Area residents not vacationing for the Labor Day holiday will want to grab a lawn chair or blanket and head to Wingate University for the Union Symphony Orchestra’s Pops on the Lawn performance. In fact, organizers say the Monday evening show in front of the Stegall Administration Building will be worth coming home early for.
“The USO will be playing fun music – a mix of Americana, western and jazz – most of which the audience will probably recognize,” trombonist Dawn Price says. “It will be a nice time and a pretty space to gather in your chairs or on your blankets and hang out with friends while listening to good music.”
The orchestra performance begins at 7 p.m., and the USO will also offer an overture performance by Union Jazz beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees at the free, 90-minute event will get the “full orchestra experience,” says Kim Norwood, executive director of the Union Symphony Society, but with a laidback, family-friendly atmosphere.
“The event will be very casual, very fluid. Folks can come and go,” she explains. “They can picnic, and we’ll have food trucks. Two Chicks and a Truck, JJ’s Red Hots and Sunset Slush will be on site.”
Price is one of four members of the University faculty who are part of the orchestra. Craig Retzlaff is the principal trumpet player, Chris Griffin plays horn, and David Markgraf serves as the USO’s manager and personnel director as well as principal percussionist. All three are adjunct faculty members.
For Price, who conducts throughout the Southeast and spends her days helping music-education students develop into band directors, the event is a respite of sorts.
“I enjoy getting to be a part of the ensemble as a player, rather than the conductor and person responsible for everything,” she says. “As a musician, my main responsibility is to practice and play my trombone and that is all – a nice break.”
Monday’s performance will be a bit more labor intensive for Dorian Neuendorf, who will wield the wand. Named USO assistant conductor before the start of the 2016-2017 season, Neuendorf also serves as operations manager of the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and artistic director of that organization’s youth orchestra. A composer herself, she has conducted her own works in concert and is passionate about promoting the works of fellow composers.
“She is very high-energy, very talented,” Norwood says.
At Wingate, Neuendorf will direct more than 55 musicians through a variety of pieces, including Richard Rodgers’ “Victory at Sea” and Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Variations on a Shaker Melody.”
“The concert will touch on all the eras of American life,” Norwood says. “It will kick off with the Star-Spangled Banner.”
This is the third year that the Union Symphony has performed a pops concert at Wingate, but the first time it has been scheduled for Labor Day.
“Linking it with the holiday makes it feel a little new,” Norwood says. “We’re trying it out this year and hoping it becomes a local Labor Day tradition.”
The Stegall Administration Building faces McGee Promenade just north of the Dickson-Palmer Center. Parking will be available in the lot behind Stegall, off of East Wilson Street.
Aug. 29, 2017