Some reporters, especially sports reporters, are very good at estimating the size of crowds. I’ve never been very good at it, but I’m eager to hear a head-count from last night’s Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert. I was flabbergasted! The audience didn’t number in the hundreds, but rather it seemed to be somewhere around three thousand! Is that possible? It wasn’t a hockey game, after all.
For years I’ve considered the Greater Grand Forks Symphony something of my play thing.
It started years ago when the late, great Page Towne, who was then the symphony’s executive director, asked me out of the blue to narrate "Carnival of the Animals" and "A Lincoln Portrait" with the orchestra at the Fritz.
Then two years ago, Jenny Tarlin talked me into competing in its Make Me a Maestro contest for the honor of conducting the symphony. I had the pleasure of beating out Ryan Bakken (something I don’t recall him ever acknowledging publicly, now that I think about it). More importantly, at a buck a vote, the contest raised over five thousand dollars for the orchestra.
Then one day last summer, Jenny called again. This time she invited me to emcee the Holiday Pops Concert: A Festive Occasion. It was clear even then the symphony was thinking very big for this one–Alerus Center, mass choir and a big crowd.
I’m pleased to report all of that was accomplised. The people I taked with after the concert seemed to have had a really good time.
My thanks to Jenny, of course, but also to Dr. James Popejoy who is about as easy and fun to work with as is possible, to Alerus Financial and the thirty-some other local individuals, businesses, organizations and corporations who backed the concert financially without any outside funding, and to the Alerus Center’s Steve Hyman for his vision and support of the project.
The whole idea was for the pops concert to establish an annual tradition of kicking off the holiday season in our region. That just might have happened last night.