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Eat pizza and listen to FM Symphony Oct. 8 in DL

Does your heart soar when you hear the "Star Wars" movie theme? Did you weep when you heard the theme to "Schindler's List" for the first time?

If you're a movie music buff, or even if you just love music, you might want to check out the "Pizza Pops Concert with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra: A John Williams Spectacular!" in Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre.

Set to take place next Sunday, Oct. 8, the show actually begins with a 12:30 p.m. pizza luncheon in the Holmes Ballroom (adjacent to the theater). The movie "Star Wars" will be screened during the luncheon, which is free to all concert-goers.

Then, at 2 p.m., the 80-member Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra takes the stage of the main Historic Holmes Theatre for an afternoon of spectacular music, featuring not only the work of John Williams, but also familiar pieces from Beethoven, Wagner, Aaron Copeland and more.

This will be the second concert by the F-M Symphony Orchestra at the Holmes Theatre in the past year -- and that's no accident, according to the Symphony's executive director, Jeff vom Saal.

We did a concert in Detroit Lakes last January," said vom Saal. "We received a really warm welcome, so we decided pretty much immediately that we would like to do it again."

But this time, vom Saal and the Symphony's musical director, Bernie Rubenstein, decided that they would like to do something a little more light-hearted.

"Last year it was the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, so we did something on his music," said vom Saal. "This time we decided that a 'pizza pops' concert would be ideal."

Though John Williams -- who composed the soundtracks for several popular movie series including "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones" and "Harry Potter," among others -- won't be the only composer highlighted, all of the music will be very familiar to the audience, vom Saal noted.

"This is music everyone knows and loves," he said. "We thought it would be a really nice way to bring the orchestra back to Detroit Lakes."

One other special touch to next Sunday's concert will be a special appearance by guest conductor Ken Freed, who is currently the assistant conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra.

This will be Freed's first appearance with the F-M Symphony.

"I'm a pretty informal guy," he said. "That's probably why they called me up."

Freed said that unlike a formal orchestra performance, the "Pizza Pops Concert" will feature musicians wearing more casual dress and a more relaxed atmosphere.

"The whole idea of having (the concert) centered around pizza and pop is brilliant," he said. "Once you sit down and break bread, have a coke, everyone's much more relaxed -- it's not the usual concert scene. We're really going there to have fun.

"A lot of the heroic music John Williams writes gets our blood pounding. How does he do that? I think it's very interesting to explore that. Plus it's great music that everybody knows. It taps into our collective unconsciousness.

"But where does John Williams come from creatively? He comes from Beethoven, Wagner, Copeland... There's a reason you get all psyched up when you're listening to this music. We're going to be exploring that together."

Freed said that one of his true passions is music education.

"I'm very passionate about keeping music in the schools," he said. "I have a Learning through Music consulting group -- I'm the president of that."

The goal of this non-profit group, he says, is "to make sure music is at the center of every child's education. We've developed a music integration curriculum to use in schools. There are lots of shared concepts between music and academics, so it's really about empowering the teachers."

Besides using familiar tunes and creating a less formal atmosphere, vom Saal said, the Symphony is also making it more accessible in the literal sense, by bringing the music to venues outside the immediate Fargo-Moorhead area.

"This is one of our big initiatives, to make music accessible in every respect," he explained. "Geographically, by bringing the music to where people are; artistically, by bringing them music that's familiar, but also high quality; and socioeconomically, by purposely making the tickets very affordable -- you can take a family of five for $25, and that includes the pizza. That's a great deal."

The 5 tickets for $25 special is a family package, explained theater administrator Amy Stoller Stearns. Individual tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454