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Pack your picnic basket – Summer Pops is back

Charlotte Symphony Summer Pops starts Sunday

Workers transforming Symphony Park at SouthPark for opening night.
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Workers transforming Symphony Park at SouthPark for opening night.

Do you enjoy listening to Tchaikovsky under the stars? Or would you rather do the “Macarena”?

Either way, the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series has what you want. Beginning Saturday in Matthews and Sunday in SouthPark, the orchestra will crisscross the Charlotte region playing classics, movie music, Broadway favorites and more through July 3.

The alfresco concerts in Symphony Park have long attracted a devoted following to SouthPark, where setting up cozy picnic spreads – with or without candelabra – is an annual rite. The concerts in other parks from Kannapolis to uptown to Pineville offer the added attraction of free admission.

So stock up on picnic food and your drinks of choice. Here’s a rundown of the music in store for SouthPark. For a schedule of the other parks’ concerts, most of which borrow music from these concerts, see the adjacent box.

Sunday: “Opening Night.” Light classics and pop favorites including Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance No. 1,” Franz von Suppe’s “Light Cavalry,” Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” and medleys of Beatles and Walt Disney songs.

June 14: “Tchaikovsky Spectacular.” Tribute to the Russian composer including three showpieces – “Romeo and Juliet,” “Capriccio Italien” and “Marche Slav” – and the first movement of his Violin Concerto, featuring Charlotte Symphony concertmaster Calin Lupanu.

June 21: “A Night at the Movies.” Selections from soundtracks including those of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Godfather,” “Grease,” “Frozen” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”

June 28: “Hot Spanish Nights.” Latin-style favorites such as Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malaguena,” Emanuel Chabrier’s “Espana,” excerpts from “Man of La Mancha” and the 1990s dance hit “Macarena.”

July 3: “Celebrate America!” Patriotic classics by John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin, Stephen Foster and others. Fireworks will cap off the show.

This story was produced as part of the Charlotte Area Journalism Alliance.

At SouthPark

Symphony Park is behind the mall at Morrison Boulevard and Barclay Downs Drive. A Prelude performance begins at 7 p.m., and the Charlotte Symphony plays at 8:15. General admission tickets are $12 for the June concerts, $16 for “Celebrate America!” Passes for all five concerts are $48. Children under 18 get in free. Details: 704-972-2000; charlottesymphony.org.

A few ground rules:

Gates open at 5 p.m. Only then can early birds claim space on the lawn.

Food and beverages are welcome, and alcohol is allowed. Food trucks will be there it you get hungry on the spot.

Smoking is not permitted.

Pets have to stay home.

Blankets and low beach chairs are permitted, because sitting on them won’t block other concertgoers’ view. People who want to sit on higher chairs have to stay at the park’s sides or rear.

Across the region

Concerts begin at 8:15 p.m., and admission is free.

Saturday: Stumptown Park, 120 S. Trade St., Matthews. “Summer Pops: Opening Night” program, same as Sunday at SouthPark.

June 12: Romare Bearden Park, 300 N. Church St., uptown Charlotte. “Screen Themes: Music from Movies, TV and More,” led by Roger Kalia, the Charlotte Symphony’s assistant conductor.

June 19: EnergyExplorium, 13339 Hagers Ferry Road, Huntersville. Same as June 12.

June 27: Bailey Road Park, 11536 Bailey Road, Cornelius. “Celebrate America,” same as July 3 at SouthPark.

July 1: Belle Johnston Park, 1000 Johnston Drive, Pineville: Same as June 27.

July 2: Village Park, 700 West C St., Kannapolis: Same as June 27.

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