This concert was not your typical concert. With hilariously-poorly-designed videos, a planet diss showdown, a lightsaber fight, and a game show, Michigan Pops definitely brought the pops to Michigan.
Before the main event, the early-arriving audience was entertained by Dicks and Janes, an a cappella group on campus.
Their singing was lovely, and I enjoyed listening to them as I relaxed and took in the beautiful venue, waiting for the Michigan Pops Orchestra to take the stage. I will definitely be on the lookout for acapella concerts after this!
After over 100 students and Music Director Rotem Weinberg filled the stage, there was lift off.
Opening with Also Sprach Zarathustra: Sonnenaufgang (which you may not recognize the name of, but you will definitely recognize the tune when you hear it) was iconic and set the stage perfectly for the rest of the concert. Some songs were very familiar, while some I never heard before. The program consisted of classical music, movie soundtracks, and video game theme songs, all centered around the theme of “space”. It featured soloists Benjamin Walker and Megumi Nakamura from SMTD, and their voices complemented the orchestra perfectly. “Sun and Moon” was captivating, and the bit from Pinocchio was such a childhood throwback — I wasn’t prepared for all the feels that night. But, the orchestra and voices were so powerful and beautiful that all I felt was the feels throughout the entire evening.
Music was not all there was in store, however. Before Jupiter, there was a battle for the title of best planet, ending with Assistant Music Director Tal Benatar claiming that “every planet is special in their own way.” Awwww.
Videos for Star Wars, E.T., and Mario were created and played.
Sometimes, I felt the videos were too entertaining that it was a bit too distracting from the music. I was too busy laughing at the pasted E.T. face that I forgot the orchestra was playing. However, during the Super Mario Galaxy 2 song, the music brought the video to life. So, I think the presence of the videos depended on the listener and whether that took away from the orchestra or added to it. It was enjoyable nonetheless. Additionally, there was a lightsaber duel that took place between two Pops alumni in a video that found its way into a live-action finale.
In the second half, there was a game show with audience participation called Planet or No Planet.
It was so ridiculous, it was amazing.
Ending with Reflections of Earth, which is from the IllumiNations show at Epcot, the night’s music really caused me to reflect on everything, known and unknown. At certain times, the orchestra was so intense and grand that I couldn’t handle it, and it caused me to realize once again how small and finite we are in the end. The power of their music was literally transcendent.
Finally, Michigan Pops brought it back home with a rendition of Hail to the Victors as an encore, ending with the Michigan pride that makes the stars shine maize and blue.
The time and energy the Pops orchestra put into preparing for this concert, in terms of music and all the entertainment, was as clear as the moon, and it paid off for an amusing night filled with laughter and emotions. As we journeyed through space on this night of wonder, I realized I’m really happy to live on this earth where I had the opportunity to experience all the talent produced by the lovely humans that graced the stage of the Michigan Theater that night. With their music, they filled our minds with universes beyond life. What I listened to was more transformative than a solar eclipse, more brilliant than a shooting star, more powerful than a black hole, more grounding than gravity; I listened to the Michigan Pops Orchestra. And it was certainly out of this world.