The Richmond Pops Band is made up of 60 musicians, all of whom come from diverse professional and musical backgrounds. (Photo courtesy Joe Simpkins/Richmond Pops Band)
Watching the Richmond Pops Band is more than just a spectator experience. During intermission, band members go into the audience and talk with friends, family and guests, breaking down the separation between performer and listener. The band will be back onstage for a free concert at the Altria Theater on Sunday, June 26, featuring special guest Soundworks, an all-male a cappella chorus from Richmond. The performance, “Evening with the Richmond Pops,” is set begin at 6:30 p.m.
Richmond Pops is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that has been performing for over 20 years. Since 2000, the band has given 50 concerts at the Altria Theater and the recently renamed Dominion Arts Center to over 180,000 guests.
“The Richmond Pops Band is completely volunteer from top to bottom,” notes director Joe Simpkins. He took on his position in ’95, and recalls that there were fewer than 10 members at the time. Since then, the band has grown to about 60. Simpkins recently celebrated his 20th anniversary with the band; he was given a plaque that he proudly displays on the wall in his office.
The band is the only community organization that stages free concerts at the Altria Theater, he points out. Funding comes mainly from small, individual donations. This year alone, the Richmond Pops received donations from 1,750 contributors. These are greatly appreciated by the band, especially since in 20 years, its expenses have risen from $1,200 to $12,000.
While all performances are free of charge, it is necessary to request tickets before the show to ensure a seat.
To keep the audience guessing, the Richmond Pops Band does not announce its musical program ahead of time, and only reveals the name of each song when it is about to be played. The band aims to both educate and entertain audiences by presenting a wide variety of musical styles.
Band members come from diverse professional and musical backgrounds. While many have obtained college degrees in music, they work in a variety of professions. But the one thing they all have in common is their music.
“Each member of the band has a passion for giving to the community,” says Simpkins. “We make music to bring happiness to people’s lives.”
For more information, visit the Richmond Pops Band website, and to request tickets for the performance, call the ticket office at 804-275-5253.