Steve Lippia will put the pop in West Michigan Symphony's 'Simply Swingin' – Muskegon Chronicle – MLive.com
MUSKEGON — Why do great American standards like “Mack the Knife, “Cheek to Cheek” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” continue to resonate with today’s audiences?Contributed photoSteve Lippia is considered by many to be one of the finest interpreters of pop music in the country.
“Because the music and lyrics are intrinsically excellent,” said singer and entertainer Steve Lippia.
Lippia, back in Muskegon by popular demand, will be the guest vocalist in the West Michigan Symphony’s “Simply Swingin’” pops concerts, led by Music Director Scott Speck, on Friday and Saturday. Lippia last appeared with the orchestra in 2009.
Joining Lippia with the WMS will be Mike Williams, a nationally renowned musician who plays lead trumpet in the Count Basie Orchestra.
Lippia, considered by many to be one of the finest interpreters of classic and traditional pop music in the country, said this show will be different from the all-Sinatra show he appeared in here in 2009. He said he’ll be performing a wide variety of standards from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, made famous by such artists as Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
According to press information, there will be up to 22 songs on the program.
• What: West Michigan Symphony with special guest Steve Lippia
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
• Where: Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, 425 W. Webster
• Tickets: $10, $25 and $35; purchase online at westmichigansymphony.org or by calling 231-726-3231
“It’s a celebration of music of the great male singers of all time,” Lippia said. “I just love reintroducing this music to audiences. This music lasts because it’s good. That is what it boils down to — that and the profound and simply innate natural beauty of the lyrics.
“Then there’s also the element of nostalgia. The beauty and simplicity of this music reflects a simpler time when we had fewer, less complicated questions. It reflects the kind of romanticism associated with that era’s culture.”
Lippia said that while he likes to sing this kind of music, “whether there’s anyone to hear it or not,” what he likes about performing is sharing.
“When you like a good book or find a good restaurant, you want to share that with others,” he said. “And when I’m on stage, I’m not just immersed in the music. I like to engage people. I tell anecdotes and stories. I involve the audience, which I think makes it more entertaining.”
Lippia said that he greatly enjoyed his last visit with the WMS because the orchestra was so good, and that he also enjoys working with Speck.
“A lot of orchestra conductor’s lives are immersed in their classical cloister,” he said, “but not so Scott. He feels and understands pop music, and that comes out in the way he conducts his musicians.”
“I love to sing, but I also like to entertain and put a smile on people’s faces. I hope they leave feeling better than when they came in. Maybe for two hours, they can escape and fill the hole in their soul that we all have sometimes. And go away wanting to hear more.”
Lippia has appeared with the Grand Rapids and Detroit symphonies, and has headlined extended engagements at the Rio Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. He also has recently performed with such major symphonies as Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Toronto Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic and Palm Beach Pops.
“Steve’s performances are always tremendously energetic and fun,” said Speck. His last performances here were among our best-selling shows ever. We’re thrilled to have him return to the WMS stage.”
Dawn Veltman is a Chronicle correspondent.