PHILLY POPS will run the gamut from AA to BBB - with Awesomely Accomplished Big Band Blasts of pop legends like ABBA, Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees and James Brown - in its super-hopped and popped 2014-15 season.
The Pops' 36th season, to be formally announced today, also spreads more traditional, big-orchestra-and-vocals love for the American Songbook, epic Hollywood soundtracks and, of course, the holidays.
"I want every Philly Pops concert to be a joyous experience, one that brings a smile to faces, that evokes fond memories and lifts spirits," musical director and conductor Michael Krajewski said.
Here's how next season lines up. Please note, there ain't a Sousa salute in sight. Clearly, Philly's not your grandpop's Pops any more.
* "Era of ABBA"
Shake it up to tunes like "Dancing Queen" and "Take a Chance on Me" as laid on by another fair-haired Nordic vocal ensemble, the Finnish sextet Rajaton. (The name means "boundless" in Finnish. Mamma mia!)
The '70s-themed songathon also reimagines hits by the Bee Gees, John Denver, Carole King and Elton John, swelled by the Pops' 60-plus players. Oct. 17-19.
* "Christmas Spectacular!"
Guest conductor David Charles Abell scored so well with audiences at the 2013 holiday shows, "we immediately signed him for two more years," said Philly Pops president Frank Giordano. Abell spent his youth in Philadelphia. Same holds true for the guest vocalist, Hugh Panaro, currently holding down the title role in the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera." Dec. 5-20.
* "Classic Soul"
More Broadway firepower, from seasoned stage singers/actors Carpathia Jenkins and Darius de Haas, brings out the torchy dramatic best in R&B classics from the catalogs of Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Al Green and Marvin Gaye. Feb 6 to 8, 2015.
* "American Song Book Then & Now"
The good times roll on with Tony DeSare, a jazz-flavored singer/keyboardist/composer favorably compared to "neo-traditionalists" Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr. and, most especially, Jamie Cullum. Yeah, DeSare's range is really broad, covering the waterfront from Frank Sinatra to Billy Joel to Jerry Lee Lewis. Only concern? His handsome mug makes unlucky-in-love laments hard to imagine. March 13-15, 2015.
* "Epic Hollywood Soundtracks"
Blockbuster themes from "Gone With The Wind," "Lord of the Rings," "Dances with Wolves" and "Harry Potter" are high on Krajewski's hit list for this cinema soundtrack soiree. Expect much rumbling underfoot by the Pops Festival Chorus. April 10-12, 2015.
* "Legends of Rock"
Did you know there's now a Rock Tenors group working the concert-hall circuit? Philly Pops found and brings them to you to serve up epics from Queen, Journey and Paul McCartney, plus Yes, Coldplay, Sting, the Doobie Brothers and CS&N. May 15-17, 2015.
- Jonathan Takiff