After the triumphant reception of its fall concert “Once Upon A Time,” Michigan Pops Orchestra has aimed to make its spring concert the most exciting and ambitious performance since Pops came to the ‘U’ more than fifteen years ago. The completely student-run orchestra will present “Pops in Peril,” a concert hoping to bring a vibrant and expansive repertoire to stage with skill, energy and a little bit of their signature “Pops Love.”

Pops In Peril

Sunday at 7 p.m.
Michigan Theater
From $5


Pops Love — the orchestra’s tagline — represents the energy and cohesion of the orchestra, explained LSA sophomore Liz Cvercko, co-publicity director of Pops. For those new to Pops, the atmosphere of Pops Love is infectious.

“Energy and fun are always facets of our concert experience,” said LSA junior Jen Wei, Pops co-publicity director. “And from the title, it’s clear that there is something a little sinister, a little dark in the excitement of this show.”

The show kicks off its first half with the fourth movement from Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. Shostakovich, living under the pressures of Stalin’s Russia and the constraints of Social Realism, crafted his 5th Symphony as an outlet for the strife, triumph and confusion of his era. The fourth movement itself is a blend of marching music and Shostakovich’s own more abstract forms, which will lead to a bombastic and explosive finale.

“The movement is exciting, but its also tinged with a sense of irony and forlorn,” Cvercko said. “Shostakovich didn’t have the freedom he wanted, and even in something as triumphant as the end of the symphony, there is a sense of something darker skimming just beneath the surface.”

After this selection, Pops will be playing the world premiere of Hans Zimmer’s score from the 2010 motion picture “Inception.”

“This is a big deal, period,” Wei said. “The theme from the movie has never been performed anywhere. We literally called up Warner Bros., and after some dedicated advocating by members of Pops, we were able to secure the rights to the sheet music.”

Pops has taken the brooding and electronic sounds of “Inception” to a new level by combining the theme with the group’s own accompanying video and effects.

“During the performance, we want to engage the audience more fully and really create the mood of a nightmare,” Cvercko said. “The orchestra has put a lot of work into both the music and an accompanying video — going so far as to storyboard out and script their work.”

After these two pieces, which make up the first half of “Pops in Peril,” the orchestra moves into a more eclectic mood and plays everything from Broadway hits such as “The King and I” and “On the Town” to a modern TV classic — Danny Elfman’s theme from “The Simpsons.”

“These are extremely fun pieces for the orchestra to just let loose and give the audience the authentic stage experience with quick, memorable melodies iconic to many,” Wei said.

But it’s not all TV and musicals — Pops is also tackling the classics of the silver screen in the second half of the show with their envisioning of the suite from “Star Wars.” In its rendition, the group combines the heralding theme of John Williams with cinematography reminiscent of George Lucas’s 1977 film.

“We made a little homage to ‘Star Wars,’ which stars the Pops in their own intergalactic adventure,” Wei said. “Like all our videos, we bring together the Pops community to really have fun with the music and share the Pops Love.”

Besides the nods to classics from pop culture both past and present, Pops is also performing Georges Bizet’s “L’Arlésienna Suite No. 2,” which, in its original form, was written to accompany Alphonse Daudet’s play of the same name. The French composer’s set of pieces, only posthumously arranged into orchestral suites, is a blend of wind and string melodies with flute and harp solos.

“Our Music Directors Matthew Dell and Anthony Kim have chosen an outstanding set for this concert,” Wei said. “It has great music, great skits, great videos and a surprise encore that’s fantastic.”

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