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Gainesville Symphony kicks off holiday weekend with a pop
Some 1,000 enjoy annual Patriotic Pops Concert
Hundreds gather Thursday night at the Brenau University Amphitheater for the annual Patriotic Pops concert by the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra.

Gainesville Symphony Orchestra treated a star-spangled audience to patriotic tunes Thursday at the annual Patriotic Pops Concert at the Brenau University Amphitheater.

Gregory Pritchard conducted the full orchestra through such Fourth of July favorites as "Olympic Fanfare," "Liberty Bell March," "You’re a Grand Old Flag" and "Stars and Stripes Forever."

This year, the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra debuted a new arrangement of "Dixie" along with its other time-honored tunes. Pam Bilyeu, president of the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra board, said prior to the show that the arrangement would be introduced during a surprise encore.

"We had wanted to do a new arrangement of "Dixie" for a while, but we were not able to find an orchestrated version of it. So we commissioned world-renowned composer Charles Sayre to do it," Bilyeu said. "He did it on a Boston Pops theme. It’s very clever, and in the middle of it you hear ‘Yankee Doodle.’"

About 1,000 people sat on picnic blankets and in lawn chairs to enjoy the festivities, which drew newcomers and annual attendees alike.

The Hopkins family of Richmond, Va., were in town visiting family.

"We’ve lived in different places, and we always do something like this for the Fourth," Scott Hopkins said before the show. "I’m looking forward to hearing the ‘1812 Overture.’"

Corinne Dyer, a Samford college student, said she came to hear her violinist teacher play.

"I like the music. When I was not in college, I frequented the symphony," Dyer said.

Pam Slayton, executive director of the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra, said the concert set the scene for a nostalgic atmosphere.

"It’s the type of celebration for years gone by. The patriotic music reminds us of our heritage," Slayton said.

Slayton added that the new arrangement of "Dixie" will be added to Patriotic Pops’ Fourth of July repertoire.

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