Guest Column: Perrico Concert Was a Celebration of the City

By George Denney

My wife, Arlene, and I were at our first concert before we were married, clapping hands and standing on our seats in Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.

It was 1968, and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles were on stage.

Memories of that night more than 50 years ago filled me with wild emotion as we stood with the crowd at Powers Auditorium on Valentine’s Day to applaud David Perrico for his composition, “Youngstown Steeltown,” performed by Pop Symphonic and the Youngstown Symphony.

Perrico’s trumpet and his tribute to our city sparked a standing ovation by an audience composed of symphony concert regulars, Chaney High School and YSU Dana School of Music alumni and others who came to welcome home one of their own. It was a magical scene in the middle of the city in which I have resided for more than 70 years.

George Denney

Full disclosure: David Perrico is a close friend; his father is a lifetime friend; and his brother, Brian, is our godson.

I remember the winter weekends years ago when David, Brian and our son, Steve, went sledding in Mill Creek Park, and when David’s father went to Vietnam. A half century has gone by, and here we are.

I am neither a music critic nor have I ever written a review. But I have something to say about good things that happen in my community, and I like to talk about people from our city who do well.

At the Powers Auditorium concert, Perrico and 14 of his musicians and vocalists from Las Vegas, with local guest artist Jackie Popovec of The Vindys, joined with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra for a joyful blend of classical, opera, pop and rock music – all arranged by Perrico, who served as guest conductor.

Perrico is a native of Youngstown and a graduate of Chaney High School and Dana School of Music. For the popular Las Vegas entertainer, his hometown concert was like a celebration with friends.

Since relocating to Las Vegas 20 years ago, he has become one of the most in-demand musicians for casinos, private parties and concerts. His wife, Lily Arce, is a vocal artist with several groups in Vegas. She also performed at the show in Youngstown.

Perrico has organized several bands in his career. He currently fronts a 19-piece ensemble that is the house band for the Las Vegas Raiders and performs at all home games at Allegiant Stadium.

Perrico had started working to create a pop music and symphony orchestra blend in 2020, when casinos shut down their live shows. Forced to stay home during the pandemic, he wrote compositions and music arrangements for days – pausing for the occasional hike with Lily.

When Covid restrictions were lifted, he gathered 60 top musicians and eight vocalists to create his Pop Symphonic orchestra. The act puts a lively and brassy spin on popular songs.

He performed some of his arrangements in Youngstown, featuring Pop Symphonic members Arce and Fletch Walcott on vocals, Andrew Friedlander on tenor sax and David Siegal on piano.

Perrico features the string section. Pop Symphonic travels with an animated group of violinists and cellists that move and sound as one. This was especially true in Perrico’s arrangement of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band.

I’ve attended Pop Strings concerts in Las Vegas and a game at Allegiant Stadium while the Raiders House Band performed. On each occasion, audiences and crowds connected with Perrico.

It happened again in Youngstown on Valentine’s Day.

In all his work, Perrico strives for a connection with his audience, and when it happens, he says you can feel the love. It was obvious again when many gathered at Penguin City Brewing after the concert. Perrico shook hands and hugged friends and fans for two hours.

Cities like Youngstown need to feel the love, to celebrate themselves, to celebrate the achievements of those among us. That’s why David Perrico’s return was so important. 

Let’s hope we see Pop Symphonic again.

Editor’s note: George Denney is happily retired after working three careers over a 50-year span. He was a steelworker in Youngstown, a reporter for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator, and a Youngstown Municipal Court administrator. He and his wife remain city residents.

Pictured at top: David Perrico leads the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra in concert Feb. 14 at Powers Auditorium.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.