queen and The Music of the Beach Boys are $18 for adults ($23 day of show), $16 for college students and seniors ($21 day of show), or $5 for ages 2-18 ($10 day of show).  MySymphony360 members can attend for $15 ($20 day of show). Children younger than age 2 are admitted for free.   

Other individual tickets are $30 for reserved chairs ($35 the day of the show), $48 for individual table seats ($53 the day of the show), and $384 for a full table of eight ($424 day of show).   

The 3-Concert Series, Flexpass, and individual table and chair tickets can be purchased through the GRS box office by calling 616.454.9451 x4 weekdays or 616.885.1241 evenings or in person at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, or online at

Tickets are also available at the gate at the night of the concert for an additional $5. Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more people by calling 616.454.9451 x192.     

Here’s the 2016 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops lineup

Classical Fireworks – July 14 & 15, 8:00 p.m. 

Bob Bernhardt, conductor 

Benefactor sponsors: TerryTown RV, Kennari Consulting and Chemical Bank   

The annual audience favorite ending with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and a pyrotechnic display also salutes classical blockbusters featured on the silver screen such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, featured in The King’s Speech, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, heard in The Social Network, and Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, featured in a number of films including Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and What’s Opera, Doc?   

“We Will Rock You!” The Music of Queen – July 21-22 7:30 p.m. 

John Varineau, conductor 

Benefactor sponsors: Mercy Health – St. Mary’s and Universal Forest Products   

Some of the biggest hits of Queen, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites the Dust, You’re My Best Friend, and We Are the Champions will be heard when Jeans N Classics joins the Grand Rapids Symphony for the best of the British rock sensation of the 1970s and 80s. Led by guitarist and arranger Peter Brennan, the Canadian rock group has appeared previously with the Grand Rapids Symphony in a tribute to the music of Elton John in 2010 and the previous year in a salute to songs from the James Bond series of films.   

Music of Beach Boys – July 28-29 7:30 p.m. 

John Varineau, conductor 

Benefactor sponsors: Miller Johnson and Mary Free Bed   

The music of Brian Wilson and the rest of the Beach Boys returns to town with Papa Doo Run Run, a surf-rock band launched in the mid-1960s that later toured with Jan & Dean and spent 15 years as the celebrity house band at Disneyland. The group earned a Top 40 hit for their cover of Be True to Your School, plus a Gold Record and Grammy Award nomination for the 1985 recording, California Project, and members of toured and recorded with Brian Wilson and with later incarnations of the Beach Boys.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony 

 Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are given each year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival and provides the orchestra for performance by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit   

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.