Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra performs at Shedd Park in Lowell in 2014. COURTESY PHOTO
Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra performs at Shedd Park in Lowell in 2014. COURTESY PHOTO

The Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra will hold its 2019 Spring Pops Concert on Saturday, May 4, at 2 p.m., at Butler Middle School, 1140 Gorham St., Lowell.

The concert, entitled "Around the World in 80 Minutes," promises to be an enlightening cultural experience featuring songs beloved by people worldwide.

"People think of, say, the Boston Pops and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and think, 'Oh that's too expensive,' or 'I can't afford to dress up for that,'" says Julia Harmon, LPO co-president. "With us, there is no dress code. We are very casual."

Indeed, the LPO is a group that aims to play for everybody. Charles Needles, the LPO's secretary, says all of the orchestra's concerts are family-friendly, and "Around the World" is no exception.

"A number of these are classical pieces," Needles says of the program lineup. "But these are pieces that people will recognize, such as selections from 'The King and I' and music from 'Jurassic Park.' We try to create a blend of things."

One number of the concert that promises to be memorable is "First Movement of Carl Stamitz Viola Concerto," as performed by the 2019 winner of the Jeanne Selander Memorial Concerto Competition, Zoey Long.

Zoey, 14, is a Winchester native and fully committed viola player.


She is also currently in the New England Conservatory of Music's top ensemble, the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

"She will be performing this solo, standing up in front of the orchestra, on her viola," says Needles of Young's upcoming performance. "She's amazing."

Every year, the LPO holds this concerto competition to honors the late violinist Jeanne Selander, who is remembered for her energy and dedication to the LPO when it was formed in the 1980s. Before her death in 1992, Selander had already brought the idea of a competition for youth musicians to life.

"We had auditions for that in February," Harmon says. "We auditioned 24 people, and all of them were amazing. It's so hard to choose, because they are all just so good. They make me want to go home and practice!"

Conducting the Spring Pops Concert is Thomas Kociela, a finalist for music director. Kociela's prior achievements include assistant conductor of California's Temecula Valley Symphony (for which he directed the orchestra, chorus and chamber ensembles in concert), music director of Temecula Valley Youth Symphony, and brass-ensemble director at the University of Chicago.

"In November and December, we had eight people audition to conduct the orchestra," Harmon says of finding Kociela, who is currently studying conducting at the New England Conservatory of music. "We narrowed it down to two people -- Kociela and Marshunda Smith. Smith conducted our March concert. Now Thomas will conduct our May concert."

Tickets for the Spring Pops Concert are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, and $5 for children and students with an ID. Butler Middle School is handicapped-accessible and offers ample parking. Additional information can be found at www.lowellphilharmonic.org.

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