The Sun Valley Summer Symphony 2008 Pops Conductor Erich Kunzel will return to Sun Valley to conduct the 6th annual Pops Night tonight, Aug. 15 on the heels of performing for the opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Kunzel will conduct several selections of past Olympic music on Friday, Aug. 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the Sun Valley Pavilion.
Kunzel has conducted the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra for over 30 years. He received the 2006 National Medal of Arts, presented by President and Mrs. Bush in a ceremony at the White House. The National Medal of Arts is the highest honor given to artists by the U.S. Government.
Kunzel will conduct the world premiere of Steve Reineke's "Sun Valley Festival Fanfare," and will end the evening with "Medley for Peace in the World," arranged by Julie Spangler and Steven Reineke, which was performed in Beijing as part of the Summer Olympic Festivities. The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was invited for two performances in Beijing but rainy conditions allowed only one.
"Last Saturday we performed at the National Center for the Arts, called The Egg," Kunzel said. "We played for 1,900 people. Some were various government officials. I met the president of the Olympic Committee and the foreign minister of China. We had a 70-member children's choir, ages 8-15, perform with the orchestra for the big finale, 'Let There Be Peace on Earth.' They did not speak English, but their pronunciation was perfect. For an encore they sang 'It's a Small World' and flags from 30 different nations were presented."
Kunzel said much of the program that will be performed in Sun Valley is what the orchestra did in Beijing. It includes soloists Steven Morgan and Michael Scott Lowe.
"It was beautiful to perform in Beijing," Kunzel said. "When we did the peace medley and 'Let There Be Peace on Earth,' there was not a dry eye in the house."
It was the first time a Pops orchestra had visited Beijing, and Kunzel said the audience had never experienced anything like it before.
"The audience was overwhelmed with smiles from the beginning of the performance to the finale," Kunzel said. "The result is we had three standing ovations with a lot of hooting and hollering."