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Sunset 6:55

Panama City POPS Orchestra explore the art and artistry of David Bowie

b3d0fc_f5b102c6d5004464a05385773ec83ad8mv2David Robert Jones was born in London on January 8, 1947. He died January 10, 2016 two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his twenty-fifth (and final) album, Blackstar. Better known to the world as David Bowie, he changed artistic personas – notably Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom and the Thin White Duke – even more frequently than he changed his name. Along the way he bent the rules on gender identity decades before doing so became an acceptable part of everyday conversation.

He also bent the musical rules, continuously pushing popular music beyond its frontier boundaries, and in doing so became a highly influential artistic trailblazer (for example, he almost singlehandedly invented the Glam Rock genre). Despite the fluidity of his musical approach, he consistently infused his music with a level of sophistication and intellectual vigor otherwise too frequently lacking in pop music, always raising the bar for a musical genre constantly in danger of becoming frivolously banal and predictably imitative. His songwriting throughout decades displayed deeply introspective and philosophical expressions of a lifetime spent wrangling with his own spirituality, political evolution, sexuality and social attitudes (including towards race).

But his art extended well beyond the musical stage and recording studio as he brilliantly transferred his innate theatrical knack to acting roles both in front of the camera (most famously as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth) and in live theater, often playing mysterious villains, outcasts or, occasionally, himself in cameo appearances. He was also a critically acclaimed painter, focusing primarily on the human form (including a series of self-portraits) rendered in usually grotesque, boldly pigmented neoexpressionist daubs and swirls. He was also an obsessive collector of contemporary masters with a collection valued at over $12 million at the time of his death.

Not enough water has passed under the bridge to take a fully critical assessment of his cultural contribution, but it seems fair to venture a rash judgment by claiming he was the William Blake for our age. Iconoclastic, esoteric – seemingly perched, like his famous character in “Space Oddity,” miles above planet Earth, a perspective from which he was able to observe, yet still not fully rationalize, the quotidian comings-and-goings of his fellow mortals.

On January 8, the eve of the 70th birthday of this artistic genius, Panama City POPS Orchestra will present a season extra, “The Music of David Bowie.” Under the baton of Richard Carsey, the POPS will perform a musical tribute of David Bowie’s repertoire scored by the critically acclaimed Windborne Production Company, which has produced similar tributes to such iconic rock legends as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, The Doors, Queen, The Rolling Stones, U2, Journey and Michael Jackson.

The POPs will be joined at the Marina Civic Center at 7:30 by vocalist Brody Dolyniuk along with a full rock orchestra as they guide the audience on a musical odyssey spanning Bowie’s entire career, performing hits such as “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Rebel Rebel,” “China Girl” and “Under Pressure.” Tickets for what promises to be an unforgettable night start at $19.50 and are available online by visiting www.panamacitypops.org.