Fan-favorite guest conductor Byron Stripling returns to the POPS with a 's marvelous star-studded array of guest vocalists and musicians.

By: Apr. 11, 2022

Fan-favorite guest conductor Byron Stripling returns to the POPS with a 's marvelous star-studded array of guest vocalists and musicians, celebrating beloved American music legend George Gershwin in 'S Wonderful 'S Gershwin, May 13-15 at the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

"George Gershwin was a uniquely American composer. He drew influences from his experience as the son of Ukranian-Jewish immigrants, growing up in Brooklyn. He was inspired by the music of his family's roots, marrying classical music to the new music of the time, jazz, coming out of Harlem. Gershwin's love of jazz, America's gift to popular music, is imbued into 'Rhapsody in Blue,'" said guest conductor Byron Stripling.

Guest artists for this performance include Broadway stars Nikki Renée Daniels (currently starring in Company), Ryan Silverman and Allison Blackwell, with pianist and Steinway artist Charlie Albright. The program highlights the stunning catalogue of the Gershwin brothers, featuring hits from Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris and Shall We Dance. Favorites like "I've Got Rhythm," "Summertime," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and more, will leave audiences humming long after the performances. The POPS will also perform "Rhapsody in Blue," which was played at the POPS' first-ever performance in 1979.

Composed in 1924, "Rhapsody in Blue" became one of Gershwin's best-known and most recognizable works. It was the signature piece of the POPS' founding Music Director Peter Nero and has not been performed by the POPS in Verizon Hall for over a decade. Bandleader Paul Whiteman originally commissioned Gershwin to write the experimental piece for an all-jazz concert in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Gershwin completed the piece in under five weeks, taking great inspiration from a train ride to Boston. At its premiere, the piece shocked and amazed concertgoers-blurring the lines between classical and jazz music, featuring a piano solo backed by a jazz band.

"A striking number of jazz standards and American songbook classics trace their roots to the Gershwins. Everyone knows these songs-even if they don't know that they do. When someone hears a Gershwin song, they automatically just relax-knowing that they're home," said Stripling. "Throughout the past 100 years, these songs have been performed by some of the most noteworthy names in music-like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and more. We are so excited to have four wonderful guest artists with us to celebrate this great composer."

In addition to this performance, the POPS is active in reinterpreting jazz for today's audiences. The POPS presents Terell Stafford's Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and, as part of the POPSinSchools program, partners with the School District of Philadelphia for the All-City Jazz program, currently offered in nine Philadelphia School District high schools, including Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, Carver Engineering and Science, Central High School, Franklin Learning Center, George Washington High School, Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP), High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) and Julia R. Masterman School.

Tickets start at $35 and are available at 'S Wonderful 'S Gershwin runs May 13, 14 and 15, 2022 at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus. For the most up-to-date information about the Kimmel Cultural Campus' Safe and Clean Commitment, click here.

Guests and members of the community are invited to enjoy the Pre-Concert Showcase, presented by POPSinSchools. Pre-Concert Showcases are free and open to the public. They include a pre-concert conversation with guest artists and conductors, hosted by local radio personalities, and performances from POPSinSchools students. The Pre-Concert Showcase begins 90 minutes before the featured concert, on the Plaza Stage in the Kimmel's Commonwealth Plaza.

The Philly POPS is partnered with Art-Reach for their ACCESS initiative. ACCESS cardholders can purchase tickets for the reduced price of $2 per ticket in person at the Academy of Music box office, online or over the phone.

Performance repertoire:

  • Strike Up the Band
  • 'S Wonderful
  • But Not for Me
  • The Man I Love
  • I Got Plenty O' Nothin'
  • Foggy Day
  • Love Walked In
  • Embraceable You
  • Lady Be Good
  • Summertime
  • I've Got Rhythm
  • I've Got a Crush on You
  • Someone To Watch Over Me
  • Love is Here to Stay
  • They Can't Take That Away From Me
  • Rhapsody in Blue

A powerhouse trumpeter, gifted with a soulful voice and a charismatic onstage swagger, Byron Stripling has delighted audiences internationally.

Currently, Stripling serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly acclaimed, award-winning Columbus Jazz Orchestra and was recently appointed as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Since his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, Stripling has emerged as one of America's most popular symphony pops guest artists, having performed with over 100 orchestras around the world. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and performs at jazz festivals throughout the world.

An accomplished actor and singer, Stripling was chosen, following a worldwide search, to star in the lead role of the Broadway bound musical Satchmo. Many will remember his featured cameo performance in the television movie The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and his critically acclaimed virtuoso trumpet and riotous comedic performance in the 42nd Street production of From Second Avenue to Broadway.

Television viewers have enjoyed his work as soloist on the worldwide telecast of the Grammy Awards. Millions have heard his trumpet and voice on television commercials and TV theme songs, including on 20/20, CNN, and soundtracks of favorite movies.

Stripling earned his stripes as lead trumpeter and soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Thad Jones and Frank Foster. He has also played and recorded extensively with the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Dave Brubeck, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, and Buck Clayton, in addition to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and the GRP All Star Big Band.

Stripling enjoys conducting seminars and master classes at colleges, universities, conservatories, and high schools. His informative talks, combined with his incomparable wit and charm, make him a favorite guest speaker to groups of all ages.

A resident of Ohio, Stripling lives in the country with his wife, former dancer, writer and poet, Alexis and their beautiful daughters

Nikki Renée Daniels is currently starring in Company, on Broadway. She recently played Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton at the CIBC Center in Chicago. She has also been seen on Broadway as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, Clara in the 2012 Tony Award winning revival of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, as Fantine in Les Miserablés, and in Nine, Aida, Little Shop of Horrors, The Look of Love, Promises, Promises, Anything Goes and Lestat. She made her New York City Opera debut as Clara in Porgy and Bess.

Nikki played the featured role of Tracy in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Radio City Music Hall. Other New York credits include playing Martha Jefferson in 1776 at City Center Encores! and Rose Lennox in The Secret Garden at David Geffen Hall.

Regional theater credits include Ray Charles Live! (Della B.) at Pasadena Playhouse; Anything Goes (Hope) at Williamstown Theatre Festival; Beauty and the Beast (Belle) at Sacramento Music Circus, American Musical Theater of San Jose and North Shore Music Theater; Ragtime (Sarah) at North Shore Music Theatre; Aida (Aida) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Narrator) at ArtPark.

Film/Television: The Other Woman, Chappelle's Show, Madam Secretary, and The Sound of Music: Live.

Nikki has performed as a soloist with many symphony orchestras across the country and Canada. She has also performed as a soloist at Carnegie Hall. Her debut CD, Home, is available on iTunes and For more information please visit

Noted for his performances which "stand in memory" (The New York Times), multiple Drama Desk nominee Ryan Silverman has been praised as the "smoothest, most assured bari-tenor, leading-man theatre voice at the moment" ( Silverman received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actor for the role of Terry Connor in Side Show on Broadway and has starred as Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera and as Billy Flynn in CHICAGO.

Silverman has also received Drama Desk and Drama League nominations for his performance as Giorgio in CSC's 2013 production of Passion, which The New York Times praised for its "risk-taking, unconditional emotional commitment." Additionally, he has appeared as Sir Lancelot in Camelot at the Kennedy Center, in the Théâtre Du Châtelet's acclaimed production of Passion opposite Natalie Dessay, as Tony in the Olivier-nominated 2008 West End production of West Side Story, and in the premiere of Delaware Theater Company's new musical, A Sign of The Times.

Silverman recently starred in concert with West Side Story with the Philadelphia Orchestra and in The Golden Apple at City Center Encores! He has made soloist appearances with the New York Pops, Seattle Symphony, Philly Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Houston Symphony, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, the Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, the Kaohsiung Symphony in Taiwan, and Edmonton Symphony, among others.

Other credits include Cry-Baby on Broadway, Finian's Rainbow (Irish Repertory Theater), and New York City Opera's The Most Happy Fella. He recently made his debut at Papermill, starring in Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors.

Regional credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie (Jimmy), Cinderella (the Prince), Grease! (Danny), Hello Dolly! (Cornelius), Assassins (John Wilkes Booth), Sweeney Todd (Anthony), Forever Plaid (Smudge), and Blood Brothers (Eddie Lyons). Silverman has performed his club act the Café Carlyle (month long residency) and Feinstein's at the Regency, as well as 54Below with Melissa Errico. His television and film credits include Suits, Good Fight, Gossip Girl, The 5 Minarets Of New York, Sex and the City 2, and True Blood.

"But for my money it was vocalist Allison Blackwell who made the evening. In a luscious orchestration of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," the Pops and Blackwell created one of those great city moments when everything seems to stop. The sounds of goodness, sincerity and warmth poured forth."-Peter Dobrin, Classical Music Critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer

Raised in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, this award winning Philadelphia native has distinguished herself as a force of nature in the theatre and concert world. Her versatile voice and outgoing personality on stage make her a highly sought out performer.

Allison Blackwell made her Broadway debut in the Gershwin's Porgy and Bess alongside six-time Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald and Tony Nominees Norm Lewis and David Alan Grier. This life changing experience allowed Ms. Blackwell to record her first original cast album and perform at the 2012 Tony Awards (Winner: Best Revival). In 2013, Allison was blessed to play one of her musical "idols" Aretha Franklin, in A Night With Janis Joplin. USA Today noted, "Allison Blackwell, veers from a stunning operatic rendering of Summertime to a shivery, booming impersonation of Aretha Franklin." She subsequently joined the Broadway cast for Disney's The Lion King after finishing her run in A Night With Janis Joplin. Allison Blackwell was last seen on Broadway playing the featured role of Violetta in Pretty Woman: The Musical. "When Edward and Vivian go to see "La Traviata," they're practically blown off the stage next to Allison Blackwell's stunning soprano." -Roma Torre NY1

Allison Blackwell has performed with such orchestras as The Boston Pops, The New York Pops, The Atlanta Symphony and The Houston Symphony. With The Philly Pops, she has been seen as a guest artist in such concerts as The Carole King Songbook, Elvis: The Kings Songbook, Philly Pops Memorial Salute Concert and the Pops at Independence Hall.

Ms. Blackwell received her Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College and her Masters of Music from The Boston Conservatory.

For more information about Allison Blackwell, visit her website

Hailed as "among the most gifted musicians of his generation" with a "dazzling natural keyboard affinity" who "made quite an impression" by The Washington Post, American pianist/composer/improviser Charlie Albright has been praised for his "jaw-dropping technique and virtuosity meshed with a distinctive musicality" by The New York Times, and his "extravagance that had showmanship but never felt cheap" with his "ease and smoothness that refuses to airbrush the music, but animates it from within" by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He is a frequently returning guest artist with such orchestras as the BBC Concert Orchestra (14-concert tour with Maestro Keith Lockhart, chosen as one of the "Best of the BBC 2015"); the Alabama, Baltimore, Boston Pops, Buffalo, California, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Edmonton (Canada), Des Moines, Fort Smith, Houston, Kymi Sinfonietta (Finland), Lansing, Mobile, National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing, China), Omaha, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, Victoria (Canada), and West Michigan Symphony Orchestras. He has performed worldwide, including at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.); Symphony Hall (Boston); the Salle Cortot (Paris, France); the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Miami); the Kumho Art Hall (Seoul, South Korea); the NCPA (Beijing); and Alice Tully Hall (Mostly Mozart Festival, New York).

Albright regularly collaborates with artists from all genres, including vocalist/conductor Bobby McFerrin and violinist Joshua Bell. He has collaborated five times with revered cellist Yo-Yo Ma: at the honorary degree ceremony at Harvard University for Senator Ted Kennedy; at a 10th anniversary remembrance of 9/11; at the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison; at the Aspen Institute's Citizen Artistry conference in New York; and with the Silk Road Project.

Born in Centralia, Washington, Albright began piano lessons at the age of 3. He studied with Nancy Adsit and earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College while still in high school. He was the first classical pianist in the Harvard College/New England Conservatory 5-Year AB/MM Joint Program, completing a Bachelor's Degree as an Economics major and Pre-Med student at Harvard, and a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance at NEC, having studied with Wha-Kyung Byun. He graduated with the prestigious Artist Diploma (A.D.) from The Juilliard School, having studied with Yoheved Kaplinsky. Albright is an official Steinway Artist.

The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert performances and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.

As the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia's partner in civic celebration, The Philly POPS serves a consistently growing audience of over 450,000 annually. Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell and the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra keeps listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditional music up through to today's chart-toppers.

In addition to Subscription Series performances at The Kimmel Center, The Philly POPS presents innovative programming with contemporary artists at the Met Philadelphia in The Philly POPS at the Met Philadelphia series. Other ensembles that make up The Philly POPS are: The Philly POPS BIG Band, which plays a rock and rhythm and blues repertoire and The Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, under the direction of Artistic Director for Jazz, Terell Stafford.

Outside the concert hall, free Salute Series performances-including Memorial Salute, July 3 POPS on Independence, July 4 POPS on the Parkway and the I'll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert-celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays. POPS in Schools enhances music education for 3,000 Philadelphia School District students, reaching over 38,000 students online through POPS in Schools @ Home. The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, as the Principal Orchestra of the Met Philadelphia, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

BroadwayWorld Awards Voting

RELATED STORIES - Philadelphia

See Isaac Mizrahi, AMERICAS GOT TALENT Performers & More At Bucks County Playhouse in  Photo
See Isaac Mizrahi, AMERICA'S GOT TALENT Performers & More At Bucks County Playhouse in 2024

Bucks County Playhouse announces a slate of visiting performers for 2024, including Isaac Mizrahi, America's Got Talent performers, and more.

Review: BALLETX IN BRYN MAWR at Goodhart Hall Photo
Review: BALLETX IN BRYN MAWR at Goodhart Hall

BalletX Takes Contemporary Ballet To The Philadelphia Main Line

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Peoples Light Theatre Company Photo
Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at People's Light Theatre Company

A truly unique, original, and moving piece of theater brilliantly presented in time for the Holiday Season.

Interact Theatre Company Is Hosting The Second Ever THE 24 HOUR PLAYS In Philadelphia Photo
Interact Theatre Company Is Hosting The Second Ever THE 24 HOUR PLAYS In Philadelphia

On December 4th, the Dramatists Guild and InterAct Theatre Company are partnering with The 24 Hour Plays for this year's production of The 24 Hour Plays: Philadelphia, featuring artists from across our city's vibrant performing arts community.

More Hot Stories For You


Crumbs from the Table of Joy in Philadelphia Crumbs from the Table of Joy
Lantern Theater Company (11/09-12/17)Tracker
Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in Philadelphia Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
Lantern Theater Company (12/02-12/27)Tracker
An Evening With Me  in Philadelphia An Evening With Me
Rittenhouse Grill (12/11-5/20)
Robert Malissa ♦ Moments of Magic in Philadelphia Robert Malissa ♦ Moments of Magic
Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater (12/16-12/16)
Pippin in Philadelphia Pippin
Temple Theaters (2/22-2/29)
Cocktail Hour: The Show in Philadelphia Cocktail Hour: The Show
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (12/29-12/29)
Hadestown in Philadelphia Hadestown
Kimmel Center [Merriam Theater] (4/10-4/14)
Mariana Sadovska: The Night is Just Beginning in Philadelphia Mariana Sadovska: The Night is Just Beginning
Harold Prince Theatre (3/01-3/01)
Big: The Musical in Philadelphia Big: The Musical
Bristol Riverside Theare (3/19-4/14)
Negro Ensemble Company: Zooman and the Sign in Philadelphia Negro Ensemble Company: Zooman and the Sign
Harold Prince Theatre (2/15-2/18)

Recommended For You