San Antonio Symphony Pops concert fills Majestic with patriotism

By David Hendricks, Express News

May 23, 2014 - Memorial Day weekend perhaps never had it better in San Antonio, at least musically, than with the San Antonio Symphony Pops program Friday (May 23).

The concert was filled with heart-swelling, patriotic themes, the orchestra accompanied at times by the Mastersingers choir and even the audience of more than 1,600 people during sing-a-longs that included Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." and a medley that featured "This Is My Country," "America," "It's a Grand Old Flag," "Yankee Doodle" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy," among others.

In a return engagement to San Antonio, guest conductor Carl Topilow, founder of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, expertly guided the orchestra, played the clarinet in a swing-era, Glenn Miller medley and even sang from the podium.

The orchestra played with brassy warmth, and the choir glowed, especially when both performed "America the Beautiful" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" before intermission. But nothing can beat the grand feeling when the orchestra, chorus and the audience filled the Majestic Theatre in combination at the concert's end.

Members of the audience who have served in the military stood when the symphony performed the themes of the various branches of service in the "Armed Forces Salute."

The program was always respectful, with the only silliness coming during the wacky fun of P.D.Q. Bach's spoof titled "Minuet Militaire."

Movie music dotted the program, including John Williams' themes from "The Patriot" and the "Hymn to the Fallen" from "Saving Private Ryan," the latter with the Mastersingers. Also featured were Jerry Goldsmith's march from "Patton" and Kenneth Alford's "Colonel Bogey March," with the audience whistling along.

The march from "The Longest Day" by Maurice Jarre and Paul Anka was included because the 70th anniversary of D-Day is June 6.

And who can better perform Dimitri Tiompkin's "The Alamo" overture than the San Antonio Symphony?

The concert was a reunion of sorts because numerous orchestra musicians played under Topilow, a noted music educator, during their college years through the conductor's roles with the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Colorado-based National Repertory Orchestra.

Thanks to donors, about 400 military service members and their families received tickets to the weekend concerts.
The program repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Majestic Theatre downtown.