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BPO Holiday Pops Welcomes New Conductor

BPO Holiday Pops Welcomes New Conductor
John Morris Russel - From Cincinatti to Buffalo

Without a doubt, the most popular Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert of the entire year is the annual Holiday Pops event. The overwhelmingly positive proof for this statement is evident by just a quick glance at the BPO’s season schedule. Every Classical Series concert enjoys two performances, as do the vast majority of BPO Pops concerts, with other special events generally having a single concert appearance. The BPO Holiday Pops concert has proven so popular over the years however, that for many seasons past the orchestra has scheduled four separate performances of the event, and this year is no exception. BPO Holiday concerts at Kleinhans Music Hall are scheduled for Friday December 18 at 10:30am and 8pm, Saturday December 19 at 8pm, and Sunday December 20 at 2:30pm. John Morris Russell will make his debut as the new BPO Principal Pops Conductor at these concerts.

In December 2010, John Morris Russell was named the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, beginning with the 2011 concert series. Russell succeeded the late Erich Kunzel, who had died in 2009 and who had very appropriately been titled the “Prince of Pops” by the Chicago Tribune. Without at doubt, Kunzel had established the highest national profile of any conductor in the country principally known as a “pops” conductor, since the late Arthur Fiedler. As the long-time conductor of the Boston Pops, Fiedler made numerous recordings and TV appearances and his high national profile made him the most important popularizer of light classical music in the post World War II era.

Since taking over its reins, John Morris Russell has proven his ability to keep the winning Cincinnati Pops franchise at the top of the popular classical music heap, and Dan Hart and the rest of the BPO management team should be applauded for successfully engaging Russell to lead our own, highly popular pops series. This set up also allows Stefan Sanders, the new BPO Associate conductor, to concentrate more of his efforts on his many other concert duties, including serving as the new music director for the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra.

The eclectic Holiday Pops program features some popular classical selections, such as the Farandole from Bizet’s L’Arlésienne, while the recently appointed BPO concertmaster Dennis Kim is the soloist in Tim Berens’ A Winter Miracle, based on the Vivaldi Winter Concerto from the Four Seasons. And, in an unexpected, but innovative bit of programming, the BPO will perform the ineffable “Nimrod Variation” from Edward Elgar’s highly popular Enigma Variations, Op. 36.

Popular favorites like the “March of the Toys” from Babes in Toyland will be performed by the BPO and the BPO Chorus, along with Ralph Hermann’s Winter Wonderland and Morton Gould’s Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Soprano Nia Drummond will be featured in David Snyder’s arrangement of Adolph Adam’s “O Holy Night” while tenor George Brown is the soloist in Steven Reineke’s arrangement of the traditional favorite, Go Tell It on the Mountain.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will be featured in the traditional Christmas Sing-A-Long, as arranged by John Finnegan, with “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Away in a Manger”, O Come, All Ye Faithful”, and in “O Silent Night” they will be joined by the ABC Bel Canto Choir. The BPO Chorus will end the concert with Arthur Harris’ arrangement of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

If you plan to attend, please consider bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the BPO month-long, Toys for Tots drive.

Information: 885-5000 or

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