Press Release • February 14, 2019

Philadelphia, PA (February 14, 2019) — The Philly POPS announced its TOPS of the POPS 2019-20 season today, February 14, 2019.  

The TOPS of the POPS season gathers the works of some of music’s most-awarded artists and composers to celebrate their contributions to American popular music, all while turning a spotlight on their stellar collection of accolades. Across all categories, this season’s artists have 76 GRAMMYs, 15 Academy Awards, 15 Golden Globes, 9 Tonys and 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  

“In light of the artistic successes of our 40th Anniversary Season, we wanted to up the ante with a season highlighting the best of the best,” said Frank Giordano, CEO and President of The Philly POPS. “That’s how we arrived at this all-star lineup—we chose each show with the people of Philadelphia in mind. We know our audiences will love each and every one of these concerts.” 

This season also marks the inaugural season of the POPS Music Director Todd Ellison. A Broadway legend with an extensive musical pedigree, Todd has appeared previously in 2018’s Best of Broadway, Comcast NBCUniversal Memorial Salute, and most recently, in A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season.  

“It’s an honor to be Music Director of this world-class orchestra,” said Todd Ellison, Music Director of The Philly POPS. “I’ve never conducted an orchestra with as much swing, energy and nuance as the POPS. The Philly POPS is an artistic treasure for the city of Philadelphia, and this extraordinary season helps us connect with the people of Philly by playing their favorite music, freshening its performance and performing it like they’ve never heard it before.”  

In addition to the 2019–2020 Subscription Series, the POPS will also continue building its efforts outside of the concert hall—namely through The Salute Series and POPS in Schools programs, which further the POPS’ commitment to the City of Philadelphia and its people.  

The Comcast NBCUniversal Salute Series honors those who commit to a life of service through free concerts on national holidays of American tradition. The 2019 Comcast NBCUniversal Salute Series will feature Memorial Salute at the Mann Center, POPS on Independence on July 3, POPS at the Celebration of Freedom and POPS on the Parkway on July 4 and I’ll Be Home For Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders on December 6. 

The POPS in Schools program enters its fourth year, representing a new milestone in the landmark program that provides innovative supplemental music programs to schools in the School District of Philadelphia. Currently, the POPS provides instruction in 15 schools—four elementary schools and 11 high schools. POPS in Schools makes in-school supplemental education classes, performance opportunities, masterclasses and co-op positions available to PSD students.  

The Philly POPS will ignite its 2019–2020 TOPS of the POPS season at the POPS Ball, an annual gala held in the ballroom of the historic Bellevue.  

2019-20 Season

POPS Goes to Hollywood: From Raiders to Gotham 
September 27-29, 2019 
Todd Ellison, conductor  

John Williams alone has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, seven British Academy Film Awards, and 24 GRAMMY Awards. He, Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, Michael Giacchino and Hans Zimmer have created the signature sounds of some the most popular action-adventure films of all time. Their music transports you to a new world of magic and fantasy.    

This program features music from Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark with some Incredibles and more. It’s a night of musical action and adventure for everyone! As an added bonus, come in costume—you’ll be right at home with an expected visit from a passel of superhero characters to add to the fun.   

POPS Rocks Abbey Road: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ Masterwork 
November 8–10, 2019 
Todd Ellison, conductor featuring Classical Mystery Tour 

It’s one of rock’s most iconic albums on its 50th birthday!  Abbey Road is the final studio album of “The Fab Four” and includes some of the Beatles’ most legendary songs. Abbey Road hit the top of the charts in the U.S. and U.K., was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1995 and holds 14th place on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. This program features the shuddering groove of “Come Together,” the shimmering smile of “Here Comes the Sun” and one of the most memorable love songs of all time, George Harrison’s “Something.”  

Joining the POPS for this 50th anniversary celebration is acclaimed Beatles tribute band, Classical Mystery Tour, whom POPS fans will remember from the sold-out 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper Celebration concert series. 

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season! 
December 6-21, 2019 
David Charles Abell, Principal Guest Conductor featuring Mandy Gonzalez, vocalist and special guest, The Melodica Men 

After the sparkle of his Christmas shows, audiences eagerly awaited Principal Guest Conductor David Charles Abell’s holiday homecoming. David’s back with an original program, featuring The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The Philadelphia Boys Choir, and The St. Thomas Gospel Choir.   

Fresh from her breakout performance in Hamilton, Mandy Gonzalez returns with her incandescent charm and fabulous dresses. Last Christmas, audiences fell in love with her celestial vocal power. Expect heart-stopping interpretations of the classics, coupled with “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen, which she sang in front of Independence Hall in 2017. 

Adding to the excitement, the sensational Melodica Men will bring their humor and virtuosity to the stage. The Julliard and Peabody graduates have made a name for themselves online with their melodica covers of classical hits. We hear that, at Christmas, they even come as elves.  

HAMLISCH: With Love 
January 17-19, 2020 
Todd Ellison, conductor featuring Ashley Brown, vocalist  

Todd Ellison gets personal with a heartwarming program dedicated to his mentor and longtime friend. Marvin Hamlisch, one of history’s two PEGOTs (Pulitzer, Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar and Tony winners), had an astounding three Oscars, two Golden Globes, two Tonys, and a GRAMMY. On Broadway, it was A Chorus Line, They’re Playing our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success. In Hollywood, he was the composer of more than forty movie scores, including The Way We Were and The Sting. Vocalist Ashley Brown returns from her colossal Sinatra & Friends performance from last season.   

February 14-16, 2020 
Todd Ellison, conductor featuring Capathia Jenkins, vocalist and Ryan Shaw, vocalist  

The Queen of Soul made her mark on R&B, belting her way into the hearts of millions. She recorded over 100 Billboard-charted singles, won 21 GRAMMYs, a Kennedy Center Honor, a Medal of Freedom, and more. For decades, Aretha Franklin was the most charted female artist in history. She is ranked number one in Rolling Stone‘s list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”  

In celebration of Aretha’s incomparable contribution to popular music, The Philly POPS pays its RESPECTs with the dynamic Broadway powerhouse Capathia Jenkins and GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer Ryan Shaw. The program features Aretha’s signature renditions of “Chain of Fools,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and “Respect.” 

POPS Rocks Phil Collins 
March 6-8, 2020 
Stuart Chafetz, conductor featuring Aaron Finley, vocalist and Brian Kushmaul, percussionist  

His unforgettable drum crescendos with Genesis made an indelible mark on the ‘70s. His solo work, often with vibrant video or film aspects, defined the ‘80s—earning him two GRAMMYs, an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the only performer to play both London and Philly for LIVE AID in 1985.    

Philly’s Biggest Rock Band turns up the volume with frequent guest conductor and rock specialist Stuart Chafetz in this tribute to Phil Collins—featuring Broadway rock ‘n’ roll headliner Aaron Finley from Rock of Ages and Kinky Boots with acclaimed percussionist and Temple University graduate Brian Kushmaul.  It’s “Easy Lover,” “One More Night,” “Two Hearts” and the unforgettable “In The Air Tonight.”   

SONDHEIM: A 90th Birthday Celebration 
April 17-19, 2020 
David Charles Abell, Principal Guest Conductor featuring Liz Callaway, vocalist, Fra Fee, vocalist, and Damian Humbley, vocalist 

Stephen Sondheim holds a record eight Tonys, eight GRAMMYs, a Pulitzer and more. He began his career writing the lyrics for West Side Story, then went on to add the music for A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, Follies, and Sweeney Todd.   

David Charles Abell, who premiered a new Sweeney Todd in Zurich this year, brings the best of Sondheim to Philly in a big birthday bash, starring some of the world’s best “Sondheimians” Liz Callaway, Fra Fee and Damian Humbley.  

SINATRA: A Man and His Music 
May 1-3, 2020 
Todd Ellison, conductor, featuring Michael Andrew, vocalist  

Todd Ellison and Michael Andrew reignite the POPS’ love affair with Frank Sinatra. This original program is built upon Sinatra at the Sands, a 1966 smash-hit album recorded live with Count Basie and the Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones. That night, the Chairman capitalized on the talent around him, recapturing the dazzle of his earlier years with his definitive swagger and style.   

The program highlights some of the greatest hits from Sinatra’s nine-time GRAMMY-winning career. It’s “Come Fly with Me,” “Luck Be a Lady,” “One for My Baby”, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Kind of Town” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You”—a show that’s certain to make you feel SOOO young!