The Charlotte Symphony will be returning to Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall this summer for its annual Summer Pops, a family-friendly Charlotte concert series that has been around since the early 1980s.

And when the series kicks off June 4, old Summer Pops-goers will notice that there have been some changes to this summer’s events.

“We found that patrons wanted more flexibility and ease with their ticket purchase and overall experience,” said Virginia Brown, Director of Communications for the Charlotte Symphony. “We try to listen to the public and deliver when we can.”

So, here are 5 things you should know about Summer Pops 2017.

(1) Premium seating club tickets are now available.

This new VIP section will include a reserved tent at the top of the lawn to keep attendees shaded from the summer’s beating sun, reserved parking close to Symphony Park and a chef-curated picnic basket containing delicacies from Reid’s Fine Foods (think cheese and charcuterie platter, deviled eggs, fresh fruit, sweets, a bottle of wine and more).

Reid’s SouthPark location will also offer special Summer Pops fare in the store and for pre-order purchase.

Purchase your premium seating club ticket 4-concert series package here for $272, or individual concert premium seating here for $68.

Not interested in premium seating club but want a Reid’s picnic basket? It’s $60 — call 704-377-7686 to reserve.

(2) You can save money with advance tickets.

Starting this year, you can save money by purchasing your individual tickets in advance. You will save $2 per ticket, and tickets purchased 10 days or more in advance will be mailed to you at home. By getting your tickets in advance, you will spend $12 for an adult ticket, $5 for a youth ticket (ages 13-18) and children ages 12 and under get in for free, but still must present a ticket. Get yours here.

(3) You can get a GoPass.

This ticket package will offer Summer Pops attendees the most flexibility. You can save 25 percent off of what you would pay at the gate at regular price. Ticket packages are offered in groups of four, six or eight and are valid across the entire concert series.

For example, if you purchase the package of four passes, and you and three other friends want to all attend the same performance, you can use all four passes at once. Or, if you choose to spread out your pass usage, you can do that, too. Get your GoPass tickets here.

(4) You’ll spot new faces on stage.

Don’t be surprised when you don’t see Albert-George Schram conducting on stage. Although Schram will kick off and close out the series, there will be two new guest conductors at this year’s Summer Pops.

Keitaro Harada will lead at the June 11 performance, and Charlotte Symphony assistant conductor Christoper James Lees will be present at the June 18 and June 25 performances.

(5) You’re encouraged to come early for the prelude.

Although this is not a change from last year’s Summer Pops, those attending the concert series are encouraged to come at 7 p.m. for a prelude concert before the main performance begins at 8:15 p.m.

For the June 4 performance, Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, which is performing this summer at Carnegie Hall, will perform the 7 p.m. prelude.

Bonus: Charlotte Symphony has a community initiative where the musicians travel all over the city.

“We don’t want people to have to come to us all the time, so we are coming to the community,” Brown said.

Go here for a list of the upcoming community concerts, or check out the Charlotte Symphony’s ‘In the community’s’ engagement page to find out where musicians regularly perform around Charlotte.

Check out this summer’s Summer Pops schedule here.

Photos: charlottesymphony.org, Virginia Brown

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