Press Release • February 14, 2020

The Philly POPS announced its 2020–2021 Bright Lights! Big City! season today, February 14, 2020.

The Bright Lights! Big City! season features a spectacular new lineup of performances from newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell, Artistic Director for Jazz Terell Stafford, and returning guest conductors Stuart Chafetz and Michael Krajewski.

“This past season, the TOPS of the POPS, was an exciting season full of many great memories and performances,” said Frank Giordano, President of The Philly POPS. “This season, we shine the light on our great city as the POPS performs everywhere—from the Mann, to the Met, from the Parkway to Independence Hall and beyond!” 

Newly appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell is a renowned conductor who has performed worldwide. He has conducted regularly on television, most notably for the 10th and 25th Anniversary concerts of Les Misérables. He has conducted five times at London’s BBC Proms. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, he earned degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School after intensive study of viola, piano, and composition. Throughout his career, he has worked with talent like Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Idina Menzel, Heather Headley, Bryn Terfel, Josh Groban, Matthew Morrison and Michael Feinstein.

David made his debut with the POPS in 2013 with his unforgettable presentations of A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season. He was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2017. Beginning as Guest Conductor and then as Principal Guest Conductor, Abell created and conducted Cole Porter’s Broadway: Too Darn HotLenny’s RevolutionBlockbuster Broadway, and A Philly POPS Christmas in 2013, 2014, 2015, returning for a record-setting run of A Philly POPS Christmas in 2019.

“As a kid growing up in Mt. Airy, I never imagined I’d be conducting The Philly POPS! The last seven years have been magical,” said Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell. “I am thrilled to start my eighth season with the POPS as we bring music to every corner of the city.”

In addition to the 2020–2021 Subscription Series, the POPS also continues to build its programming 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 2020 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 December 4. 

The POPS in Schools program enters its fifth year, representing a milestone in the landmark program that provides 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 2020–2021 Bright Lights! Big City! season at the POPS Ball, its annual gala.

2020–2021 Bright Lights! Big City! Season:

POPS Rocks Let It Be
September 25–27, 2020
David Charles Abell, conductor

The Beatles changed the rock and roll landscape forever. The Philly POPS continues its celebration of the 50th anniversaries of their last set of ground-breaking, memorable albums—the music that cemented their enduring legacy. As the final album released by “The Fab Four” Let It Be turns 50 this year!

The program features hits including “Across the Universe,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and of course, “Let It Be” from this iconic album. In addition, the POPS will play from the Revolver songbook. This time, the focus is on this latter-day music of rock’s most famous band, as interpreted by the full orchestra.

Star Wars: A Galaxy of Music
October 23–25, 2020
Stuart Chafetz, conductor

The force is strong with this one! The Philly POPS sets course for a galaxy far, far away with the music that changed cinema forever!

From the goosebumps of the “Main Theme” of the very first blockbuster film, to the suspense of the “Duel of the Fates,” John Williams’ soaring scores are rich with unforgettable themes. Williams composed the scores for all nine Star Wars films, starting with A New Hope in 1977, and has won seven GRAMMY awards and 10 nominations for the saga.

Join the Rebellion and come in costume as your favorite character to hear the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra performing the iconic soundtracks as they were recorded.

Modern Broadway: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Kander & Ebb, and more
January 22–24, 2021
Michael Krajewski, conductor
Hugh Panaro, vocalist
Caroline Bowman, vocalist
Josh Young, vocalist

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s storied career is well-represented in this magical visit to Broadway.  Philly native Hugh Panaro, the original Phantom, comes home with “Music of the Night” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

The advent of the mega-musical brings us some of the greatest composers and lyricists to ever bless Broadway! Unforgettable productions of Phantom of the OperaLes MisérablesJesus Christ Superstar, and more stand the test of time. 

Stephen Schwartz brings us “Magic to Do!” Kander and Ebb spice it up with “All That Jazz,” and the musical powerhouse of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber breaks our hearts with “Memory” from the beloved Cats.

Ella, Billie, Dinah & All That Jazz
February 19–21, 2021
Terell Stafford, conductor & trumpet
Carmen Bradford, vocalist
Alita Moses, vocalist

Philly has a rich history with jazz, and this year, the POPS highlights the three finest powerhouse divas to light up stage and song—Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington! All three singers possessed unique qualities—Ella’s effortless range and technical perfection, Billie’s soulful sensitivity, and Dinah’s infectious insouciance. But all three delivered memories to a generation of swing!

Terell Stafford, the newly appointed POPS Artistic Director for Jazz, brings together this exciting new program featuring the POPS’ signature brass section. Terell is an internationally recognized trumpeter and his performance is certain to enhance an already packed program.

Experience All That Jazz with vocalists Carmen Bradford and Alita Moses.

POPS Rocks Paul Simon, James Taylor & Billy Joel with Michael Cavanaugh
March 19–21, 2021
David Charles Abell, conductor
Michael Cavanaugh, guest artist

Michael Cavanaugh and his electrifying band join the POPS, the world’s biggest rock orchestra, in showcasing the hits of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, and many more! Experience the sweet sounds of Cavanaugh’s trademark energy and enthusiasm as he celebrates the greatest singer/songwriters of the era.

Returning from 2015’s Music of Billy Joel and 2017’s Music of Elton John, Cavanaugh brings the whole package, performing favorites like, “How Sweet It Is,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Piano Man,” and “Sweet Caroline!”

SHOWSTOPPERS! Hello, Dolly!, La Cage & Mame
Celebrating the Life of Jerry Herman
April 16–18, 2021
David Charles Abell, conductor
Louise Pitre, vocalist
Ben Davis, vocalist
Ryan Silverman, vocalist
Dee Roscioli, vocalist
Leo Manzari, tap

Broadway’s beloved Jerry Herman represented everything that was lavish, catchy, optimistic, and lighthearted about the Great White Way. Herman’s tunes never fail to leave audiences inspired and humming as they exit the theater.

To celebrate his legacy, during what would have been his 90th year, the POPS brings you his greatest showstopping numbers under the baton of Maestro David Charles Abell. Musical selections will include memorable moments from Hello, Dolly!MameLa Cage aux Folles, and more!

POPS Rocks: The Music of The Moody Blues
Go Now!
April 30–May 2, 2021
Michael Krajewski, conductor
Mick Wilson, lead vocals (known from 10cc)
Gordy Marshall, drums (known from The Moody Blues)
GO NOW!, guest artists

Gordy Marshall toured and recorded with The Moody Blues for 25 years. Together with Mick Wilson (lead singer of 10cc for 20 years), they present a super-group of world-class musicians, singers, and songwriters and meticulously recreate the elegance of a Moody Blues concert.

This program serves as an opportunity to experience the timeless orchestral rock, with hits including, “Nights in White Satin,” “Go Now,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Legend of a Mind (Timothy Leary’s Dead),” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” “Question,” “Isn’t Life Strange,” plus “Forever Autumn,” and a show-stealing rendition of “Eve of the War” from Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds.

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season
December 4–19
David Charles Abell, conductor
Mandy Gonzalez, vocalist
Charlie Albright, pianist

All the glitter and warmth of Philly’s favorite holiday tradition is back for another dazzling season! Returning from last year’s incredible holiday program, David Charles Abell brings the explosive, jaw-dropping talent of Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez back for her third Christmas with the POPS. Mandy’s performances of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” made a Christmas that no one could forget. 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.