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 3-17, 2022
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Sat, Dec 3, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Sun, Dec 4, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Wed, Dec 7, 2022
8 PM
8 PM
Fri, Dec 9, 2022
8 PM
8 PM
Sat, Dec 10, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Sun, Dec 11, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Wed, Dec 14, 2022
8 PM
8 PM
Fri, Dec 16, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Sat, Dec 17, 2022
3 PM
3 PM
Featuring

David Charles Abell, Music Director and Principal Conductor
Mandy Gonzalez, vocalist
Jordan Donica, vocalist

The Philly POPS Festival Chorus
The Philadelphia Boys Choir 
African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir

Celebrate the season with the POPS! Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez returns for her fourth Christmas with the POPS, joined by Broadway sensation and small-screen heartthrob Jordan Donica!

Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell presents his usual dazzling, unique, and all-new program with over 300 performers, including The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The Philadelphia Boys Choir, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and Santa!

Guest Artists

David Charles Abell, Music Director & Principal Conductor

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Throughout his distinguished career, conductor David Charles Abell has excelled in a wide range of musical genres, from contemporary opera to worldwide TV broadcasts of Les Misérables. He has appeared four times at the BBC Proms and has worked with such distinguished artists as Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Lea Salonga, Idina Menzel, Heather Headley, Petula Clark, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison, Michael Ball, Michael Feinstein and Stephen Hough.

David was appointed Music Director of the Philly POPS a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began. He helped the organization pivot by planning and conducting one of the first US orchestral streaming events in July, 2020. The subsequent Christmas celebration he conducted was broadcast to half a million US servicemen and women by the American Forces Network.

Born in North Carolina, David earned degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School after intensive viola, piano and composition studies. Turning his attention to conducting at the age of fourteen, he went on to study with Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Boulanger.

Recent projects have included a new production of La bohème at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Francesca Zambello’s Porgy and Bess at Atlanta Opera, Barrie Kosky’s Die Zauberflöte at Opera Philadelphia, and Tomer Zvulun’s Eugene Onegin at Hawaii Opera Theatre. He is a regular guest conductor at Cincinnati Opera, where he has led Die Fledermaus and Kevin Puts’ Silent Night among others. In the UK, David made his debut with English National Opera in Sweeney Todd (starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson). subsequently returning for an equally-acclaimed Carousel. He recently conducted his own new critical edition of Kiss Me, Kate for Opera North and the Théâtre du Châtelet.
 

Mandy Gonzalez

Mandy Gonzalez, vocalist

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Mandy Gonzalez possesses one of the most powerful and versatile contemporary voices of our time. Currently starring as Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway juggernaut Hamilton, she is perhaps best known for her emotional portrayal of Nina Rosario in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, In The Heights, a role she originally created Off-Broadway at 37 Arts, and for which she received a Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble. She has starred as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked, blowing the roof off of New York’s Gershwin Theatre each night as she belted out the signature song, “Defying Gravity,” and for which she was honored with a Broadway.com Award for Best Replacement. Other Broadway roles include Princess Amneris in the Elton John and Tim Rice musical, Aida, and Lennon, where she portrayed multiple roles including Beatles icon John Lennon. Mandy made her Broadway debut in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires, starring opposite Michael Crawford.

Mandy received an OBIE Award and overwhelming critical praise for her performance in the Off-Broadway production of Eli’s Comin’, directed by Diane Paulus, and based on the music and lyrics of singer-songwriter Laura Nyro. Television viewers have had the pleasure of seeing Mandy recur as Agent Susan Combs on the hit series “Quantico,” as well as guest appearances on “Doubt,” “White Collar,” “The Good Wife,” among others.

Equally at home on the big and small screen, she has appeared in “Across the Universe,” directed by Julie Taymor, “After,” starring opposite Pablo Schreiber, and “Man on a Ledge” with Sam Worthington. Mandy can be heard as the voice of Mei in Disney’s “Mulan 2,” on recordings of the original Broadway cast album of “In the Heights,” “Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live,” and “The Man Who Would Be King."

A frequent concert soloist, she has performed with symphony orchestras including Cleveland Orchestra, Philly Pops, Naples Philharmonic, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Arkansas, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Youngstown Symphonies She has also started working on her first solo album with plans for a 2017 release. Mandy can currently be seen as the recurring character Lucy Knox on the hit CBS drama, “Madam Secretary.”

Jordan Donica, vocalist

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Jordan Donica most recently starred as Jordan Chase in the CW’s Charmed. He previously guest starred in the award-winning police procedural drama Blue Bloods. Jordan originated the role of Freddy Eynsford-Hill in the Tony-nominated Lincoln Center Theater production of My Fair Lady, and also starred as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the Los Angeles and San Francisco companies of Hamilton.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Jordan made his debut starring as the leading man, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, in the historic Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. He also played Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods at Encores!. In addition to his theater and TV work, Jordan was featured at the Washington National Opera gala at The Kennedy Center, the Pasadena Symphony, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He starred as Lancelot in Lincoln Center Theater’s gala production of Camelot opposite Lin Manuel Miranda. Jordan was also featured at the American Songbook Hall of Fame celebration at the invitation of Michael Feinstein.

Jordan directed a gala performance of the play “Exonerated” at Northwestern University for the Center on Wrongful Convictions, featuring Harry Lennix and Katrina Lenk.

Jordan is a 2016 graduate of Otterbein University, where he graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre Cum Laude. An ambassador for The Innocence Project, family is everything to Jordan, because without the “little village” of women who raised him, he would not be where he is today. “Every day is a gift.”

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.

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. 

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.