From Music Director Daniel Meyer
A pops violinist?!? It’s such an interesting proposition, because let’s face it, when you think of Symphony Pops, the first thing that comes to mind may be a crooner singing Sinatra, or Broadway stars singing hits from the New York stage. You might even think of one of our very popular movie nights, or a rock tribute act much like the one our friends from Jeans n’ Classics bring to Erie. But a pops violinist? That’s something new…
But it actually makes a lot of sense, when you get to know Jenny Oaks Baker. She is a former violinist in the National Symphony from Washington, DC. Her brilliant technique on the violin makes her more than qualified to play with the finest ensembles in the world, but she remembers distinctly playing in pops concerts conducted by the late Marvin Hamlisch. She kept thinking to herself that she could certainly perform and develop programs that would feature the solo violin. Why not? The violin is one of the most expressive and beloved of all the orchestral instruments, and there are plenty of instances where popular hits have been transcribed for stringed instruments. They are so close in expression to the human voice, so the violin in particular lends itself to simulating the human voice. Yet with the other virtuosic capabilities of the violin, there are so many more possibilities to bring these favorite hits to life in a special way.
So that is precisely what Jenny Oaks Baker did. She developed a series of arrangements for solo violin and orchestra that fit beautifully into the pops context. And when she came to Erie a couple years ago to perform on our Home for the Holidays concert, she made an enormous splash. So many audience members came to me afterwards and asked if she could return as soon as possible. I was happy to discover that she had arranged and created an entire album of Disney favorites, and I quickly surmised that with this classic music, Jenny could make a triumphant return to our Pops series and style an entire evening around her violin.
So help me welcome this wonderful and very creative artist back to the Warner. This concert is designed with families in mind, so if there is someone in your family you would like to introduce to the Philharmonic, this might just be the right first entry into a wonderful world of the Pops Violin!