Michael Krajewski will step down as music director of the Philly Pops at the end of the 2018-19 season, leaders of the pops orchestra announced Tuesday. The conductor, who holds similar titles with several other orchestras, will have held the spot for six seasons.
The pops won’t be undertaking a search for his successor. Rather than casting its net wide, the orchestra, whose home is in the Kimmel Center, has already turned to another conductor with whom it has worked several times.
Todd Ellison, a pianist and conductor based in Manhattan with extensive experience in Broadway repertoire, will assume the titles of music director and principal conductor July 1, 2019. His next appearance with the pops is at its annual concert on Independence Mall July 3.
David Charles Abell, based in London, will continue as principal guest conductor, and the two maestros will divide up Philly Pops shows according to their expertise and availability, said pops spokesperson Karen Corbin.
Krajewski declined to speak about the decision, which Corbin said was “totally mutual.”
Ellison is conductor, music supervisor, and arranger of the new musical Roman Holiday and composer of The Black and White Ball with Stephen Cole. He has also been music supervisor of An American in Paris at the Dominion Theater in London’s West End and 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theater.
For several seasons, he was music director of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, and he conducted On the Town and The Bandwagon at City Center’s Encores! series.
Ellison, 53, says he sees the Philly Pops continuing to program Broadway material, jazz, and pop, “just like they always have. I’m the interpreter. I give my passion and feelings out to the orchestra, they receive that, and what they put into it is what the audience hears.”
He calls the ensemble “the swingingest group I’ve ever had the privilege of conducting. They just get it, they get every style of music,” said Ellison, who grew up in Connecticut on a street called Melody Lane and who graduated from Boston University with a degree in piano performance.
Krajewski, who started his Philadelphia post with the 2013-14 season, will lead several more Philly Pops shows and has had “a transformative impact on the pops over the six years we’ve spent together, years that were major transition years for the organization,” said Corbin. “Going forward, we’re looking at an intense schedule, increased to 40-some performances, complemented with a variety of now fully built out educational and engagement activities. We found Todd, who lives a quick train ride away, to be quite enthusiastic about these opportunities and the ability to connect them programmatically to the playground that is American popular music.”