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Yankee Doodle Pops Is Back For 2021 With A Virtual Concert

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Des Moines Symphony
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Instead of hosting a large, in-person concert this year, the Des Moines Symphony is presenting a pre-recorded pops concert on Iowa Public Radio and on Iowa PBS.

2021 marks the Des Moines Symphony’s 27th Annual Yankee Doodle Pops 4th of July celebration. The free event hosting over 100,000 audience members from across the state and the Midwest has firmly established a celebratory patriotic tradition in Iowa.

Yankee Doodle Pops, the largest single-day concert event in Iowa, will be presented virtually this year. It will be recorded at HyVee’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines without an in-person audience and will be broadcast on IPR Classical and on IowaPBS.

This year also denotes the beginning of Maestro Giunta’s thirty-third year as the music director and conductor at the helm of the Des Moines Symphony. Maestro Giunta brought the Yankee Doodle Pops concert idea to Iowa and worked hard to make it a 27-year reality with the Des Moines Symphony.

The howitzers are back

In summers past, the DMSO has set up shop on the East 7th Street side of the West Terrace on the Iowa State Capitol grounds. The Iowa National Guard and their howitzers were usually camped on Walnut Street. Iowa Public Radio’s mobile studio was situated in the middle of the West Terrace. Following much debate about what to do in a pandemic year, the DMSO decided to keep the music and the howitzers, but try something different. The DMSO’s Executive Director, Richard Early, came up with an alternative virtual solution to this year’s Yankee Doodle Pops Concert.

“After much deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot responsibly invite 100,000 Iowans to gather shoulder to shoulder on the Capitol grounds this July. We are grateful to Iowa PBS and to Iowa Public Radio for working with us to reimagine this concert in a way that allows us to reach more Iowans than ever before, despite the COVID-19 pandemic," Early noted.

Except for last season, Iowa Public Radio Classical is proud to say that for the past 17 years, IPR has been bringing the live DMSO’s Yankee Doodle Pops concerts to Iowans on IPR’s classical stream and frequencies. 2021 presents the eighteenth year of IPR Classical presenting the DMSO’s Yankee Doodle Pops concerts to the world, online and on the air.

Broadway star returns

The Des Moines Symphony has a wonderful lineup planned for this year’s Yankee Doodle Pops Celebration. One of the DMSO’s favorite Yankee Doodle Pops stars who is making his third appearance for this year’s concert is Broadway star, Hugh Panaro. A native of Philadelphia, Panaro began performing at thirteen. Harold Prince cast him in the roles of both Raoul and the Phantom in Broadway productions of the “The Phantom of the Opera.” Panaro has also received rave reviews for his performances of Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” as George in “Sunday in the Park with George,” Fagan in “Oliver,” and the lead in “Sweeney Todd.”

With the DMSO, Panaro will sing a brilliant George Cohan Medley, Marvin Hamlisch’s profound song, “Ordinary Miracles,” Meredith Willson’s pithy ‘Trouble’ from the “Music Man,” Schönberg and Kretzmer’s touching prayer-wish ‘Bring Him Home’ from “Les Misérables,” Meeropol and Robinson’s ‘The House I Live In’ from the musical revue, “Let Freedom Sing,” and Samuel Ward’s moving, “America the Beautiful.”

Lake Mills native, Emma Martinson, competed and won the DMSO’s 2021 “Oh Say Can You Sing?" Competition. Martinson will be a sophomore this fall at the University of Northern Iowa, majoring in business and marketing. She is also very involved in UNI’s music programs. Martinson will have the thrilling and distinct honor of opening this year’s Yankee Doodle Pops Concert, singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” with the orchestra.

Other DMSO Yankee Doodle Pops orchestral highlights will include four selections from IPR’s former music producer and announcer extraordinaire, as well as composer and professor of music, Peter Hamlin. His work, a DMSO commission, was entitled “Symphony on a Stick,” and was written to honor the Iowa State Fair. Listeners will be treated to Hamlin’s ‘Sunrise,’ ‘Nothing Grooves Like a Deere,’ ‘The Midway,’ and ‘Sunset and Fireworks.’ Copland’s WWI masterpiece, “Fanfare for the Common Man,” the crowd-pleasing military tribute work called “Armed Forces Salute,” one of Sousa’s most patriotic marches, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and Tchaikovsky’s intense carillons, fanfares, and exhilarating barrage of mortar shells, also well-known as the “1812 Overture,” will round out the program.

How to listen

Iowa Public Radio Classical will be broadcasting their 18th annual production of the Des Moines Symphony’s 2021 Yankee Doodle Pops concert under Maestro Giunta on iowapublicradio.org July 4 at noon and July 5 at 11 a.m. and on all IPR Classical frequencies. The recording of this year’s show is being produced by IPR’s John Pemble, Phil Maass, and Jacqueline Halbloom.