By Amy Strauss
The Reading Pops Orchestra, co-conducted by Willis M. Rapp and Charles Weiser, held its annual Father's Day concert under the linden trees at the Reading Public Museum.
Celebrating fathers and families, a crowd of over 350 people enjoyed popular classics, Broadway show tunes, movie hits, marches and big band selections as the temperature reached 93 degrees.
The annual Father's Day concert normally features guest soloists, but the Reading Pops found it fitting to showcase some of its own members this year.
During the performance of Leroy Anderson's "The Typewriter," Rapp introduced Brian Holt, a percussionist to the orchestra, who lugged to the front an antique typewriter and humorously played along to the classic song.
"As you can see, two-thirds of being a percussionist is bringing the gear," Rapp said to the audience with a smile. Holt, a modern Sousa scholar, has been a members of the Reading Pops for many years, and he was even asked to travel throughout the United States with some the best instrumentalists in the country.
The Reading Pops Orchestra, a professional orchestra established in 1969, was founded by Wes Fisher. They perform popular classics and classic pop, or lighter-flair music. Holding many annual events in the Berks area, their concerts are funded by sponsoring organizations and corporations, including the Reading Musical Foundation.
Randall Newnham of Exeter Township joined his son, Johnathon, front and center, during the Father's Day concert. During John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post," a composition that Sousa had performed the same weekend many years ago, Johnathon danced and mimicked the conductor as the march was performed.
"Johnathon likes to help conduct," his father said.
Co-conductor Charles Weiser, who's been with the Reading Pops for the past 15 years, said the orchestra has "a great group of people's heritage. It is a great experience, and it shows that others find it a great experience as well when it's 92 degrees and over 350 people are sitting outside watching us."
The orchestra entertained their guests with Broadway tunes such as "Guys and Dolls," salutes to legendary composers like Richard Rodgers, and several other notable performances, such as "Orpheus in the Underworld" and the "Lord of Dance."
Lisa Sharer of West Reading, a cello player of the orchestra, said, "I have played since I was a kid and to continue, was a good thing to do."
The orchestra concluded their Father's Day celebration with their rendition of "God Bless America." The audience stood to sing along to the grand finale.
"On behalf of Charles Weiser and Willis Rapp, it is a pleasure to be with you this afternoon," concluded Rapp.
The Reading Pops Orchestra will continue appearances with an upcoming performance on Sunday, June 25 at Gring's Mill Amphitheater. The performance will feature some of the youth soloists of Berks County.