Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Backstage Pass: Orchestra's Pops series ends with a bang

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. May 7, 2014
Molly Cherryholmes
Molly Cherryholmes
  • Arts + Culture
  • Share

John Wesolowski is the guy donning a clipboard and walkie-talkie whenever Sarasota Orchestra sets up for a concert. As the director of operations, his job is to oversee everything and everyone involved in the production, from setup and teardown to sound and lighting. He’s the go-to man for making sure everything is done according to plan.

When Wesolowski started working here in October, one of his first responsibilities was planning the final Pops series concert — Spirit of America. The Saturday, May 10, concert is special, because for the first time in Sarasota Orchestra’s 65-year history it will perform at Ed Smith Stadium.

The concert is part of the Orioles’ inaugural art and entertainment, family-friendly series, “Arts in the Ballpark.”
“We think that we’re going to be the highlight of their series this year,” Wesolowski says.

Like the other Pops concerts, Maestro Andrew Lane will direct the orchestra in recognizable popular music such as, “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas,” the “Star Wars” theme and works from “West Side Story.”
The guest artist of the concert is bluegrass singer Molly Cherryholmes — she’s been nominated for five Grammys.

It’s the same high-quality musicianship you’d expect at any orchestra performance, but, unlike traditional concerts, it has the added bonus of a beer and a hotdog, and it features a fireworks display for the finale. Wesolowski says they expect the event to sell out. Tickets start at $15.

The musicians will play by the home team dugout just on the edge of the grass and face the third-base section where 2,800 seats will be partitioned off for the audience.

It’s a concert requiring a lot of coordinating. For Wesolowski, the hardest part comes the morning of the concert. His team will start at the Symphony Center, loading all the chairs, music stands and percussion equipment into a semi-truck. The stage and lighting will also arrive around the same time. A company out of Tampa, ESI Audio, will provide the sound equipment.

He says his biggest job is coordinating the timing of when the equipment, stage and lighting comes in and out of the venue. His biggest worry isn’t one he’s used to — grass.

“It’s extremely important for everyone not to drive on the grass,” he says.

Spirit of America
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 10
Where: Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota
Cost: Students from $5; adults starting at $15
Info: Call 953-3434 or visit


Latest News