Pops concert news is not music to ears

Instead of treating us to a rousing, end-of-summer concert by the sea, this year the San Luis Obispo Symphony will offer something different: the sounds of silence.

After tossing out veteran maestro Michael Nowak — resulting in defections by some season ticket holders — the SLO Symphony is creating more disharmony in the local musical world by canceling its most popular event, the annual Pops by the Sea concert held on Labor Day weekend.

That’s a big loss. In case you’ve never attended one, pops concerts are fun, family events with accessible music you can tap your toes and shimmy your shoulders to — think Beatles and Beach Boys, rather than Beethoven.

The pops concerts at Avila Beach Golf Resort have drawn impressively large audiences, but they’ve been losing money. And overall, the SLO Symphony has been struggling financially; it ended the 2013-14 fiscal year $13,400 in the hole.

That’s not a shock — across the nation, symphonies have been struggling with dwindling audiences and are attempting to update their staid images to bring in younger listeners and boost ticket sales.

That’s one of the reasons Pops by the Sea is so important. The concerts are (were?) a great way to introduce kids to symphonic music in a laid-back setting where parents didn’t have to worry if their 6-year-old applauded at the wrong time. And, it was well within reach of a family budget; for years, children younger than 14 were free, and lawn seating was just $15.

In lieu of the seaside concert, the symphony is talking about a New Year’s Eve pops concert at the Performing Arts Center. Sorry, but that sounds sort of ho-hum, and probably not somewhere you’d take the kids. We don’t have the heart to brickbat a symphony when it’s down on its luck, so we’ll settle for making it suffer through an off-key chorus of “Auld Lang Syne.” And let’s hope that by next summer the pops are back where they belong — by the sea.

Firefighters deserve a big bouquet

We offer bouquets of gratitude to the hundreds of firefighters who battled the 1,800-acre Park Hill Fire near Santa Margarita, as well as to other emergency workers and volunteers who responded to what quickly grew to be the county’s second-largest wildfire in two decades. Sheriff’s deputies knocked on doors, advising residents to evacuate; Red Cross volunteers set up a shelter at Santa Margarita Elementary School; and county Animal Services and the Horse Emergency Evacuation Team moved livestock out of harm’s way.

Given the speed and intensity of the fire, it’s a relief there were no deaths or serious injuries. Sadly, though, several families lost their homes — two houses, four mobile homes and two recreational vehicles used as primary residences were among the properties destroyed. That’s a terrible loss, and our hearts go out to those families.

A fire of this size, this early in the season, should serve as a wake-up call to all county residents to take all possible precautions to prevent a fire — and to have an emergency plan in case flames do threaten.

Moratorium on Moriarty scoreboard

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? All it took was some black vinyl to cover up the “Moriarty Enterprises” name and — voila! — the scoreboard at Cal Poly’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium no longer bore the name of the disgraced financer who’s now serving a jail term.

So why did it take more than a year to cover up the Moriarty name?

Don’t worry, we won’t bore you with a painful recap of the legal wrangling involving Cal Poly and the bankruptcy trustees assigned to the Al Moriarty case. Suffice it to say, we believe it took way too long to get this done.

At least Moriarty’s name was covered up in time for graduation, but in this case, there won’t be any better-late-than-never bouquets.

We will, though, toss a Mustang Way bouquet to Cal Poly if it takes legal precautions to avoid future embarrassments by reserving the right to remove names of convicted felons — from scoreboards or anywhere else they may appear on campus.