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BPO's new pops season has tributes to Nat 'King' Cole, ABBA, the Beatles

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Pops season has its own allure, separate from the much-anticipated Classics season. This year the season is generating special buzz, because of the zippy presence of the orchestra’s new principal pops conductor, John Morris Russell.

Russell, also is music director of the Cincinnati Pops, has been wowing the crowds, approaching his new job with creativity and pizzazz. His Holiday Pops concert garnered rave reviews, from critics and audience alike. A recent pops concert featuring jazz singer Dee Daniels also was a hit.

His appearances are sure to be highlights of the 2016-2017 pops season.

To kick things off, Russell is conducting a John Williams movie theme celebration. He’ll also preside over a performance by New York Voices, a virtuosic vocal quartet that last appeared in Buffalo in 2004, also on the Philharmonic Pops series. Russell will be conducting a Valentine’s Day concert, as well as a concert featuring the original cast of “Jersey Boys” and another Holiday Pops.

BPO audiences also will hear from other conductors who have proved their mettle here as maestros and entertainers.

It will be fun to welcome back the jazzy, Vegas-savvy Matt Catingub. Catingub, who we learned can sing, play sax and piano and even imitate Louis Prima, will be presenting “Swingin’ Stars and Stripes.”

The witty Michael Krajewski is conducting singer Liz Callaway in “Tapestry: The Carole King Songbook.” Callaway, the sister of jazz singer Ann Hampton Callaway, has been the voice of movie cartoon heroines including Anastasia in “Anastasia” and Odette in “The Swan Princess.”

Stefan Sanders, the BPO’s associate conductor, will be on the podium for a Broadway comedy celebration and a Nat “King” Cole tribute. He also will conduct “The Music of ABBA,” featuring Arrival From Sweden, a 12-piece band considered the apex of ABBA tribute bands.

Rounding out the season is another encore appearance: “The Beatles Classical Mystery Tour.” On its most recent visit to Kleinhans, in 2014, this Beatles tribute sold out and proved itself very spot-on and entertaining.

Here is the 2016-2017 BPO Pops season. All concerts take place at Kleinhans Music Hall.

• 8 p.m. Sept. 24: “John Williams’ Movie Masterpieces,” with themes from “Superman,” “Jurassic Park,” “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars.”

• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 7 and 8 p.m. Oct. 8: “Benny and Me,” a tribute to Benny Goodman featuring BPO saxophonist Sal Andolina, who knew the legendary clarinetist, and the BPO Big Band. Sanders conducts.

• 8 p.m. Oct. 22: New York Voices perform “Sweet Sounds of the '70s.”

• 8 p.m. Nov. 5: “The Beatles’ Classical Mystery Tour.”

• 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 16, 8 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 18: The BPO and Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus perform “John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops.”

• 8 p.m. Jan. 28, 2017: Liz Callaway in “Tapestry: The Carole King Songbook.”

• 10:30 a.m. Feb. 10 and 8 p.m. Feb. 11: “A Valentine Romance” features Lisa Vroman in love songs from the great musicals.

• 8 p.m. March 4, 2017: “The Unforgettable Nat ‘King’ Cole,” featuring Denzal Sinclaire performing Cole’s greatest hits.

• 10:30 a.m. March 31 and 8 p.m. April 1, 2017: “The Midtown Men” with the original cast of “Jersey Boys.”

• 8 p.m. April 29, 2017: “The Music of ABBA: Arrival From Sweden.”

• 10:30 a.m. May 26 and 8 p.m. May 27, 2017: “Swingin’ Stars and Stripes.”

• 8 p.m. June 10, 2017: “Broadway Comedy Tonight!” with hits from musicals including “Chicago,” “Anything Goes,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Wicked” and “Hairspray.”

For more info, visit or call 885-5000.


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