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MUSIC : 'Give 'Em What They Want to Hear' Is This Director's Credo

December 06, 1990|CHRIS PASLES | Chris Pasles covers music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition.

John Hall, who founded the Cypress Pops Orchestra in 1989, believes that he has his finger on the cultural pulse of Orange County.

"I decided to start a pops orchestra because I think it's more conducive to Southern California culture, versus a symphony orchestra," Hall, 47, said recently.

"There is too much competition in the Southern California area for entertainment. . . . I give audiences what they want to hear, not what I want to hear. Pops repertory is popular . . . people like to hear light classical music."

Hall's orchestra will give a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Cypress Community Center. The program will include works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Copland, plus holiday selections and a Neil Diamond medley.

"We really have a mix," Hall said. "That's why we're getting more popular."

Hall looks to the Boston Pops as his model.

"Their literature is a montage of Broadway show tunes, classical overtures, waltzes, film and television theme music and, of course, marches," he said.

The Cypress Pops gave its first concert on March 31, 1989, at a local hotel and quickly outgrew that spot. Originally, Hall said, the orchestra was made up of 27 players "from all walks of life--some professional, some amateur, and many students--university students--from Orange County and a few from Los Angeles." It now has 55 members.

"We have yearly auditions for the various positions," Hall said. "Membership is free-lance musicians and high-caliber university music students."

Hall, who is a graduate in trombone and conducting from the Juilliard School in New York, has lived in Cypress for the past 5 1/2 years, teaching at Cypress College and at Compton Community College and leading the Long Beach Community Band.

He turned to conducting, he said, looking to express himself more completely.

"An instrument can be limited. There is only so much literature for the trombone. . . . And I always wanted to conduct an orchestra."

The Cypress Pops Orchestra raised "in excess of $40,000" its first year through corporate gifts, a grant from the city of Cypress and private support. "This year we anticipated a budget of about $70,000," Hall said. "We're not there yet, but we're getting closer."

In fact, the orchestra had to cancel a concert scheduled for Oct. 21 in order to stay within its means, and management has begun to rethink its free admission policy.

"At this point, concerts are always free," Hall said. "That will probably change next year, but we will have to have board action on that decision. We probably will charge for inside concerts and all outside ones will be free."

The orchestra usually plays indoors at Cypress College or at the Cypress Community Center; outside concerts are at Cypress Green.

Hall takes the financial struggle in stride, however.

"I think this is just the standard procedure," he said. "It takes time to initiate an orchestra. We're very patient. . . . I'm really ecstatic about where we're going. My basic premise is that our orchestra provides a multitude of entertainment that all can enjoy. It means a complete family package."

What: Cypress Pops Orchestra.

When: Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

Where: Cypress Community Center, 5700 Orange Ave., Cypress.

Whereabouts: San Diego Freeway or Garden Grove Freeway to Valley View Street exit; north to Orange Avenue; left to the Community Center.

Wherewithal: Admission is free.

Where to Call: (714) 527-0964.

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