To slightly paraphrase 1980s pop diva Cyndi Lauper, sometimes a girl (or boy) just wants — or needs — to have fun, let their hair down and listen to an evening of light classics with a few guilty pleasures thrown in for good measure.

To slightly paraphrase 1980s pop diva Cyndi Lauper, sometimes a girl (or boy) just wants — or needs — to have fun, let their hair down and listen to an evening of light classics with a few guilty pleasures thrown in for good measure.

Fortunately, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra delivered on all counts Friday night with its latest pops concert, Tribute to the Boston Pops, paying homage to the legendary American orchestra as well as offering its own nostalgic trip down memory lane.

The livestreamed program featuring 16 ear-pleasers truly did offer that proverbial "something for everyone,’ with WSO associate conductor Julian Pellicano setting up each piece with historical lore and fun factoids. Hearing how Boston Pops kingpin, Arthur Fiedler who led the iconic American orchestra between 1930-79, and "Prince of Pops," former WSO pops maestro Erich Kunzel once stood on our own illustrious podium in bygone years only underscored the WSO’s place in North American cultural life during the mid-20th century; although this writer will always hold a wistful place in her heart for Kunzel’s eventual successor, Jeff Tyzik, for his smart orchestral arrangements and always natty, sartorial presence.

And what joy to see 40 musicians onstage, though still masked and physically distanced, after public health regulations were eased earlier this month. We haven’t heard more than 25 players, and usually far fewer than that since early October, and then only once before that in March 2019, with the WSO’s pandemic-friendly, individual "cohorts" of winds, brass and string players, as well as percussion all happily playing together again.

Several highlights included Rossini’s "Overture to The Barber of Seville," forever evoking that "wascally wabbit," a.k.a. Bugs Bunny’s comically brilliant "The Rabbit of Seville," and three excerpts from Bizet’s perennially popular opera, Carmen brought to life with passion and fire.

We also heard Nino Rota’s lushly romantic "Love theme from Romeo and Juliet," as well as satisfying arrangements of Richard Rodgers’ "Waltz from Carousel," and Debussy’s shimmering "Claire de Lune," highlighting principal harpist Richard Turner’s sensitive artistry.

In the wake of St. Patrick's Day, things heated up with "Music from Lord of the Dance" that saw the violins morphing into high-spirited fiddlers, contrasted by Granados’ more sinewy "Intermezzo from Goyescas," that could have ebbed and flowed more.

And then there were those guilty pleasures, that have fuelled plenty of pops shows around the globe as well as on this stage; unapologetic, highly entertaining novelty pieces that one doesn’t readily admit to really liking in rarefied, polite company.

First, of course, is Leroy Anderson’s immortal and sweetly innocent "The Typewriter," featuring, in this case, a loaner of a 1950s vintage Remington Super-Riter, now appearing a curious relic from the past. Bravo to the ever-versatile Pellicano, first quipping that there’s "no delete" if he made a mistake during his auspicious typewriter debut; clanging its carriage bell like there’s no tomorrow while ferociously clacking its keys in rhythmic time with the orchestra.

Kudos also to the WSO’s crackerjack trumpet section, with Chris Fensom, Paul Jeffrey and Isaac Pulford tossing off their double-tongued licks with military precision during "Bugler’s Holiday," despite playing through muffling bell covers. You also know any piece titled "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" is going to be fun — and so it was, with the strings in full bore pizzicato mode, while Johann Strauss Jr.’s "Roses from the South" offered a lovely, lilting final grace note to the feel-good program.

The next WSO concert — another pops — in this whack-a-mole season of COVID-19 isn’t until April 17 and it’s anybody’s guess how many musicians we’ll see onstage next time. Until then, the eye-popping sight and more fulsome sound of hearing 40 out of the full slate of 67 WSO players together again is worth the price of admission alone; a harbinger of hope for better days ahead that became the real pleasure of the night.

The concert will be available on demand through Friday, March 26th. For tickets or further information, visit wso.ca/

holly.harris@shaw