The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Announces 2013-2014 Season

The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Conductor John Morris Russell announce the Pops' 2013-14 season, the third under the direction of Mr. Russell. The season, presented by PNC, celebrates some of the long-admired classics of the Pops while embracing exciting new collaborations. From Broadway to rock, R&B to family concerts, Music Hall will be the home for fans of all musical genres in 2013-14. Highlights of the season include three debuts from stars Michael McDonald, George Takei and Boyz II Men, as well the return of Cincinnati favorites Ann Hampton Callaway and Megan Hilty, who wowed Pops audiences in 2009 and has since nurtured a career from stage to screen as star of the hit NBC TV series Smash.

"This is a season that will ignite the imagination," said Mr. Russell. "Between our lineup of incredibly talented guest artists and enormously diverse programming, the Cincinnati Pops honors its cherished traditions while experimenting with new genres. I can't wait to look out and see audiences grinning from ear to ear during these programs," he said.

Several programs on the season stretch and flaunt the power of the Pops Orchestra itself, including a performance dedicated to the popular classics, made unforgettable by Pops Founder and Conductor Emeritus, Erich Kunzel. The Final Frontier, a multimedia concert incorporating visual elements and footage from space exploration, summons the full forces of the Orchestra to present music inspired by the stars. Holiday

Pops, a concert program which completely sold out in December 2012, returns with all the comforts of home, with local singers, dancers and choirs joining Ms. Callaway. Classical Mystery Tour takes place 50 years to the date of the Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and uses the original Fab Four orchestrations.

Other programs include Cocktail Hour: Music of the Mad Men Era, which draws inspiration from such musicians as Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Burt Bacharach in the spirit of Don Draper and company. Finally, Pixar in Concert celebrates nearly 20 years of smash hit animation from Toy Story to Brave.

The Final Frontier featuring George Takei

The Pops season opener sets its sights to the heavens, bringing together all the robust orchestral music inspired by space. The stars have stirred imaginations since the dawn of humankind, and composers have channeled these dreams into unforgettable masterpieces. Performing works such as Also Sprach Zarathustra and Holst's The Planets, as well as iconic music from the Sci-Fi world including themes from Star Wars and Star Trek, Mr. Russell and the Pops take audiences on an adventure through time and space. Narrating the journey into the great beyond September 20-22 is none other than Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei, who makes his Cincinnati Pops debut. Mr. Takei is an actor, writer and director who appeared in the original Star Trek television series, the first six Star Trek feature films with the original cast, dozens of other films and

television shows, and now has a broad social media following with over 3.4 million Facebook subscribers. Dean Regas, astronomer from the Cincinnati Observatory, will also be on hand to explain the "science facts" of the cosmos.

Learn more about the life and career of George Takei:

Pops Remix - Michael McDonald
Five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald joins Mr. Russell and the Pops for an unforgettable night of rock and soul infused with rhythm and blues. From his days with Steely Dan to superstardom as a member of the Doobie Brothers and beyond, Mr. McDonald's songs have filled the radio airwaves for nearly four decades and won him legions of fans. He'll perform his greatest hits including "What a Fool Believes," "Taking It to the Streets," "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," "On My Own," and "Sweet Freedom," with that one-of-a-kind voice blending soulfully with the Pops.

See videos of Mr. McDonald performing his greatest hits on his YouTube Channel:

Pops Classics - Erich Kunzel's Greatest Hits

The late Erich Kunzel, Pops Founder and Conductor Emeritus, defined and became the international face of the genre of orchestral pops music during his long tenure in Cincinnati. Erich's vision of making orchestral music accessible to all cultivated new audiences and catapulted the Orchestra to global recognition. The Pops became the music of America, embracing everything from Broadway to jazz, film soundtracks to rock and roll.

Mr. Russell leads a program on November 3 and 10 dedicated to the music made iconic by Erich's legacy with the Pops. Melodies made memorable by the likes of Tchaikovsky, John Williams, Henry Mancini and more (many of which can be heard on one of the dozens of best-selling Pops recordings) revisit the Music Hall stage as the Orchestra journeys from where the Pops began and looks forward to the future.

Holiday Pops Spectacular featuring Ann Hampton Callaway
Spending the holidays with the Pops has become a Cincinnati family tradition, and in 2013, the tradition continues in the same vein as Mr. Russell's popular "Home for the Holidays" concerts at the Taft Theatre a decade ago. The Orchestra again welcomes singers and dancers from across the region in a "So Cincinnati" program that invokes the spirit of home.

At the center of the Yuletide spectacular is a true champion of the American Songbook, Ann Hampton Callaway. This multifaceted all-around entertainer has long been a favorite of Cincinnati audiences, even appearing on the Pops' 2006 Christmastime is Here CD. Paired with Mr. Russell and the heartwarming, familiar tunes of holiday season, she is sure to fill

Music Hall with good cheer on December 13-15.
A video of Ms. Callaway performing "Over the Rainbow" is available on YouTube:

Megan Hilty: Star of Smash and Broadway
Stepping in at a moment's notice to replace an ailing Kristen Chenoweth in 2009, Megan Hilty wowed Music Hall audiences, proving herself among the great Broadway divas. Since then, Ms. Hilty has built an unmatchable career on stage and screen, most notably starring in the hit television series Smash. She made her Broadway debut opposite Idina Menzel as a standby for Wicked, continued her stage career starring in such productions as 9 to 5, and has continued a career in film and television.

Megan Hilty returns to the Pops with Mr. Russell on January 24-26, 2014 for a program of Broadway hits and tunes taken out of the Great American Songbook.

Watch Ms. Hilty perform "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" on Broadway:

Pops Remix - Classical Mystery Tour

Fifty years ago, the world changed forever when four Brits with sharp suits and moppy haircuts appeared for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. There was no turning back for the Beatles, who launched the world into a new era of rock and roll. After dozens of platinum albums, iconic hit singles and overwhelming popularity, it's hard to argue that John, Paul, George and Ringo completely changed the face of popular music.

What is less obvious to many casual listeners, however, is the collection of Beatles hits that feature a full orchestra. Classical Mystery Tour, comprised of four guest artists who look and sound just like the Fab Four, brings together all of the most popular songs from the band with their original orchestrations, performed by the Cincinnati Pops. Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra Associate Conductor

Robert Trevin?o leads the one-night-only concert on February 9, 2014.
A video of these unique artists is available on YouTube:

Cocktail Hour: Music of the Mad Men Era
Behind every suave "Mad Man" is an even cooler soundtrack. With all their smart fashion and swanky drinks, the movers and shakers of the '60s would lose their swagger without the rhythms and sounds that defined the era. Guest conductor Steven Reineke and the Pops deliver just that with selections from such musical icons as Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and Burt Bacharach on March 8-9, 2014. Special guest soloists Nikke Renee Daniels and Ryan Silverman help conjure the mood of martinis, Manhattans and smooth sophistication quintessential to these mid-century modern tunes.

A video of Pops favorite Ryan Silverman performing "My Funny Valentine" is available on YouTube:

Pixar in Concert

Animated film changed forever when Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang emerged from the Pixar studios and landed in the hearts of kids and adults alike in 1995's Toy Story. Since that phenomenal first film, the team of Disney and Pixar has released 12 additional heartwarming and memorable full-length films that have brought families together with their side-splitting humor and poignant tenderness. The Cincinnati Pops has fostered a long relationship with the music of Disney, and on April 4-6, 2014, Mr. Russell and the Orchestra take kids of all ages down memory lane with a multimedia production featuring visual montages from these iconic films, from Toy Story to Brave and everything in between.

A video celebrating Pixar films is available on YouTube:

Pops Remix - Boyz II Men
As the best-selling R&B act of all time, the music of Boyz II Men defined a generation. Songs such as "On Bended Knee," "I'll Make Love to You" and "4 Seasons of Loneliness" topped Billboard charts and ushered in a new era of R&B in the 1990s. They continue to tour to sold-out crowds and to date have sold 60 million records. On April 29, 2014, this remarkable group makes its Pops debut for a one-night-only concert closing the Pops season. Bathed in the full orchestral colors of the Orchestra, this concert expands the Pops genre even further and proves that the Cincinnati Pops can truly play anything.

More On: Broadway, Burt Bacharach, September, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Taft Theatre.

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by Peter Danish