Behind the scenes of the Philly Pops’ first virtual July 4th concert

Posted on: July 6, 2020

“This year’s Independence Day concert by the Philly Pops will be unlike any other it has done over the past four decades,” wrote Peter Dobrin in Friday’s (7/3) Philadelphia Inquirer. “The orchestra won’t be sitting in front of Independence Hall before a vast lawn of listeners. Instead, the Pops has pre-recorded its ‘Wawa Welcome America’ concert, with some players in face masks sporting stars and stripes. The show will be streamed Friday evening on the Pops and Welcome America websites…. Music director David Charles Abell … approached making music under COVID-19 conditions as something of an experiment…. Monday’s rehearsal and recording sessions required precautions. Flutes were jettisoned—’because flutes are dangerous. They spew aerosols too far,’ said Abell. The flute parts in Copland’s Simple Gifts were adapted and turned over to the clarinets. Trombones and other winds [played] in acrylic booths [with] ear buds carrying the orchestra sound … to guide them. Audio was captured with microphones one to a player, and then mixed and balanced by sound engineers…. ‘It worked much better than I thought it would,’ said Abell…. The group hopes to do some combination of performing for a live and at-home audience in coming months.”