The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is known for producing shows that blend their extraordinary orchestral talent with that of popular artists across multiple genres, showcasing the power of music to bring together seemingly unlikely partners on stage and creating memorable experiences for the audience. Familiar with and appreciative of this approach, I was still blown away by the nostalgic, heartwarming experience of the Indigo Girls joining forces with the Pops for an evening of timeless songs and stellar harmonies that was the best way to kick off the holiday season. Whether you are a long-time fan or newly introduced to the Grammy Award-winning folk rock duo, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, this show was the best kind of holiday magic, embracing you with the warmth and familiarity of the Pops’ red splendor at Music Hall coupled with the distinctive vocal narrative of two women who have spent a lifetime sharing their thoughts through song. This show was the absolute personification of the “Power of Two.”
After more than three decades of performing together on the road, it’s clear that they are comfortable in any setting and confident enough to perform even better with a full orchestra at their backs. Every song came with the Indigo Girls swapping out acoustic guitars for electrics or mandolins or more acoustic guitars — creating a cadence of expectation that each song is unique and deserving of its own instrument. Their “string” talent is surpassed only by their singular voices, which blend and meld beautifully to create gorgeous, moody melodies that bring out their poetic insights into life and love. Saliers reminds us that “when we write songs, we write about things we’re thinking about,” often drawing from political and social issues. This show featured the very best of their familiar favorites while sharing new and lesser-known songs, emphasizing their range of experiences and perspectives. And while people tend to love or hate their bluesy, folksy sound, it was clear that this particular audience were utter fans of these women who have shown that a lifetime of hard work, friendship and being authentic is the best form of girl power.
For me personally, this show was more emotional than I anticipated. It took me back to college and my journey from child to adult where navigating powerful emotions often resulted in finding solace in songs that seemed to speak the language of my heart. Indigo Girls was one of those groups for me. Their insightful lyrics stay with me to this day to serve as rallying cries for life (“The hardest to learn was the least complicated” and “I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed”). Sitting beside my two girls, age 8 and 11, this was particularly poignant as I attempt to help them navigate their own journey of life. With both being budding pianists and composers in their own right, I found myself leaning over often and whispering in their ears to share my excitement at the talent on stage. By the end of the evening, the Pops + Indigo Girls had helped me create one more magical memory. Huge thanks to the Pops for being visionary in their approach to creating music and memories in a way that is so much more than “Closer to Fine.” Do not miss your chance to experience the Pops this season!
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls (8 and 11), best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on shopper innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of every kind, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning every day through books and connecting with others, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection (highly recommend DanceFix and Pilates Reformer), and delights in spending time with family and friends. Writing reviews for the arts is an absolute privilege and one she cherishes every day, with the hope that sharing her perspective will inspire others to embrace the arts.