Picnic With the Pops will not be at the Kentucky Horse Park this year, because of preparations for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
But fear not, those of you who love to pack a picnic basket in late August and listen to the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra under the stars while sipping a sweet riesling. Keeneland is riding to the rescue, and organizers are promising a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.
Cirque de la Symphonie will present on open-air performance with the Philharmonic in the meadow behind the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center and Keeneland Library on Aug. 21.
"The Picnic With the Pops Commission recognizes that missing this event, which has occurred more than 30 years at the Horse Park, is going to be a real void in our community's summer entertainment programing," commission chairman Tom Minter said Thursday. "So they made very special arrangements for a very special attraction to fill that void."
While Cirque de la Symphonie will be new to Lexington, the group is familiar to the Philharmonic's music director, Scott Terrell, who will be conducting his first Picnic With the Pops program.
"About two seasons ago in Michigan, I had a chance to do their performance there," Terrell said. "I think what was most staggering about it was how rapt people were in the audience by what was happening on the stage."
Cirque features acrobats, aerialists and performers such as a strongman that Terrell said is not to be missed.
"The problem for me is that I tend to watch them and not pay attention to the work that I am supposed to do," Terrell said.
One of the things Terrell said he appreciates about Cirque de la Symphonie is it performs to serious classical music such as Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.
"It's great orchestral music, not stuff you sort of meander your way through," he said. "It's demanding on the orchestra and demanding on the performers."
Terrell said he thinks the annual pops event presents an opportunity to bring in a variety of programming in future years.
As to whether those performances will return to the Horse Park after this year, Minter said nothing had been planned, but "it is highly likely that we will return to the Horse Park in 2011."