A unique treasure of the Philadelphia arts and culture scene, the Philly POPS (phillypops.org)—the largest orchestra of its kind in the U.S.—has been turning out swingy, spirited musical programming since 1979. Expect Todd Ellison to kick the tempo into overdrive when he takes his place as new music conductor this season. With an impressive résumé— he was music director for 42nd Street on Broadway and the wildly popular Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall for many seasons before becoming the music director for the Tony-winning show An American in Paris—the Steinway Artist is determined to show Philly, and the world, just how talented the POPS really are.
How did you get started with the Philly POPS? I conducted their very first Salute Series concert at Longwood Gardens in 2015— right away, I knew [the POPS] was something to remember. After doing Broadway Week in spring 2018, they began discussions for me to come in full time. I’m thrilled to be able to make music with these people all year-round.
Before that, you worked on many noteworthy shows. How will you bring your past experiences to the POPS? The POPS has some untapped talent that we are going to try and bring out. We are going to show how spectacular the woodwinds and brass are, and we are going to do it in a subtle way.
How do you feel the POPS may look different under your lead? I’ve been told I bring a lightness to the music. What I convey to the orchestra with my energy and my excitement informs them on how to play their music. The audience experiences it completely differently than they would with a different conductor.
What can we expect this season? We have such a varied selection of programs, each geared to celebrate different styles of music, representing Aretha Franklin, Queen, Phil Collins and others. I’m excited to explore all this music with the audience.