Press Release • February 15, 2018

Philadelphia, PA (February 14, 2018) — The Philly POPS announced its 40th Anniversary 2018-19 concert season today. Subscriptions for this celebratory 40th Anniversary Season go on sale at 10 a.m.

Moe Septee founded the POPS in November 1979 with a concert at the Academy of Music. Celebrated jazz pianist Peter Nero conducted the POPS from 1979 until 2013.

“The 2018-2019 season marks 40 years since the POPS began,” said Frank Giordano, CEO and President of The Philly POPS. “We’re dedicating this milestone season to Philadelphia musicians, moments from our 40-year history, and the magical pop music that created a shared experience for us all during those wonderful years!”

To celebrate the organization’s 40th Anniversary, the POPS will:

  • Perform a song or arrangement of a popular piece of music that has a legacy tie-in to the POPS at each concert;
  • Continue and increase its ongoing effort to showcase artists and music with Philly roots;
  • Ask each guest artist to honor our shared history with American popular music by performing songs with resonance to this year-long celebration of pop.

“We’ve paid a lot of attention to Philadelphia this season — and its rich history of talent and music across a variety of genres,” said Michael Krajewski, Music Director of The Philly POPS.

Philadelphia-centric highlights from the season include:

  • Hamilton’s Leslie Odom, Jr. a Grammy and Tony winner, who grew up in East Oak Lane and attended two School District of Philadelphia schools, Masterman and CAPA.
  • Terell Stafford, Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies in the Boyer College of Music at Temple and Director of the School District’s All-City Jazz Festival (which is presented by the POPS).
  • Principal Guest Conductor David Charles Abell, who lived in Philadelphia and attended Germantown Friends School.
  • Tributes to Philadelphia artists The Hooters, Robert Hazard, the A’s, and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers during POPS Rocks The 80s.
  • A show dedicated to American Bandstand, a Philadelphia institution for over a decade.

The POPS will kick off the season with a 40th Anniversary-themed Sixth Annual POPS Ball on September 13, 2018 during which guest artist Tony DeSare will play “Rhapsody in Blue” as the doors open to a glamorous evening of dancing to the full orchestra.

2018-19 Season:

Leslie Odom, Jr.
Celebrating the POPS 40th Anniversary

September 28-30, 2018
Michael Krajewski, conductor featuring Leslie Odom, Jr., vocalist

Leslie Odom, Jr. rocketed to stardom with his Grammy and Tony-award winning portrayal of Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Since then, he’s released two albums. His elegant interpretation of the classics of the American Songbook make him the perfect performer to kick off the POPS 40th Anniversary Celebration. He’s said that he wants to make the kind of music Nat King Cole would make today — and he’ll do that with us. The Philly POPS backs him up in a show that spans from “Autumn Leaves” to “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa” right on up to tunes from that Broadway show that made him famous. He pays homage to his Broadway debut in Rent with a POPS orchestra-centric, all-strings version of “Without You”, also featuring his guitarist, Steven Walker.

STORM LARGE: A Crazy Kind of Love
November 9-11, 2018
Michael Krajewski, conductor featuring Storm Large, vocalist

A mesmerizing six-foot blonde, Storm Large is a musician, actor, playwright, author, and most famous as an unforgettable interpreter of American popular music. She sold out the Kennedy Center with her debut as guest vocalist for the electric band Pink Martini and The New York Times called her “sensational” when she performed at Carnegie Hall in 2013. “I‘ve always liked the whole idea of the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra, all those kinds of very cool atmospherics,” she has said. Storm’s Crazy Kind of Love set features tunes from “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” through “Somebody to Love” and “Forever Young”. Her sizzling interpretations of POPS classics form the perfect counterpoint to Leslie Odom, Jr.’s more mellow revue of American popular music.

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season!
December 1-22, 2018
Todd Ellison, conductor featuring Mandy Gonzalez, vocalist

Philadelphia’s incredible holiday tradition is back! Broadway legend Todd Ellison takes the baton for an all-new repertoire of your favorite holiday classics. Fresh from his Tony-nominated An American in Paris stint, Ellison brings his trademark sophistication and style to the POPS. This holiday season features Hamilton’s Mandy Gonzalez, who rocked Philly’s Independence Week 2017 with moments from her Broadway hit In the Heights and Frozen and stunned the Parkway with her stirring “This Land is Your Land”. The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, the award-winning African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and the Philadelphia Boys Choir add cheer, spirit, and splendor to the over 300-performer presentation. Presented by KeyBank.

JAZZED! The Philly POPS BIG Band with Terrell Stafford
January 18-20, 2019
Terell Stafford, trumpet featuring Matt Gallagher, leader, The Philly POPS BIG Band

Philadelphia has a storied history with America’s musical art form: Jazz. This program visits the past — the sounds of North, South, and West Philly, and the music of John Coltrane, Stanley Clarke, and especially Philly-born Billie Holiday. This new January series will celebrate a particular kind of Philly sound — the jazz of the ’40s and ’50s with Temple University’s internationally-acclaimed jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford. Terell conducts the All-City Jazz Orchestra honor band as part the School District’s All-City Jazz Festival that’s presented by the POPS, leads the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and serves as Temple’s Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies.

POPS ROCKS: The ‘80s
February 1-3, 2019
Stuart Chafetz, conductor featuring Nicole Parker, vocalist, Aaron Finley, vocalist

When Stuart Chafetz conducted his “Riffer Madness” last season, the standing ovation audience wanted much more of the huge, new rock ‘n’ roll band that he had just created with The Philly POPS. He’s back with his cover of the ’80s — the decade that saw an explosion of new music and the advent of MTV! Featuring music by Michael Jackson, George Michael, Huey Lewis & The News, Blondie, and Cyndi Lauper, the set list includes Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” and this program does just that. “Wake Me Up Before You Go”, a spectacular King of POP medley, “Call Me”, and “True Colors” are sure to leave us all “Addicted to Love!” Singer, TV star, and comedian Nicole Parker of Wicked fame joins Broadway’s Aaron Finley as featured vocalists.

Uptown Nights with Byron Stripling
March 1-3, 2019
Byron Stripling, conductor and trumpet featuring Carmen Bradford, vocalist, Ted Louis Levy, tap

Byron Stripling, who sold out his memorable Ella, Louis & All That Jazz show in 2017, is heralded as a “powerhouse trumpeter gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger.” Uptown Nights with Byron Stripling is something new for the POPS — he’ll explore a magical world of song and dance popularized in the clubs of the ’40s and ’50s. Inspired by Harlem’s famed musical hot spots like The Cotton Club and The Savoy, this swingin’ night of musical sensations focuses on Harlem’s heyday — a time when Duke Ellington’s orchestra was the house band, and Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ethel Waters showcased the classics! Vocalist Carmen Bradford and tap dancer Ted Louis Levy round out the package.

Cole Porter’s Broadway: Too Darn Hot with David Charles Abell
April 12-14, 2019
David Charles Abell, conductor featuring Catherine Russell, vocalist, Marin Mazzie, vocalist, Jason Danieley, vocalist

Recently appointed POPS Principal Guest Conductor David Charles Abell has long combined his Philly roots with an international flair. Cole Porter, one of the best American songwriters, owns a legacy that continues to charm Broadway audiences today. Abell’s tribute is an original program of Porter’s best, sung by Broadway’s Golden Couple: Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley, with jazz and blues standout Catherine Russell. “Too Darn Hot”, “Night and Day”, and “Easy to Love” are certain to deliver the infectious Porter magic with this modern twist.

American Bandstand: A Philadelphia Story
May 3-5, 2019
Michael Krajewski, conductor featuring The Doo Wop Project, vocals

American Bandstand, produced at 4548 Market Street in West Philadelphia from 1952-1964, set the tone for the first generation of teenagers. Michael Krajewski’s original program celebrates the early years of American Bandstand before its move to LA. The program includes “At the Hop”, “The Twist”, and “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”. It will also feature a tribute to Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian — and that moment in time when Philly was the POP center of the world. The Doo Wop Project performs these hits from the Philly years with their unparalleled authenticity of sound and vocal excellence.

About The Philly POPS
The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert presentations and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.

Now in its 39th season, the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania serves a consistently growing audience of over 150,000 annually. Music Director Michael Krajewski and the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra keeps listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditions of music up through today’s chart toppers. The Philly POPS BIG Band, an 18-20 piece ensemble performing a rock and rhythm and blues repertoire , premiered in 2017 to enthusiastic response at the July 4 Welcome America Concert on the Parkway.

Outside the concert hall, Salute Series performances – including POPS on Independence on July 3 and the I’ll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert – celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays; POPS in Schools enhances music education for Philadelphia School District students; and POPS Outside brings POPS music to local communities.

The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.