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The History of The Mobile Pops

The embryo of the Mobile Pops was another music organization, the Spirit of Mobile Marching 200, created as part of the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration of 1976. The enthusiasm created by this marching unit attired in red, white and blue uniforms, performing patriotic marches and trailing a corps of 50 American flags on the streets of Mobile, led to the creation of the City of Mobile Symphonic Pops Band, established by Ordinance of the City Commissioners on April 5, 1977.

The Band's first directors, William Sirmon Lee and Larry F. Keating, consulted with the dean of America's community bands, Dr. John Paynter, of Northwestern University and the highly acclaimed Northshore Community Band. Much of the philosophy and organization of this group was incorporated into the Band at its inception. Dr. Paynter later conducted the group as a guest conductor.

The inaugural concert of the Mobile Symphonic Pops Band took place on December 1, 1977, at the Mobile Municipal Theater, highlighted by the world premier of Dr. James Sclater's "Mobile Suite" commissioned for this performance. Two more indoor concerts were performed before the Band began outdoor concerts in 1978. Over the next few years, the Band enjoyed the popularity and success in a variety of concert performances. In addition to regular outdoor performances at Mobile Municipal Park, the Band performed at the Southern Music Educators Conference at the University of Southern Mississippi; gave an evening performance at the World's Fair in New Orleans; produced a thrilling rendition of the "1812 Overture" at Fort Conde with the accompaniment of cannon and muskets from the Fort and the bells of Christ Episcopal Church; dedicated the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway with a concert choreographed with a gigantic fireworks display; and provided a stirring tribute to the veterans of Desert Storm with a 4th of July concert at Battleship Park.

The Band's trademark Starbright concerts began on a natural park incline, the audience on the hill, the Band at the base. Soon after Hurricane Frederic, the Band graduated to improved facilities when it dedicated the Langan Park Performing Arts Pavilion, with a concert ending with an inspiring fireworks finale. Other concerts have showcased the musicians' talents under the oaks of Washington Square, on the bluff overlooking Mobile Bay in Fairhope, under the water tower on Dauphin Island, from Cathedral Square, and from Cooper Riverside Park.

In 1991, the Band was reorganized with a new Constitution and a new name. The City of Mobile Symphonic Pops Band became the Mobile Symphonic Pops Band, Inc., a non-profit community arts organization. These changes reflected the Band's growing role in the larger metropolitan area.


As the Band has entered into the 21 st century, the focus remains on quality performance and community involvement. The Band is now simply referred to as The Mobile Pops, and continues to play 8-10 concerts each year at various venues. As the Band celebrates its 40th anniversary, its performances will be centered on the new millennium and the Tricentennial of the City of Mobile.




Creation of the Spirit of Mobile Marching 200 as part of the U.S. Bicentennieal Celebration of 1976.


City of Mobile Syphonic Pops Band established by Ordinance of the City Commissioners on April 5, 1976


The City of Mobile Symphonic Pops Band was reorganized with a new constitution and renamed The Mobile Symphonic Pops Band.

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