by Flora Moreno de Thompson
The Green at San Jose State has been pretty quiet since school ended a few weeks ago, but that silence will soon be replaced by the melodious sounds of Symphony Silicon Valley’s 5th Annual Target Summer Pops Festival.
From July 28 to August 5, the Target Summer Pops Festival will put on five professional orchestral concerts for the community to enjoy for free. This year’s festival is sponsored by Target, Applied Materials, KCBS, the City of San Jose, and San Jose State University. Festival organizers are anticipating 20,000 people to attend this year.
I spoke with the President of Symphony Silicon Valley Andrew Bales about Target Summer Pops and his take on the state of arts and culture in San Jose.
This is the fifth year of the Target Summer Pops music festival. How did the concert series start?
We were contacted to see if we would follow in the path of other cities where Target sponsored community family concerts. We began with a single concert called Music in the Meadow, and its success prompted its expansion with Target’s support to a two-week festival. We moved it after one year to San Jose State University as the sound intrusion from the airport was less of a problem there than in our previous location, and yet we were still in the heart of downtown. Both Target and the Symphony wished to make music available for free during this event to touch as much of the community as we could. It has been a tremendous success as all ages and ethnicities attend.
Besides Paquito D’Rivera Quintet and Christine Andreas, are most of the musicians local?
Yes, this is intended to be added local employment for musicians. We do have stars to lead certain styles of programs, but generally these are performed by Symphony Silicon Valley musicians.
What are your thoughts on the current state of arts and culture in San Jose? Is there something more you’d like to see?
San Jose and the South Bay have excellent arts service providers, yet they are operating in the shadow of a world-leading cultural mecca (San Francisco). The majority of local patrons don’t make that 50 mile trip north so they partake of their cultural attractions here. Audiences attend in solid numbers, but the donations pool is very fragile and under-developed. Unfortunately for our local arts groups, much of the most generous giving still goes outside of the South Bay, so we lack the financial underpinning to let these groups truly thrive. In spite of that, the arts community here present a high quality product that engages our audience.
A little known fact is that earned income for most South Bay arts groups are at the leading edge of their colleagues around the country. Local citizens do go and do enjoy it. We just have to encourage them to help nurture their home-grown artists.
What advice would you give for a first-time Summer Pops-goer so they have a good time at the show?
Arrive early enough to find a spot to settle in and bring a picnic. Dress in comfortably casual clothes and bring the entire family and all their neighbors. Make it your own party within the Festival. While the concerts don’t have too much sun due to blockage for the stage, it is sunny before the concert so remember sunblock or hats. But the best advice is to come and experience it for yourself early as I am certain [people] will want to return often.
The music is free, the seats are free, the water is free, and on Sunday’s even ice cream is free. We like to call it a ‘leave your wallet at home event’ as we don’t sell anything and don’t have outside vendors selling anything either. It is free for everyone to enjoy fun music and a great time with all your South Bay neighbors.
Saturday, July 28, 2012: “A Little Classical Night Music” 7 pm
Sunday, July 29, 2012: “Fiddles ‘N Fables” 5:30 pm
Friday, August 3, 2012: “Paquito D’Rivera Quintet — Latin Jazz & Tango” 7 pm
Saturday, August 4, 2012: “The Great American Songbook: Rogers & Hart” 7 pm
Sunday, August 5, 2012: “Strike Up The Band” 5:30 pm
For more information on the Target Summer Pops Festival or the Symphony Silicon Valley, visit www.symphonysiliconvalley.org.