A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season! | The Philly Pops
 

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season!

David Charles Abell, Conductor

Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for Performing Arts

300 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
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Dec 4-18, 2021
See All Dates & Times
Sat, Dec 4, 2021
3 PM
3 PM
Wed, Dec 8, 2021
8 PM
8 PM
Fri, Dec 10, 2021
3 PM
3 PM
Sat, Dec 11, 2021
3 PM
3 PM
Wed, Dec 15, 2021
8 PM
8 PM
Fri, Dec 17, 2021
3 PM
3 PM
Sat, Dec 18, 2021
3 PM
3 PM
Featuring

Scarlett Strallen, vocalist

Hugh Panaro, vocalist

Charlie Albright, guest artist

The Philly POPS Festival Chorus

The Philadelphia Boys Choir

The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir

All the glitter and warmth of Philly’s favorite holiday tradition is back for another dazzling season! It’s Philly’s favorite holiday tradition — this year featuring Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell, West End & Broadway star Scarlett Strallen, and Philadelphia native and Broadway legend Hugh Panaro! The POPS is back for another unforgettable holiday celebration! Also featured in this year’s show will be the young virtuoso pianist Charlie Albright, whose excitable, energetic style is sure to wow. 

This all-new original program will feature the perennial POPS favorites: The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and The Philadelphia Boys Choir for another can’t-miss holiday extravaganza.

Guest Artists

David Charles Abell, Music Director & Principal Conductor

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Born in North Carolina, Music Director & Principal Conductor David Charles Abell grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, attending Germantown Friends School through the sixth grade. A gifted musician from a young age, his study of trumpet, viola, piano, and composition eventually led to a concentration on conducting. He attended Yale University, the Juilliard School, and the Conservatoire Américain in France, where he studied under Nadia Boulanger. At age 13, David met Leonard Bernstein while singing in the world premiere of Bernstein’s Mass in Washington, D.C. Ten years later, David assisted his teacher John Mauceri in the tenth anniversary production of Mass, leading to a close association with Bernstein—as both a conducting student and as an editor of Bernstein’s music.   

David made his debut with The Philly POPS in 2013’s Christmas Spectacular, returning again in 2014 and 2015. He has since conducted Blockbuster Broadway in 2017, Lenny’s Revolution in 2018, and will lead 2019’s A Philly POPS Christmas and 2020’s Hammerstein: The Song Is You! In addition to his work with The Philly POPS, David conducts concerts, opera, and theatre performances around the world. He has performed with such distinguished artists as Dame Judi Dench ,Dame Emma Thompson, Heather Headley, Idina Menzel, Petula Clark, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Matthew Morrison. He has conducted many prominent orchestras, including the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Atlanta and Cincinnati Symphonies, and Boston Pops.

David is widely known to TV audiences for the 10thand 25th anniversary Les Misérables concerts, both of which have become PBS fund-raising perennials. In the UK, he has performed many times on television, most notably as conductor of the immensely successful Sondheim 80th birthday Prom and as the conductor for four years of the Olivier Awards, the UK’s equivalent to the Tony Awards. Recently, he made his Zurich Opera debut with Sweeney Todd, starring Sir Bryn Terfel.

David currently lives in London.

Scarlett Strallen, Featured Artist

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Scarlett Strallen has starred in productions on Broadway, London’s West End, and is a frequent soloist on the concert stage. She is currently starring on Broadway as Gwendolyn in Travesties and has appeared in the title role of Mary Poppins, a role she also played in the West End and as Sibella Hallward in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Additional theater credits include Mabel in Pirates of Penzance at Barrington Stage Company, Lady Macduff in Macbeth at the Armory in New York, Cunegonde in Candide at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Cassie in A Chorus Line at The London Palladium, Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain at Chichester Festival Theatre and The Palace Theatre London (Olivier Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical), Amalia in She Loves Me at the Chocolate Factory, and Clara in Passion at Donmar Warehouse. Prior to this she played Marian in The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre and at the Royal Shakespeare Company playing Anne Page in Merry Wives of Windsor. Her performance of Josephine at Regents Park Open Air Theatre in HMS Pinafore won her an Olivier nomination. Other productions at Regents Park include Cymbeline and Twelfth Night, Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium), and original casts of Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward), The Witches of Eastwick (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) and Peggy Sue Got Married (Shaftesbury). In 2014, Scarlett received the ‘Whatsonstage’ awards for best actress in a musical for A Chorus Line at the London Palladium and Candide at the Menier. A frequent soloist with orchestras around the world, Scarlett made her German debut at the Philharmonie in Berlin with the John Wilson Orchestra in “A Celebration of the MGM Film Musicals”. Recent concerts include "Disney on Broadway" at the Royal Albert Hall, “I Love Musicals” arena tour of Sweden with Peter Joback, “Cole Porter in Hollywood” UK tour with the John Wilson Orchestra, a broadcast on Sky television from the Royal Albert Hall in London and “Bernstein Stage and Screen” at the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra which was broadcast on BBC television. Scarlett has recorded with Simon Keenleyside “Something’s Gotta Give” for Chandos conducted by David Charles Abell. Film and television credits include: Kevin Spacey's movie Beyond The Sea, the title role in the BBC production of Mary Poppins celebrating HM Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday.

Hugh Panaro

Hugh Panaro, vocalist

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Hugh Panaro is perhaps best known for having played the coveted role of the Phantom in Broadway's The Phantom of the Operaover 2,000 times, including the 25th Anniversary production. In fact, Hugh is one of the few actors to be cast by Harold Prince as both The Phantom and Raoul in the show's Broadway production and is currently starring as the titular role in the immersive Off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd.Hugh made his Broadway debut in the original production of Les Misérablesas Marius, the role he originated in the First National Company. He also created the roles of Buddy in the original Side Show (Sony cast recording); Julian Craster in Jule Styne's last musical, The Red Shoes;and the title role in the American premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's Martin Guerre. Hugh was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance in the title role of Elton John's Lestat, based on Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. He made his West End debut in the original London company of Harold Prince's Show Boat as Gaylord Ravenal, the role he previously played in the Broadway and Toronto productions.At the prestigious 5thAvenue Theater in Seattle, Hugh played George Seurat in Sam Buntrock's Tony Award-winning production of Sunday in the Park with George, and Robert in Stephen Sondheim's Company.Hugh's performance as Jean Valjean in the Walnut Street Theater's production of Les Misérables earned him the prestigious Barrymore Award, for which he was again nominated after a turn as Fagin in Oliver! In 2012,Hugh was honored with the Edwin Forrest Award for his long-term contribution to the theater. An active concert artist, Panaro has performed with numerous symphony orchestras including Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, SeattleUtah Symphonies, and the London Sinfonietta, among many others. He had the privilege of performing in the world premiere of Penderecki’s Te Deumat Carnegie Hall and was a guest soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. His recordings include Jerome Kern Treasury, the original cast recording of Side Show, Tap Your Troubles Away(Herman), The Centennial(Weil), and Life On The Wicked Stage(Kern). His first solo CD, recorded with Sony/BMG, was released in the summer of 2007. In addition, he toured throughout Europe with the legendary Barbra Streisand. A native of Philadelphia, Panaro graduated from Temple University and was awarded the Boyer College of Music Certificate of Honor.

Charlie Albright

Charlie Albright, Piano

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Hailed as “among the most gifted musicians of his generation” with a “dazzling natural keyboard affinity” who “made quite an impression” by the Washington Post, American pianist/composer/improviser Charlie Albright has been praised for his “jaw-dropping technique and virtuosity meshed with a distinctive musicality” by The New York Times, and his “extravagance that had showmanship but never felt cheap” with his “ease and smoothness that refuses to airbrush the music, but animates it from within” by the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and Gilmore Young Artist Award, Albright won the Ruhr Klavier Festival Young Artist Award presented by Marc-André Hamelin (Germany) and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.  In addition to performing, Albright is sought after as a speaker, masterclass instructor, teacher, and competition judge.  His debut commercial recording, Vivace, has sold thousands of copies worldwide and the first of a 3-part Schubert Series of live, all-Schubert recordings was released in 2017. Charlie Albright breaks the "classical" rules of music by connecting with audiences like no other. Through his music, speaking, and unique improvisations that bring music to life, he crosses all genres...and makes it fun. 

Albright regularly appears at major concert halls, festivals, and with artists of all genres worldwide.  In 2019, he was the guest artist at the Isaac Stern Auditorium main stage of Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Leon Botstein, and made his return appearances at the 2019 Bergen International Festival in Norway, where he performed a sold-out solo recital and was given the honor of performing the festival’s traditional yearly concert of the Grieg Piano Concerto at Grieg Concert Hall with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. 

He is a frequently returning guest artist with such orchestras as the BBC Concert Orchestra (14-concert tour with Maestro Keith Lockhart, chosen as one of the “Best of the BBC 2015”); the Alabama, Baltimore, Boston Pops, Buffalo, California, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Edmonton (Canada), Des Moines, Fort Smith, Houston, Kymi Sinfonietta (Finland), Lansing, Mobile, National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing, China), Omaha, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, Victoria (Canada), and West Michigan Symphony Orchestras.  He has performed worldwide, including at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.); Symphony Hall (Boston); the Salle Cortot (Paris, France); the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Miami); the Kumho Art Hall (Seoul, South Korea); the NCPA (Beijing); and Alice Tully Hall (Mostly Mozart Festival, New York).   

Albright regularly collaborates with artists from all genres, including vocalist/conductor Bobby McFerrin and violinist Joshua Bell.  He has collaborated five times with revered cellist Yo-Yo Ma: at the honorary degree ceremony at Harvard University for Senator Ted Kennedy; at a 10th anniversary remembrance of 9/11; at the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison; at the Aspen Institute’s Citizen Artistry conference in New York; and with the Silk Road Project. 

Albright’s compositions and improvisations have been likened to “the great Romantic-era composer-pianists” by Classical Source and have been praised as “thrilling” by the DC Metro Theatre Arts.  The Philadelphia Inquirer raved that he “brought the art of classical-music improvisation to a new level.” 

A firm believer in education, Albright founded the Charlie Albright Scholarship and Charlie Albright Piano in collaboration with the Centralia College Foundation in his hometown. The Scholarship provides financial aid to music students, and money was raised to purchase and maintain a new 9-foot Steinway Piano for the college’s Corbet Hall. 

Winner of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and named one of the “15 Most Interesting Seniors,” Albright was also named Artist-in-Residence for Harvard University’s Leverett House, a position last filled by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Albright’s numerous awards include First Prize in both Solo and Ensemble categories at the 2006 New York National Piano Competition; First Prize and all other awards offered at the 2006 Eastman International Piano Competition; Third Prize at the 2007 Hilton Head International Piano Competition; Semi-Finalist Award and Best Performance of a Work by Liszt in Stage I at the 2008 Sydney International Piano Competition; and the Vendome Virtuoso Prize and the Elizabeth Leonskaya Special Award at the 2009 Vendome Prize International Piano Competition. 

Born in Centralia, Washington, Albright began piano lessons at the age of 3. He studied with Nancy Adsit and earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College while still in high school. He was the first classical pianist in the Harvard College/New England Conservatory 5-Year AB/MM Joint Program, completing a Bachelor’s Degree as an Economics major and Pre-Med student at Harvard, and a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance at NEC, having studied with Wha-Kyung Byun. He graduated with the prestigious Artist Diploma (A.D.) from The Juilliard School, having studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky.  Albright is an official Steinway Artist. For the latest information, please visit CharlieAlbright.com and Facebook.com/CharlieAlbrightPianist. 

The Philly POPS Festival Chorus

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The Philly POPS Festival Chorus is a 180-voice ensemble that performs with the Philly POPS under the direction of Jeff Kern, Head of the Vocal Division for University of the Arts.

The Philly POPS Festival Chorus began performing in 2002 and performs with the POPS orchestra during the annual Christmas concert series and Broadway series. The chorus has performed with many professional artists including Faith Prince, Capathia Jenkins, Ashley Brown, Lisa Howard, Lauren Kennedy, Rachel York, Alice Ripley, Ann Hampton Callaway, and The von Trapp Family Children.

The Festival Chorus is an auditioned, volunteer organization composed of singers ranging from high school students to retired professionals.

St. Thomas Gospel Choir

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The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir (STGC) is from the Historic African Episcopal Church of Philadelphia, where the Reverend Canon Martini Shaw is the Rector. The STGC currently consists of 60 spirit-filled, energetic, singers, ministers, and musicians of all ages and backgrounds. The choir’s membership represents more than 10 different area churches.

The STGC shares their music ministry at over 100 services, programs, concerts, and celebrations of all kinds every year. In 2013, STGC was named “The Best Regional Choir” in Verizon’s Music Competition, How Sweet The Sound, and the choir performed to a sold-out audience at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. In 2015, the STGC won “Traditional CD of the Year” and Walt Blocker won “Producer of the Year” at the The Rhythm of Gospel Music Awards held in Memphis. Locally and nationally, the STGC has received numerous awards and recognition, including the PHL LIVE Center Stage competition for “Best in Gospel Music” for which the choir was recognized by the Philadelphia City Council.
The STGC has performed for the installation of the last two Episcopal Church Presiding Bishops (in 2005 for the first female Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, and again in 2015 for the current and first African American Presiding Bishop, Michael B. Curry). Both were historic services of installations held at the Washington National Cathedral.
Over the years, STGC has shared their music at churches, conventions, and gatherings of all kinds. One of the many honors has been singing at the historic and prestigious Thomas A Dorsey’s National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in Washington, D.C., Orlando, and New Orleans. The STGC was also featured at the Chorus America Conference held here in Philadelphia in 2019, as well as regularly singing the National Anthem for the Philadelphia Phillies.

STGC has more than five musical recordings that showcases their various styles and love of all music from original service mass music to soul stirring gospel music. The most recent is Part 1 of their first Holiday Music EP now available.

The STGC regularly performs several genres of music including gospel, classical, Motown, pop favorites, and classics such as Stevie Wonder, U2, Gladys Knight, and Elton John, and will join the POPS in 2020 for its tribute to Aretha Franklin. STGC has appeared in the Lee Daniels movie soundtrack of The Woodsman and the English version of the international cartoon Kikoriki, as well as several plays and other musicals.

The St. Thomas Gospel Choir has performed in San Jose and Limon in Costa Rica and completed an 11-day tour in Rome, Venice, and Florence, Italy in June 2018. The STGC will be singing for the Inauguration Ceremony for the Mayor and City Council this January at The Met Philadelphia and also will be the featured Artist at the May Festival in Cincinnati in 2020 with the Cincinnati Orchestra.

Waltier Blocker is the co-minister of music with his Creative and Performing Arts classmate, Dr. Jay Fluellen, at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia. Walt attended both Westminster Choir College and the University of the Arts and studied church music, opera, and music education. Walt is a classically-trained singer and is a well-known bass soloist, music director, recording producer, song writer, vocal coach, actor, and often writes music with The Philly POPS, for the Washington National Cathedral, national music conventions, and churches and choirs around the country. Waltier also serves on the national board as a consultant for musical changes and addendums for the Episcopal Church. Walt has performed and worked with directors, singers, and musical artists all over the U.S. and Europe. Walt is known for demanding excellence. His passion for music, combined with years of varied experience and knowledge and most of all love of God, brings out the best in everyone with whom he works.
 

The Philadelphia Boys Choir, Guest Choir

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Renowned for its commanding musicianship, intelligence and interpretive abilities, the Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated Philadelphia Boys Choir has cultivated a devoted following worldwide for its highly acclaimed concerts and performances. Established in 1968, achievements include world tours, recordings with internationally renowned artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, major motion picture film scores, television appearances (Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, and The Today Show), and praise from critics and audiences worldwide.  

JEFFREY R. SMITH, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR An alumnus of the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, Smith stepped into the position of Artistic Director in 2004 and has since led the choir on concert tours throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Under his direction, the choir has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pennsylvania Ballet, The Philly POPS, and Opera Philadelphia. Venues have included the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Among the political dignitaries in their audiences have been prime ministers and presidents, including Barack Obama. Smith is a 1999 summa cum laude graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Music in Composition. His original compositions and vocal/instrumental arrangements have been performed by various ensembles throughout the country, including the Toledo Symphony, York Theatre (NYC), Ocean City Pops and, The Philly POPS. As a pianist in much demand, Smith has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, The Philly POPS, and for several shows on and Off-Broadway. He is also assistant conductor for The Philly POPS.