Many of those who attended Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Printing Partners Pops Series concert “Classic FM: Radio Hits of the Decades” Friday were baby boomers. And like them, this writer, who is a member of that generation, once listened religiously to top-40 radio.
Back then, it would have been nearly impossible to imagine so many of the popular tunes of that era would one day be performed by a symphony orchestra in an elegant music hall like the Hilbert Circle Theatre and that this writer would be reviewing it.
Led by Principal Pops conductor Jack Everly, the ISO was joined by guest artists Jim Hogan, Ron Remke, N’Kenge and Indy natives Josh Turner and Melissa Schott.
The ISO opened with a medley which included such pop hits as “Downtown,” “California Girls,” “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie…,” “Monday, Monday,” and “Let the Sunshine In.”
Turner, who is a 2015 Butler graduate who has gained fame on his YouTube channel with nine million views, was impressive, accompanying himself on guitar as he sang Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”
In the wake of the Paris tragedy, the four vocalist’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was especially moving and a reminder of how ironic it is that the composer himself lost his life as a result of a violent act.
Especially nostalgic was a medley of The Four Seasons songs, impeccably rendered by the three male vocalists. The medley included “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and “December, 1963.”
Act 2 opened with another medley that included Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” the open chord of which was immediately recognizable to the delighted audience. Other songs that accompanied it were “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” and Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” and “I Write the Songs.”
A highlight of the entire concert thanks to the impressive ISO horn section, was a medley of songs consisting of “25 or 6 to 4,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?,” “Saturday in the Park,” and “Get Away,” by the rock band Chicago.
Hogan and Remke demonstrated superior singing chops in their mash up of Sinatra’s “My Way” and Sammy Davis Jr.’s “I Gotta Be Me,” respectively.
Another highlight was the ensemble of vocalists singing a medley of Beatles’ hits that included “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Let It Be,” and “She Loves You.”
During The Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” many in the audience executed the song’s obligatory choreography, at least from the waste up, in their seats. It was the closing song of a concert that was a joyous sentimental journey for the graying audience members. For those considerably younger, it was an excellent primer for the music that is the basis of today’s contemporary pop sound.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2015-2016 season call (317) 639-4300 or visit indianapolissymphony.org.