HANFORD — For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kings Symphony Orchestra is returning to live performances and is kicking things off with a night under the stars for their most widely attended show.
The annual Pops Concert, set for June 6, is the most popular of the year for the Kings County orchestra and after being cloistered away and unable to be live and in person, they’re ready to play – so much so that they’d even do it for free.
It’s a good thing they are, since according to music director Jeff Fritz, the passing of Assembly Bill 5 in late 2019 has caused a snag that legally makes the orchestra unable to pay its players.
Originally written to provide benefits to gig economy workers such as those with Uber and Lyft, an unforeseen circumstance of the bill is that musicians would have to receive the benefits of a full-time employee for doing their gigs, something a small orchestra like Kings Symphony can’t financially manage.
Until a way to pay their gig musicians is officially sorted out, the orchestra had to ask their musicians to volunteer. Fritz expected a sharp drop in the number of players for the June 6 concert, but to his surprise, he says it’ll be one of their largest orchestras.
“I think the community – especially the musicians – recognize the need for music and live music in particular,” Fritz said. “I and a lot of my colleagues spent the year doing Zoom concerts — it’s better than nothing, but not by much. It’s pretty terrible.”
The Pops Concert will consist of selections from films and musicals such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Participating in one of the songs is Daniel Coakley, a young man who runs a lemonade stand and does community work for Hanford, who’ll be joining as a guest conductor.
“He does a lot of great stuff for the community – real sweet kid,” Fritz said. “And we wanted to honor him.”
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. outside the Hanford Civic Auditorium. Food trucks will also be present for the event.