PANAMA CITY — The Saturday performance of the Panama City Pops Orchestra takes on a particularly Irish lilt with "Celtic Celebrations" as the St. Patrick's Day theme.
The concert, sponsored by the St. Joe Community Foundation, begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Marina Civic Center, 8 Harrison Ave., Panama City.
The Panama City Pops concerts are traditionally a combination of familiar, classical works and popular arrangements. Highlights of the classical program on Saturday will include Leroy Anderson’s endearing “Irish Suite” and Ralph Vaughn Williams' spellbinding "The Lark Ascending."
To honor St. Patrick’s Day, the Pops will also host some special guests and solo performances. Enen Yu will be the featured violin soloist, and Celtic band "Mithril" will add its distinctive sound to the evening’s theme.
"This will be an evening of beautiful and joyful music transporting you to the Emerald Isle," said Tammala Spencer, president of the organization’s Board of Directors. "Our patrons will be treated to elegant classical music as well as traditional Irish jigs, reels and airs to capture the Irish spirit."
Enen Yu, concert master for the Northwest Florida Ballet, is also concert master for the Pensacola Opera and Mobile Opera, and the co-concert master of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. A native of China, Yu began to play the violin at age 7. In 1998, she graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and became the youngest member of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra at the time. That same year, she accepted the invitation to study at the University of South Carolina, where she earned her master’s. She has performed with orchestras nationwide.
The unique style of Mithril has its roots in traditional Celtic music. Hailing from Mobile, Ala., the four musicians perform on a wide array of instruments, including Irish flute, whistle, fife, Celtic harp (Andra Bohnet), fiddle, nyckelharpa (Tom Morley), guitar (Ben Harper) and percussion (Sam Gaston). The members play with the precision of their classical training and the enthusiasm and high energy that springs from their love of the music.
"It’s so exciting to have a full orchestra as a back-up band," joked Andra Bohnet, Mithril spokeswoman, about their Panama City debut. "This music is nostalgic and visceral. It touches people in an immediate and lasting way. And, we think this will be as fun for the orchestra as it is for the audience."
As an aside, "Mithril" takes its name from a fictional metal resembling silver but stronger and lighter than steel, as described in author J.R.R. Tolkein's trilogy of fantasy novels, The Lord of the Rings.
The season’s final Pops concert is scheduled for May 5. All concerts are performed at the Marina Civic Center and start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Marina Civic Center box office, 850-763-4696, or at MarinaCivicCenter.com. Single ticket prices are $29.50 for adults; $20 for seniors 65 and older and active military; and $10 for children. For more information, visit PanamaCityPops.org or call 850-785-POPS (7677).