The Philly Pops Hit a High Note on the Eve of Their 35th Year
by alexandra leshner| December 3, 2013 |
Michael Krajewski takes the baton with The Philly Pops.
Since its founding in 1979, The Philly Pops has garnered international acclaim for its ability to blend genres and inject new life into some of the best-loved music of all time. In those 35 years, its mission to entertain and engage audiences has never wavered, and its new music director, Michael Krajewski, has no plans to change that. “I like to create programs that touch people’s hearts,” says the Michigan native, who has collaborated with popular artists like Kenny Loggins and Ben Folds. “The Philly Pops is all about experiencing the music we know and love.”
Noted for his witty sense of humor, Krajewski succeeds by being unpredictable. “My goal is to give people what they want but to surprise them with how I do it,” he says. That includes his choice of material: One upcoming program is “The Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel” (February 7–9), a favorite of Krajewski’s, for which he also wrote the orchestrations. “It’s been extremely gratifying to see how enthusiastically audiences have responded to it,” he says. In addition to the season’s new shows, the orchestra will bring back its traditional “Holiday POPS!” program, a series of festive choir performances throughout the month of December.
While taking on his new role in Philadelphia, Krajewski will continue to juggle his positions as principal pops conductor of symphony orchestras in Atlanta, Houston, and Jacksonville, Florida. “Having the opportunity to work with several orchestras at the same time [allows me] to always be honing my skills and broadening my knowledge,” he says. “Often I discover something with one orchestra that I can carry with me to another.”
Krajewski is no stranger to the city: He was the guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra in the summer of 2012 and led the Pops three times during the 2012–13 season. “It’s very exciting to immerse myself into the fabric of a city like Philadelphia,” he says. “It’s a vibrant city with a great tradition in music and the arts. I can’t wait to become more acquainted with all it has to offer.” The Philly Pops performs through May at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. 300 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999