GPC to host Picnic Pops Concert

If you're looking for a free outdoor family event this weekend, then pack up your picnic basket and blanket and head on over to Georgia Perimeter College's Newton Campus for the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra Picnic Pops concert.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, the performance promises an evening of varied "light and colorful" classics that both children and adults will enjoy, said DeKalb Symphony Music Director and Conductor Fyodor Cherniavsky.

"It's just really relaxing and it exposes people to the symphony orchestra in a lighter vein," said Cherniavsky, a British-born conductor who has led the orchestra since 2006 and is currently a music producer for ACA Digital and broadcast recording producer for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The 90-minute program will include the theme from "Spider-Man," music from the concert series "Video Games Live," works by Gershwin, "Jupiter" from Gustav Holst's "Planet Suite" and Sousa marches. For one of the marches, Cherniavsky recruits a child from the audience to be a guest conductor for the orchestra.

"I have to find a willing victim," Cherniavsky joked. "It's really a fun thing."

The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra completes the evening with Morton Gould's "American Salute."

"It's a patriotic salute to honor the people who serve the country," Cherniavsky said.

As the audience leaves the concert, the orchestra will also perform "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"It's tremendously popular. They love it," said Cherniavsky, who added that this concert marks the second year for the show.

The 85-member DeKalb Symphony Orchestra is primarily volunteer and is in permanent residency at the Clarkston Campus of Georgia Perimeter College where the orchestra's season includes seven concerts performed September through July.

Established in 1964, the DeKalb Symphony has a "loyal band of supporters" who fill the 500-seat hall at GPC Clarkston, said Cherniavsky, but they're always looking for new followers. A season ticket to the concert series is $110 and after every concert the audience is invited to a reception where they can meet the players.

"It's just an incredible deal," said Cherniavsky, who said he is excited about two upcoming concerts including a May 19 performance by ASO concert master and violinist Cecylia Arzewski and a July 24 summer pops concert featuring pianist Mac Frampton.

The DeKalb Symphony also performs two Picnic Pops concerts annually and offers an annual children's concert, with "Peter and the Wolf" being on the program every other year.

Cherniavsky said he hopes the upcoming GPC Newton concert becomes an annual tradition that the community can appreciate for years to come and that it whets their appetite to hear more from the DeKalb Symphony.

"(The Picnic Pops concert) is like a sampler of a symphony orchestra and maybe they can become more interested in some of the more serious classics and attend our other concerts," he said.

E-mail Karen J. Rohr at karen.rohr@rockdalecitizen.com.