So I’ve just hit ‘send’ to the folk at the New York Pops on the last of the charts and parts for this forthcoming celebration of Stephen Schwartz’s music at Carnegie Hall on April 12. I’m an unabashed admirer of Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor of the NY Pops (pictured left) as well as several other, so-called, ‘Pops’ conductors within the American symphony orchestra firmament. And, I’ll tell you why:
‘Pops’ programming is really a misnomer. Very little of contemporary symphony orchestra ‘Pops’ programming has anything to do with contemporary ‘Pop’ Music (sic.). It’s more often than not, a catch-all phrase for orchestras playing arrangements and orchestrations (often bespoke) of the American Songbook and/or indirect spin-offs from that musical canon. The arrangements/orchestrations are usually highly sophisticated, frequently challenging to perform; even by professional orchestral musicians, and scheduled for performance on only one rehearsal!
Interesting isn’t it, that ‘Pops’ will often only get a single 2 or 2.5-hour rehearsal, whereas a more conservative program of music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and the boys will often be endured by players over 3-5 rehearsals in a week. Add to this the oft heard wide variety of music idioms and styles within a single Pops concert, and you start to understand why MDs like Maestro Reineke, or Jeff Tyzik, Jack Everly, Ty Johnson, Richard Kaufman and Matt Catingub – just to mention a few of the very polished and eminent conductors in the USA known for their ‘Pops’ work – are held in such high regard. What they do is high octane, often risky, and necessitates being highly entertaining for the audience. I wish all classical orchestral music concerts had these elements!
Now let me list the Australian ‘Pops’ conductors of the same calibre as these guys. Umm,………….Hmm?
So, if you’re in NYC on April 12, go see Steven and his very fine ‘Pops’ band and enjoy hearing the incredible music of Stephen Schwartz as they celebrate one of Broadway’s finest on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Not to be missed.
Now back to other work.