This preview has been provided by the Greensboro Symphony.

by David L. Nelson

Music is filled with wonderful love songs. You can find them on Broadway, in the movies, recorded by country or rock superstars, and even in classical pieces going back several hundred years. And opening next week’s Valentine’s Day concert at Westover Church is perhaps the best known of all love songs – Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love”.

We all have great memories when we think of these classic lyrics, “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it”. Singing these words will be John Pagano. John has had a great solo career, but is probably even better known for his longtime collaboration with one of the most important names in American popular song, Burt Bacharach.

Bacharach’s Lead Singer

The two met when John sang on some of Bacharach’s studio recordings. Bacharach liked Pagano’s singing so much that he invited him to be the influential song writer’s lead singer fourteen years ago. The two have literally toured the world together. Just a few weeks after his Greensboro concert, John and Burt perform throughout Australia.

Not only are Pagano and Bacharach collaborators, but John gives credit to the great song writer for inspiration. “I’ve learned so much from Burt. When I was younger, I thought it was all about going for it and singing as loud as you can to get people to react. But I remember him saying to me, ‘You can make someone cry with the softest note.’ He taught me to translate that sensitivity to the smallest gestures.”

“This Guy’s in Love with You”

During the Valentine’s Day concert, John will sing two of Bacharach’s classic love songs: “This Guy’s In Love” and “Wives and Lovers.” Pagano does not try to imitate any other singer – he sings them in his own interpretation. “I’m doing these songs in a way that suits my voice. I try to do what the arrangements and the songs tell me to. When it comes time to perform, I close my eyes, I listen, and I react. It’s like being a boxer — you can train all you want in the gym, but it’s totally different when you step into the ring.”

The concert will not only feature love songs, but also will salute the Big Band Era and Henry Mancini. You’ll hear “Time After Time,”  “Night and Day,”  “Any Day Now,” “Talk to Me,” “Call Me Irresponsible,”  and many others. The sumptuous arrangements were made expressly for John and an orchestra.

Sinatra as Alarm Clock

Also sharing the stage with John will be his pianist, Jeff Collella and his brother Vinnie on drums. John’s family was a huge influence on his musical upbringing. In addition to Vinnie bringing jazz into their childhood home in Providence, Rhode Island, their father had a unique way of bringing his favorite music into the house. “My father woke us up every morning to go to school with Sinatra recordings.” This certainly must have been a nice alternative to any alarm clock. Since that time, he says, “I’ve always had the feel for Frank’s music.”

So be sure to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special by hearing a concert of love songs sung by a master and performed with the GSO POPS. And if you know some educated fleas, you can invite them, too.

SINGLE TICKETS ($22-$38) are available by credit card phone order at the Symphony Box Office at (336) 335-5456 x224 or in person. Single tickets are also available at the Greensboro Coliseum Box Office. For further information, please call (336) 335-5456 x 224, or purchase online at (service charge applies). Student tickets are available for $10 with Student ID.