PANAMA CITY — Three women known for being in the limelight will vie for center stage during this year’s Battle of the Batons at the Marina Civic Center.
“It’s an all-female competition this year: (Panama CityBeach) Mayor Gayle Oberst, Ginger Littleton and Jessica Foster. It should be entertaining!” said Connie Gittard, president of the Panama City POPS.
The Panama City POPS Orchestra will entertain audiences with its traditional program of classical and popular musical selections before the three competitors get a chance to compete in “wand warfare” on stage before intermission.
“I hope people from the entire region join us for this exciting concert. The battle always turns into a rollicking good time,” Artistic Director and Maestro Eddie Rackley said.
During intermission, audience members will vote for their favorite conductor. Each vote costs $1. The winner will conduct the final work of the program.
This year’s contest will include Oberst, who represents the City of Panama City Beach in many civic organizations and serves municipal and not-for-profit positions.
Foster, a WMBB-TV news anchor, also is a strong competitor. In 2008, she was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from The University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Seals of Approval from the American Meteorological Societyand the National Weather Association for her forecasting ability.
Littletonserves on the Bay District School Board and on the board of the Bay Education Foundation. She also works for Florida State University as director of the FSU-Panama City STEM Institute and as the engineering affiliate director of Project Lead the Way, a national engineering program.
Growing up in the Panama Canal Zone, Littleton played the piano for her high school orchestra and accompanied local musicals and entertainment.
“I read music. I have dabbled,” Littleton modestly said Tuesday evening. “I am terrified to stand in front of a full orchestra. … In terms of preparation, I have it on my iPad and listen to music and stand in front of a sequestered area and flail my arms about. … Maybe when they stop playing, I know I need to sop waving.”
Littleton, who gained national recognition for her actions during a School Board meeting Dec. 14, 2010, hopes to continue to use her brown, faux crocodile Brahmin pursefor good.
“I hope the Power of the Purse will continue Friday evening,” Littleton said. “I will bring the bag.”
When the audience votes during intermission, she said she will “beg” for money.
“I will be passing the purse,” Littleton said. “It’s not for sale, unless someone wants to buy it and donate it back. It made $26,000 for Salvage Santa the first year, and $13,000 on eBay and $13,000 was matched by the purse manufacturer, $13,000 last year and last fall $13,000 or $14,000.”
The Panama City POPS concerts traditionally are a combination of familiar, light classical works and popular arrangements.
The first half of Friday night’s program will include “The Marriage of Figaro Overture” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; George Bizet’s “Farandole,” his incidental music to the play, “L’Arlesienne;” and the “Academic Festival” Overture by Johannes Brahms.
The second half will feature popular favorites by more modern composers, as well as works by composers well-known to Panama City POPS’ audiences. The orchestra will perform “Francisco de Goya Overture,” a Spanish overture by Kevin Kaska, American composer, producer and arranger, and will debut “New Hope,” a composition by local musician and Panama City POPS’ Principal Bassist David Goldflies.
“ ‘New Hope’ is named after a town north of Panama City Beach. I bought a house in the middle of nowhere. … It’s a beautiful, fun, quiet, peaceful place fun to write music,” said Goldflies, who is most known for his time with The Allman Brothers Band.
He wrote “New Hope” after being inspired by a walk through a cemetery in the small town. As he worked on the piece, he began to visualize POPS members playing it. This will be the first time Goldflies will have had one of his works performed by a full orchestra.
On Friday night, Goldflies’ father, Bruce Goldflies, will present his hand-carved batons to each guest conductor.
Hear the music
The Panama City POPS orchestra will debut “New Hope,” a composition by local musician and Panama City POPS bassist David Goldflies during the Battle of the Batons. Check it out: https://soundcloud.com/goldflies-music/new-hope.
BATTLEOF THE BATONS
What: PanamaCityPOPS concert; competition featuringPanama City BeachMayor Gayle Oberst, Ginger Littleton and Jessica Foster
When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18
Where: Panama City Marina Civic Center
Tickets: $29.50; $20 for seniors and active military; $10 for children; tickets available at the Marina Civic Center box office (763-4696 or MarinaCivicCenter.com)
Details: PanamaCityPOPS.org or 785-POPS (7677)