In his first season as principal pops conductor, John Morris Russell has made a splash in Western New York. This coming season features more opportunities to see him on the podium, and a variety of exciting pops concerts handpicked by Russell from today's best acts.
Russell is leading five shows with the BPO next season. He kicks off the "Pops Series" with the music of today's most prolific and popular composer: John Williams. The concert features music from the "Star Wars" series, "Superman," "ET," "Jurassic Park" and the "Harry Potter" series.
On Oct. 22, Russell introduces New York Voices to Buffalo audiences in "Sweet Sounds of the 70s." New York Voices have been performing together for 25 years and have won multiple Grammy Awards. Known for their tight-knit harmonies and their broad range of influences, they will perform music by Queen, Paul Simon Chicago and other top singer-songwriters of the era.
Broadway star Lisa Vroman joins Russell for a heart-stirring concert of the best love songs from Broadway and the American songbook on Feb. 10-11. Vroman has starred in some of the most romantic musicals of THIS time, including a run as Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. The Feb. 11 concert includes the "Sweetheart Dance," an annual tradition at the BPO.
Russell also leads The Midtown Men on March 31 and April 1. The original cast of the smash Broadway hit "Jersey Boys" continues to bring the greatest hits of the 1960s to life at concert halls around the world. This concert marks their BPO debut.
Two popular conductors return to the BPO. On Jan. 28, Michael Krajewski leads Tony-nominated vocalist Liz Callaway in "Tapestry - The Carole King Songbook." Callaway's versatile vocal career has included her award-winning "Sibling Revelry" show with sister and 2014 BPO guest artist Ann Hampton Callaway; an Academy Award nomination for "Journey to the Past" in the animated feature "Anastasia"; and five solo recordings. Krajewski has led the BPO on many occasions, most recently last May for the "Bond and Beyond" show and in November for "Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel."
Matt Catingub returns May 26-27 to pay tribute to the American spirit with "Swingin' Stars and Stripes." This patriotic concert has a 1940s twist, featuring the music that inspired the Allies to triumph over the Axis. Catingub brought his Big Band and his Gershwin shows to Kleinhans and the BPO in 2014.
As a young man, Sal Andolina had a life-changing experience in New York when a chance encounter led to him taking a master class from the legendary Benny Goodman. The experience has resonated through Andolina's career not only as a clarinetist/saxophonist for the BPO, but as a bandleader. On Oct. 7-8, he is featured in his "Benny and Me" show, which he has performed with several symphony orchestras around the country. The tight-knit, highly skilled brass section of the BPO joins him. His team of area jazz artists augments their sound for a thrilling performance.
Classical Mystery Tour has earned fans the world over for its faithful portrayal of the music of The Beatles. The BPO adds an orchestral twist to music spanning The Beatles' career, from their early breakout songs like "Twist and Shout" to the musically complex "A Day in the Life." Rock concert lighting and the dynamic stage presence of the quartet make for a heady concert experience when the band returns to the BPO Nov. 5.
Other series highlights include several concerts led by Stefan Sanders, including a tribute to Nat King Cole with Toronto-based vocalist Denzal Sinclaire; top ABBA show band Arrival From Sweden; and "Broadway Comedy Tonight," featuring the Great White Way's funniest music from shows such as "Wicked" and "Chicago."
"I'm thrilled to be sharing the stage with the fantastic musicians of the BPO as we celebrate the American musical experience in our 'Pops' series," Russell said. "The very best of Broadway, Hollywood, jazz and rock 'n' roll will keep Kleinhans hopping all season long!"
BPO Holiday Pops
Russell is known as "Mr. Christmas" for his love of holiday music. With a personal collection of more than 1,000 holiday albums, he consistently creates holiday programs that sparkle and enchant. Last season, he impressed audiences at his "Holiday Pops" debut with witty banter and a spectacular musical program. For 2016's "Holiday Pops," he plans to feature the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in a program of stunningly arranged favorites. Four performances are slated for Dec. 16-18.
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