Listen for love in all the right places with MSO’s ‘Heart Beats’

Guest pianist Scott Cuellar

Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s “Heart Beats” Pops concert February 10 ramps up the romance with a lineup that celebrates love in all its richness, rapture, pang and promise.

Pop hits, movie themes and treasured classics will strike a knowing chord with listeners, in a program that taps Titanic, the Beatles, 007, Puccini, Gershwin, Mozart and more. This is a chance to key into the instrumental brilliance at the music’s core. It’s also a chance to highlight some of the stories behind songs and scores in the lineup.

Unlike the movie’s titular ship, James Horner’s Titanic score didn’t sink. Total opposite. It became history’s biggest-selling orchestral soundtrack. The movie’s love theme “My Heart Will Go On” won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1998.

Karl Jenkins’ Palladio was inspired by 16th century Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio and his harmonious proportions. The first movement’s adaptation and use in “A Diamond Is Forever” TV ad secured a forever association with the gem.

Two recordings of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s torch ballad “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar hit Billboard’s Top 40 at the same time — one by singer Helen Reddy and one by original cast member Yvonne Elliman.

The Beatles’ optimistic and engaging “All You Need Is Love” was Britain’s contribution to the Our World TV show, the first live worldwide satellite link-up, on June 25, 1967. Since 2009, Global Beatles Day celebrates the band’s music and message on June 25, in tribute to their performance in the broadcast.

John Barry’s music for the 007 film Goldfinger is one of eleven James Bond films he scored, and the title song is one of three Bond theme songs (the most by any singer) that Shirley Bassey recorded. As the story goes, its recording lasted all night because of music and technical hitches. At one point, Bassey stepped behind a studio partition and out of her bra to be able to belt out the song’s final climactic high note. She held the note and held it, and with Barry’s encouragement held it some more and when it finished, she nearly passed out.

Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” has been used in a wide variety of motion pictures — G.I. Jane and Mr. Bean’s Holiday, even — but it’s likely most famous as the fitting title track in the equally lush and lovely Room with a View.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was used to great effect for the opening scene of Woody Allen’s 1979 Manhattan and in the reveal of Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, complete with fireworks, in Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 The Great Gatsby.

Rhapsody in Blue will enjoy its own wow moment in Jackson. MSO welcomes back guest artist Scott Cuellar in the solo piano spotlight for the Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 — a personal favorite of his — and for Rhapsody in Blue. Gershwin’s jazzy, bluesy, classical masterpiece turns 100 this year, and remains as captivating, as bracing, as delicious as ever.

“It’s like a really big California Cabernet, where everything about it is really bold and everything about it is right in your face and enjoyable in every possible bigness,” Cuellar said, chuckling in delight. “I can’t wait.”

Neither can MSO President and Executive Director Jenny Mann, readily picking Rhapsody in Blue as her favorite in a lineup jam-packed with music to love. “There’s just something about that piece that is forever wonderful, you know?”