Printer-friendly version
The Weekend Vote weekend vote: What kind of orchestral concert do you prefer, pops or classical?

October 4, 2008 at 2:42 AM

This summer I played more pops concerts than I have in a long time, and it got me thinking: which is better, a pops or a classical concert?

I'll tell you what I liked about the pops concert: I liked the fact that my children could sit through it easily, that my students wanted to go, and that my non-musical friends attended these concerts with enthusiasm. I enjoyed the performance aspect of it: that our show entertained people.

But truth be told, I'd rather play a classical concert, and I'd rather watch one, too. The reward is harder won, but I feel it is greater. I love a conductor delving deep into the details, I love a piece of music that delves deep into the psyche, I love counting like heck and playing a challenging part. I just plain love the music. Bernstein Serenade? I'm there. Mahler Six? Bring it on! Even in the audience, I'll sit at the edge of my chair the entire time.

Of course, I enjoy having a balance of both in life.

BUT, let's say that right at this moment, you had to choose between two gigs, or you had to choose between receiving tickets to two concerts. Which would you pick? And why?

From Hannah Wright
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 4:32 AM
classical, because, like you said, the reward is harder won...classical music, i think, is more like a journey than pops. if you're not involved, it's a lot harder to appreciate than pops, but the effort makes it a million times more amazing.
From Tommy Atkinson
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 2:42 PM
As long as the orchestra is a good one: a really hardcore classical concert.

If the orchestra is just ok: probably a pops concert.

From Mazz Swift-Camlet
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 7:03 PM
Classical: it's what turned me on to the violin in the first place.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 9:31 PM
It would really depend on the pieces. I'm more familiar with the classical repertoire and as a result, I think with a random classical concert there's a higher probability that they will be playing something that I know and/or like. With a random POPS concert, there's a certain familiarity assumed that I (generally a nerd not all that well-versed in pop culture) don't have.

But there are certain pieces that are called POPS that I love every bit as much as classical. Many years ago I went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl where they played some John Williams film scores, and I loved that. I also think I will now seek out Henry Mancini, after playing some of his work that I really liked at a POPS concert myself last spring. So, if it's an unknown, I'd pick classical, because I'd be sure I'd get something I liked. But there are specific POPS pieces I wouldn't want to miss.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 4, 2008 at 10:14 PM
I am maybe bizarre but my favorite ones are when a soloist or a group of soloists plays with an orchestra. You probably think I only like violinists but no! Any type, pianists, cellists, clarinet etc I find they bring life to the music because it makes like a dialog. But, I like when the orchestra really have its fair part and play like a partner not only an accompagnateur!


From Dottie Case
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 3:47 AM
Just got home from playing an all-Gershwin concert. Rhapsody in Blue, American in Paris, Porgy and Bess Symphonic Suite and Variations on I've Got Rhythm (Piano soloist). a player, I'd definately call this music 'classical' (not era) but to a listener I suspect it reads more like pops.
From Kim Vawter
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 4:23 AM
Classical is what i am studying now. Popular music is great but I am interested in the beauty, the construction and the nuances of classical.
From Peter Kent
Posted on October 5, 2008 at 5:25 PM
If you wish to continue gigging, take whoever called first ! That's the ethical and correct procedure for a professional player...personnel guys exchange tidbits that could knock you off both lists.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 3:13 AM
It's a mistake to believe classical "delves deeper into the psyche" than pops. It's a style and the way it's perceived and carried out. You would have to delve deeper to write a good orchestration for "Rainy Night in Georgia" than to write a passable Haydn-sized symphony. Go a step futher to have to write and perform something that could go on Sgt. Pepper's album and that's profound, and there's no training for someone who would like to do it. I've come to see that serious classical really is music of the people, in the sense that if you follow the path that's laid out, its available for you to delve into. If 9 out of 10 artists of the highest caliber would disagree with where I'm headed, I might wish for 100% to, for the sake of the opportunity they would be protecting.

From al ku
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 1:38 PM
what are considered "pops" concert?
From Jerald Archer
Posted on October 6, 2008 at 8:51 PM
Like anything in life, everyone has different tastes and opinions as to what should be what. As a personal preference, I favour a small ensemble over a large one, particularly authentic baroque groups who play in large cathedrals. As a rule, I avoid all large gatherings of people as they tend to make me nervous. The bombardment of a large orchestra who seem to constanly perform the same pieces is not my idea of a evening well spent. But that is just my taste. On the other hand, a "pops" orchestra is subconsciously intended as an elaborate advertisment, in most cases, that is catered to those persons who may otherwise not attend an orchestral concert. This can be useful in indroducing young children to classical music (and orchestral instruments)when the program contains tunes which they are familiar with. To each their own, I always say.
From Todd Carlsen
Posted on October 7, 2008 at 4:27 AM
I would add that a chamber orchestra is a terrific variation of the classical music orchestra. The performances are more intimate with fewer players -- often musicians of a higher level of expertise. You experience the playing of several individual players working together as an ensemble, rather than a sea of instruments in a large symphony.

Many master works played by big symphonies today were originally premiered with medium-sized ensembles.

So a chamber orchestra can play Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #3 or Beethoven's Symphony #3.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine