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Forte: 'Tis the season for Holiday Pops Spectacular

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Lawrence Golan conducts the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for the Holiday Pops Spectacular at The Capitol Theatre on Dec. 8, 2019.

With the first presentations of the season for Yakima’s Town Hall series and the Yakima Symphony Orchestra in October, and last weekend’s kickoff of The Capitol Theatre’s season with “Hairspray,” the fall performance season is finally in full swing. The YSO will be quite busy indeed over the next three weeks, with two programs in the coming three weekends.

This weekend’s program, in the Yakima Valley Classical Series, celebrates the 300th anniversary of an iconic collection of works that some consider to be the pinnacle of orchestral music from the Baroque era: J.S. Bach’s six “Brandenburg” concertos. These works are not concerti in the sense we typically think of today, where a single solo instrument is matched up with a large orchestra, but rather a constantly evolving dialogue among a fascinating variety of solo instruments, groups of instruments and a continuo (a sort of “rhythm section” consisting of harpsichord and a bass instrument).

Many of these instrumental combinations are unique within the Baroque repertoire. Several concerti will be instantly familiar from use in film and television, and much like the YSO’s summer programming they offer a great showcase for the talent and musical personalities of numerous individual musicians from within the orchestra.

On the weekend of Dec. 4-5, the symphony’s Gilbert Orchards Pops Series kicks off with the Holiday Pops Spectacular. This annual family tradition features the full symphony orchestra and the Yakima Symphony Chorus, both for the first time in almost two years, in a program of holiday classics along with newer arrangements that offer a different twist to seasonal favorites. As usual, there are two performances: at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 4 p.m. Dec. 5, ending just in time for downtown Yakima’s annual Holiday Lighted Parade.

As was the case last month, there are several adjustments to the YSO’s customary schedule in light of the ongoing pandemic. This Saturday, doors will open at 6 p.m. for the 7:30 concert, as well as for the 6:30 pre-concert ConcerTalk with Jeff Snedeker; there is no pre-concert talk for the December program. Once again there will not be an open dress rehearsal Saturday morning, and receptions and other gatherings have been suspended along with wine and beer sales at The Capitol Theatre at least through the end of 2021.

For those who have not yet attended an event at the Capitol, especially those coming with children or others who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, please note the theater’s admission requirements for proof of either full vaccination or a negative PCR COVID test within 72 hours (rapid tests are not sufficient) for everyone entering the theater. In all cases, patrons must show photo identification matching the name on the card or test result.

Even if you have come to the theater previously this fall, please bring your vaccination or test information each time, as the theater is not able to maintain these records from one event to the next. Full details of these requirements can be found at

While these safety measures require extra effort from all of us, orchestra and audience alike, they will not last forever; and they do make it possible to enjoy the incomparable experience of live orchestral and choral once again. These are two special programs you won’t want to miss!

• David Rogers is executive director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Learn more at

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