Poll: Redefining the Pops Concert

Thursday, December 09, 2010

One of America's foremost pops orchestras, the Cincinnati Pops named John Morris Russell as its next music director on Monday, effective Sept. 1, 2011.

Russell will take over the post vacated by Erich Kunzel, who headed the Cincinnati Pops from its founding in 1977 until his death in September 2009 at age 74. Kunzel led the orchestra to international fame with sales of more than 10 million recordings.

Among the orchestra's many recordings for the Telarc label is Copland: Music of America, which won a Grammy in 1997. The Pops's members are also the members of the Cincinnati Symphony, and the two orchestras are managed by the same administration.

Russell, 50, has spent the last ten seasons as music director of Canada's Windsor Symphony Orhcestra. He is also no stranger to Cincinnati. He was associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2006.

The nature of pops concerts has changed considerably since the heyday of pops maestros like Kunzel and Arthur Fielder, who led some of the country's most visible orchestras. In recent years the format has become more eclectic, spanning medleys of TV themes, former American Idol contestants, video game music and celebrity crooners doing music from last year's blockbuster movie.

What is your favorite type of pops speciality? Take our poll and leave a comment below.

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Comments [5]

Janet from Brooklyn

Make sure we get lots of Sousa - not just the Stars & Stripes Forever. King Cotton is terrific, and Sousa wrote loads of other fabulous marches - The Thunderer, High School Cadets, Semper Fidelis just for starters.

Jun. 29 2011 08:52 PM
stan cohen

leroy anderson -

Jun. 27 2011 09:35 AM

Good luck to Mr. Russell. He's got a very big pair of shoes to fill, but if the CPO keeps the sound as it did under Mr. Kunzel, he's got nothing to worry about. Just one request. Let's have some new recordings. Don't just record the same works that Mr. Kunzel made with the orchestra. I have so many requests that it would be impossible to list them all here. So, if you want, you can find me on facebook and we can take it from there.


Jan. 01 2011 10:20 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

I hope the "Pops" will hold to true to the "light classics" tradition and follow John Philip Sousa's philosophy on programming of "entertainment, not education." While Sousa did in fact educate his audiences, he also included the "pop" tunes of his day and as encores, offered up his marches like he was handing out candy to children. Sousa was a genius at programming with the proof being 12 years director of the U.S. Marine Band and 39 years leading a world-famous musical organization that bears his name. On a holiday footnote, Sousa completed his "Stars & Stripes Forever!" march on Christmas Day in 1896 and called it his "Christmas present to America." Happy holidays and season's greetings to all and best wishes to Maestro Russell.

Dec. 10 2010 10:29 PM
Glenn Askew from Wichita Falls, TX

Just follow the programming of the Boston Pops under Fiedler.

Dec. 10 2010 05:37 PM

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