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Pops in the park kicks off Sunday

Wanted: Picnic baskets, mildly overcast weather with a gentle breeze, alcohol in moderation and five dozen musicians in white providing buoyant and bravura music.

Unwanted: Stuffy people who insist light classics aren’t classics at all, thunderstorms, pets or noisy concertgoers who holler “Yo, play ‘Fanfare for the Common Man!’ ” after one too many brews.

Those are the guidelines for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Pops season, which starts Sunday at Symphony Park. (That’s the open area along Morrison Boulevard, going toward Barclay Downs and away from SouthPark mall.)

The gates open at 5 p.m., and that’s a fact worth noting. Blankets, tarps and low-backed chairs start to dot the lawn like spring dandelions soon thereafter. (If you’re bringing a high-backed chair, the CSO asks you to sit around the perimeter of the lawn to avoid blocking others’ sight lines.) If you get there by 7, you’ll hear the Prelude Performance that leads up to the main 8:15 concert.

The symphony will play five summer gigs at this locale, weather permitting, on Sundays in June and on July 3. Tickets remain a remarkable bargain – $10 for the first four nights, $15 for the last one (which ends with a fireworks show) – though the basket-passers wouldn’t mind if the Muse or the Merlot inspires you to make an extra donation. Kids under 18 get in free.

Serious composers get a look-in, but only in lighter moods: a galop by Shostakovich, a dazzling overture by Dvorak, Wagner’s brief and hair-raising prelude to the third act of “Lohengrin.” Most of the programs serve up a blend of marches, Broadway hits, dances from opera, film themes and patriotic music.

If you don’t feel like toting chow from home, buy an Al Fresco To Go basket from Whole Foods, which will make its Summer Pops debut with a mobile kitchen at the park. You’ll get full information at Here’s a brief guide to the 2014 summer season:

June 8: “A Night on Broadway,” with Albert-George Schram conducting and vocalist Tamra Hayden. Prelude performance: Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra.

June 15: “Orchestra Americana,” with Schram conducting. Prelude performance: Tenya Colemon Quartet.

June 22: “Instrumental Opera,” with Schram conducting. Prelude performance: Keith Davis Trio.

June 29: “That’s Amore,” with Schram conducting and Frank Portone singing. Prelude performance: Standard Brands.

July 3: “Celebrate America!” with Schram conducting. Prelude performance: Gold Standard Chorus.

The CSO also plays free summer concerts outdoors around the county. Those start at 8:15 but have no preview performances. Roger Kalia will conduct the first three, Schram the last three.

“Music of the Movies” runs June 14 at Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte, June 20 at Energy Explorium in Lake Norman and June 21 at Stumptown Park in Matthews.

“Celebrate America!” runs June 28 at Bailey Road Park in Cornelius, July 1 at Belle Johnston Park in Pineville and July 2 at Village Park in Kannapolis.

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