Chattanooga Symphony & Opera executive director Molly Sasse thinks of the annual Pops on the River concert as akin to turkey on Thanksgiving -- it's a tradition.
"It only comes once a year," she said. "I think if we played it every other week it would get very old, but it's just special because it's what everybody associates with the birthday of our country. I think the musicians get a bang out of playing it, and I know the audience loves it."
Last year's presentation in Coolidge Park was actually music director Kayoko Dan's first time at the CSO podium, with the exception of her audition concert before being named music director.
"She wasn't scheduled to do it," said Sasse. "She stepped in for Bob (Bernhardt, music director emeritus) when he had (a conflict). That was her surprise unveiling."
This year, after a successful first season with the CSO, Dan will once again be leading the concert, which will feature standard patriotic music.
"We try not to deviate too much from what people expect," Sasse said. "You expect to hear Sousa marches, and you expect to hear patriotic things, and the '1812 Overture,' and we're going to give them all that."
The concert will also include a traditional sing-along, selections from "Carmen" and "Colonel Bogey March" from "Bridge Over the River Kwai," as well as John Williams' "Oympic Fanfare" in celebration of the upcoming Summer Games in London.
Sasse said one of the elements she likes best is the Armed Forces salute, in which all service members are asked to stand and the music from each branch is played.
"It's fun to thank them and see everybody stand up," she said.
One final tradition: The concert takes place on July 3, Sasse said, to free everyone up to celebrate the Fourth with their families.
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IF YOU GO
What: Pops on the River.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Coolidge Park, 150 River St.