-Courtesy of the Philadelphia POPS
Fan-favorite guest conductor Byron Stripling returns to the POPS with a ‘s marvelous star-studded array of guest vocalists and musicians, celebrating beloved American music legend George Gershwin in ‘S Wonderful ’S Gershwin, May 13–15 at the Kimmel Cultural Campus.
“George Gershwin was a uniquely American composer. He drew influences from his experience as the son of Ukranian-Jewish immigrants, growing up in Brooklyn. He was inspired by the music of his family’s roots, marrying classical music to the new music of the time, jazz, coming out of Harlem. Gershwin’s love of jazz, America’s gift to popular music, is imbued into ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’” said guest conductor Byron Stripling.
Guest artists for this performance include Broadway stars Nikki Renée Daniels (currently starring in Company), Ryan Silverman and Allison Blackwell, with pianist and Steinway artist Charlie Albright. The program highlights the stunning catalogue of the Gershwin brothers, featuring hits from Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris and Shall We Dance. Favorites like “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Summertime,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and more, will leave audiences humming long after the performances. The POPS will also perform “Rhapsody in Blue,” which was played at the POPS’ first-ever performance in 1979.
Composed in 1924, “Rhapsody in Blue” became one of Gershwin’s best-known and most recognizable works. It was the signature piece of the POPS’ founding Music Director Peter Nero and has not been performed by the POPS in Verizon Hall for over a decade. Bandleader Paul Whiteman originally commissioned Gershwin to write the experimental piece for an all-jazz concert in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Gershwin completed the piece in under five weeks, taking great inspiration from a train ride to Boston. At its premiere, the piece shocked and amazed concertgoers—blurring the lines between classical and jazz music, featuring a piano solo backed by a jazz band.
“A striking number of jazz standards and American songbook classics trace their roots to the Gershwins. Everyone knows these songs—even if they don’t know that they do. When someone hears a Gershwin song, they automatically just relax—knowing that they’re home,” said Stripling. “Throughout the past 100 years, these songs have been performed by some of the most noteworthy names in music—like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and more. We are so excited to have four wonderful guest artists with us to celebrate this great composer.”
In addition to this performance, the POPS is active in reinterpreting jazz for today’s audiences. The POPS presents Terell Stafford’s Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and, as part of the POPSinSchools program, partners with the School District of Philadelphia for the All-City Jazz program, currently offered in nine Philadelphia School District high schools, including Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Carver Engineering and Science, Central High School, Franklin Learning Center, George Washington High School, Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) and Julia R. Masterman School.
Tickets start at $35 and are available at www.phillypops.org/gershwin. ‘S Wonderful ‘S Gershwin runs May 13, 14 and 15, 2022 at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus. For the most up-to-date information about the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Safe and Clean Commitment, click here.
Guests and members of the community are invited to enjoy the Pre-Concert Showcase, presented by POPSinSchools. Pre-Concert Showcases are free and open to the public. They include a pre-concert conversation with guest artists and conductors, hosted by local radio personalities, and performances from POPSinSchools students. The Pre-Concert Showcase begins 90 minutes before the featured concert, on the Plaza Stage in the Kimmel’s Commonwealth Plaza.
The Philly POPS is partnered with Art-Reach for their ACCESS initiative. ACCESS cardholders can purchase tickets for the reduced price of $2 per ticket in person at the Academy of Music box office, online or over the phone.