Press Release • March 1, 2016

The Philly POPS announced its 2016/17 concert season today along with a host of new endeavors and updates.

The POPS made the following announcements at the historic Clef Club on Broad Street, a Philadelphia jazz institution. The event featured remarks by POPS CEO and President Frank Giordano, POPS Music Director Michael Krajewski, City Representative Sheila Hess, Director of Music Education for the School District of Philadelphia Frank Machos and performances by singer/pianist Tony DeSare, a POPS jazz combo (Matt Gallagher on trumpet, Ron Kerber on alto sax, Tom Lawton on piano, Steve Beskrone on bass and Joe Nero on drums), and GAMP concert choir junior Raquel Mollineau.

Subscriptions for the new season go on sale at noon today, March 1.

Michael Krajewski signs on as Philly POPS Music Director with three year contract

“The Philly POPS is in the midst of a spectacular 2015/16 season and no small part of the credit for that success goes to Michael,” said Frank Giordano, Philly POPS CEO and President. “We’ve seen his range, his flexibility and his ability to compel and connect with audiences. The POPS has never sounded better. We’re thrilled to announce three more years!”

In 2015 alone, the POPS has played for huge crowds on July 3rd at Independence Hall, July 4th in Wildwood, at the Pope’s speech on immigration at the World Council of Families, and with internationally celebrated singer Andrea Bocelli. In addition, the POPS has hosted record-breaking concerts in a wide variety of music – from Sinatra to Carole King – and sold out nine of 10 performances of its Christmas shows.

“I’m inspired by the musicians of the Philly POPS. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do and what we can bring to Philadelphia. I‘m thrilled about this opportunity,” said POPS Music Director Michael Krajewski.

2016/17 Season Announcement

The POPS will swing through time during the 2016/2017 season, visiting every decade since the 1940s for its 38th season.

“Jazzers Ella and Louis light up the 40s, it’s Elvis mania in the 50s and the British Invasion Beatles in the 60s,” Giordano said. “The hit parade continues with the Eagles, Journey and Fleetwood Mac in the 70s and 80s. Broadway’s biggest blockbusters bring the season home with Les Misérables and Phantom, defying gravity all the way through to the new millennium when Wicked is an instant smash.”

ELVIS: The King’s Songbook
October 21-23, 2016: Break out your blue suede shoes because the world premiere of ELVIS: The King’s Songbook kicks off the new season. The POPS will reinterpret the King’s revolutionary sound, led by Dave Bennett on vocals with Allison Blackwell (a Philadelphia-native who recently brought down the house during her performance of Natural Woman in the POPS Carole King show) through smash hits and ballads, including Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock and Can’t Help Falling in Love.

“I’ve never found an Elvis program out there that I loved, so I put together a new show myself,” said Michael Krajewski, Music Director of the Philly POPS. “Dave really loves the music of the 50s and 60s. He’s able to perform Elvis in a very genuine way.”

A Philly POPS Christmas
December 2-18, 2016: Popular POPS guest artist Tony DeSare returns to the Kimmel Center for ten performances of A Philly POPS Christmas that will also feature the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, the POPS Festival Chorus and organist Peter Richard Conte. The POPS sold out virtually every Christmas concert in 2015.

“With the fantastic musical performers that we have, our audiences will hear the traditional carols and Christmas songs that they expect in new and glorious ways,” Krajewski said.

Sgt. Pepper Celebration
February 3-5, 2017: Acclaimed Beatles tribute band Classical Mystery Tour joins the Philly POPS for a Sgt. Pepper Celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Along with classics from the album – including Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds, With a Little Help From My Friends and When I’m 64 — expect other timeless “Fab Four” hits such as Yesterday and Hey Jude.

“The Beatles never performed many of their songs live in the way that they recorded them because they had extra sound effects and instruments in the studio, but with a full orchestra, we can recreate these timeless songs in the concert hall,” Krajewski said. “Beatles aficionados are blown away hearing an orchestra like ours perform this music.”

Blockbuster Broadway with David Charles Abell
February 24-26, 2017: David Charles Abell is back in his hometown of Philadelphia with Broadway stars Hugh Panaro, Alli Mauzey and Rachel York! The internationally celebrated conductor who has wowed POPS audiences during Christmas Spectacular for the past three seasons brings the best of modern Broadway shows to the POPS stage. On deck: showstoppers from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (with Panaro, the Philadelphia-native who starred in the title role on Broadway), Les Misérables, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and Wicked (with Mauzey who played Glinda on Broadway).

“David Charles Abell is an expert conductor of opera and theater productions,” Krajewski said. “The Blockbuster Broadway show will give the POPS audience a chance to see him in the role that has him conducting shows all around the world.”

“Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Mamma Mia! — these are the great Broadway musicals of our time,” said guest conductor David Charles Abell. “Here’s your chance to experience songs from them, and many more, with the full power of the Philly POPS orchestra and three fabulous soloists who have all starred on Broadway. I’ve conducted music from these shows all over the worlds and can promise that you’ll have a spectacular time!”

Ella, Louis & All That Jazz with Byron Stripling
March 31-April 2, 2017: “The First Lady of Song” would have been 100 years old in 2017. The POPS will celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s musical legacy with her frequent collaborator Louis Armstrong in a swinging lineup of their biggest solo and combined hits. Master jazz trumpeter Byron Stripling and R&B sensation Marva Hicks join the POPS to cover chart-toppers like It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), Sweet Georgia Brown, A Tisket A Tasket, What a Wonderful World, and many more.

“Ella and Louis’ songs were magical – they performed them so skillfully and with such expression that the music is still relevant today,” Krajewski said. “Ever since I’ve known Byron, I’ve wanted to bring him to Philadelphia. He’s a great musician with a wonderful personality, a great sense of humor and is an all-around entertainer. That’s what the POPS is all about. He’s a perfect match for us.”

POPS ROCKS: Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Journey
May 5-7, 2017: You’ve never heard Hotel California until you hear 70 musicians playing it live. Under the new banner of POPS ROCKS, the orchestra recreates the music of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Journey with guest artists Lori Wilshire, Micah Wilshire and Shem von Schroeck. Take it Easy and get ready to sing along to Don’t Stop Believin’, Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow), Landslide, Go Your Own Way and Desperado.

“The music of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Journey is particularly suited for great three part harmony – Micah, Lori and Shem will emphasize those harmonies,” Krajewski said. “The orchestra adds new colors to the music and makes the songs dynamic in a fresh way. They sound even better than we remember them.”

For the second year in a row, the Philly POPS will present the School District of Philadelphia’s All-City Jazz Festival. The POPS in Schools program is an ongoing supplemental music program which enhances music education for PSD students involved in the District’s jazz program. The festival, scheduled for 3pm on April 30 at Temple Performing Arts Center, showcases the jazz ensembles of ten participating schools and the All-City Jazz Orchestra – the audition-only ensemble composed of the most talented jazz students in the district. The All-City Jazz Orchestra will be led by Terell Stafford, Director of Jazz Studies at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.

The Philly POPS BIG Band

The POPS has created a BIG Band that will perform throughout the Philadelphia region. Composed of 18-20 musicians – five saxophones, five trumpets, four trombones, a drum set, a piano, a guitar, and bass – the BIG Band will play swing, ragtime and jazz in the style of the Count Basie Orchestra and Harry James Band while expanding its repertoire into all kinds of popular music from Latin to funk and rock. The Philly POPS BIG Band members were chosen for their passion for popular music. Each also a teaching artist, adept at instructing the next generation of musicians.

“We have had such an incredible response at the POPS this season when we’ve gone back to the roots of jazz and swing that we thought the moment was right,” said Matt Gallagher, POPS principal trumpet player and BIG Band leader. “This is an amazing opportunity to bring something different out of the concert hall to a variety of venues. I can’t wait to get started!”

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 37th season, the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania serves a consistently growing audience of over 100,000 annually. Music Director Michael Krajewski and the 65-peice 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.

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 – 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.