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Live Reviews

Peter Nero and the Philly Pops Celebrate the Music of the “Greatest Generation”

By Published: April 16, 2010
Second, the popular jazz-based music of WW II had a distinct purpose of maintaining the morale of a people who had to muster their energy and faith to fight two enemies abroad. For that reason, it never protested the harsh, cruel realities of war. An anti-war number would never be included in the "Stage Door Canteen." Bernstein's rocking "Times Square" from On the Town was included, but not excerpts from Britten's A War Requiem. Nor could Picasso's mural "Guernica" or W. Eugene Smith's photograph of two Pacific Campaign soldiers carrying a critically injured child be shown in the background.

Finally, there was a disturbing shortage of African Americans and servicewomen in the audience. Segregation and anti-feminism were realities in America during World War II. African Americans had to serve in separate units from whites. Women were regarded largely as caretakers and sex objects. Japanese Americans were placed in detention camps due to unwarranted fear they might betray their country. Discrimination in America was and is a reality that needs to be acknowledged in terms of its past and present consequences. The music of WWII largely ignored these societal inequities.

None of these reflections takes away from what was an exceptional concert performance by the Philly Pops and featured vocalists. But as the highly decorated WWII veteran Audie Murphy said, "War is Hell." And our own hypocrisy is yet another unmentionable hell for many people. We should not be lulled by sweet music into forgetting these realities. In the words of philosopher George Santayana, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Featured performers (in addition to the Philly Pops and Lynn Roberts):

Michael Barnett, bass, vocal; George Mazzeo, drums

The Voices of the Pops (Jeffrey Kern, Director): Nina Fine, Melissa Kolczynski, Carla Smith (as "The Andrews Sisters")

Playlist of Songs (orchestra only unless otherwise noted)

"Strike Up the Band" (Count Basie arrangement)

"The Sunny Side of the Street" (Lynn Roberts)

"We Musn't Say Goodbye"

"Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (Andrews Sisters)

"I Don't Want to Walk without You" (Roberts)

"Times Square" from Leonard Bernstein's "On the Town"

"I Left My Heart at the Stage Door Canteen" (Roberts)

"I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" (Roberts)

"Pick Yourself Up" (Peter Nero, piano)

"Moonlight Serenade" (Glenn Miller arr.)

"You'll Never Know (Just How Much I Love You" (Roberts)

"It's Been a Long, Long Time" (Roberts)

"Chatanooga Choo-Choo" (Glenn Miller arrangement for Tex Beneke and the Modernaires)

Suite from Oklahoma

"And the Angels Sing" (Roberts)

"I Had the Craziest Dream" (Roberts)

"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (Andrews Sisters)

"Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me" (Roberts and Barnett, vocal duo) "I'll Walk Alone" (Roberts)

"Sentimental Journey" with "When the Lights Go on Again All Over the World" (Roberts)

Anthems of the U.S. Armed Forces

"The Philly Pops Clap Song" conducted by Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter

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