Hard to believe that is was 25-years ago, along the banks of Bear Creek, just west of the village of Cannonsburg, the Grand Rapids Symphony stepped on stage beneath a new outdoor band shell, and a new West Michigan summer tradition, Picnic Pops, was born. It's been a super-summer hit ever since.

In 1995, Pianist Rich Ridenour was soloist in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” and the night ended with fireworks over the hills of Cannonsburg Ski Area. How exciting for all.

This summer, the 25th season of the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens much as it did in July 1995 with Ridenour, ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and the rockets’ red glare as part of a star-spangled, spectacular salute to America.

Terry Johnston

Four weeks of “Symphony under the Sky” also features, from Liverpool, the music of The Beatles; from Detroit, a salute to Motown’s greatest hits; and from Nashville, a special one-night only appearance starring the singer-songwriters who wrote the hits that made Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw famous.

Held on Thursdays and Fridays in July, the Picnic Pops season opens with Classical Fireworks: Salute to America on July 11-12. Rock rolls on with Classical Mystery Tour: 50 Years of The Beatles’ White Album on July 18-19, followed by Motown … The Greatest Hits of Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Four Tops and More! on July 25-26. Capping off the summer is Nashville: The Songwriters. Their Stories. The Symphony, starring the Music City Hit-Makers for one night only on Friday, Aug. 2.

Season tickets offering substantial discounts, as well as single tickets for Music City Hit-Makers are on sale now. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to PicnicPops.org. Single tickets for the rest of the 2019 D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops go on sale on Wednesday, May 1.