The Philly POPS to cease operations after 2022-23 season

Philly POPS 
The Philly POPS 

After nearly 50 years, The Philly POPS — the largest standalone pops orchestra in the U.S. dedicated to popular music, jazz, swing and show tunes — announced that it will cease operations at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.

“For more than four decades, audiences have brought enthusiasm and energy to our performances, matching our joyful sound, note for note,” wrote The Philly POPS’ President Frank Giordano in a statement. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, a combination of circumstances has led The Philly POPS to make the difficult decision to cease operations following the conclusion of the current 2022–23 season.

“Until then, we assure you that our planned shows will go on as scheduled. With support from The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. (POKC), our leadership team is working to fulfill obligations to our loyal audiences, generous sponsors, and talented musicians, while identifying ways to continue the celebrated tradition of pops programming in Philadelphia.”

Part of the heart and soul of Philadelphia since 1979 when it was founded by local presenter and producer Moe Septee, The Philly POPS will fulfill its schedule of the 10 dates of ‘A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season’ in December, along with honoring terms and conditions of its existing contract agreement with its musicians. As for its music education POPS in Schools program for 3,000 Philadelphia School District students, its POPS Outside incentive bringing orchestral music to local communities and other initiatives such as its Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, all, at the present time, remain standing.

In conversation with Giordano after the official announcement, the POPS’ President sounded proud and cheerful regarding the beautiful music and noble mission met by his orchestra.

“About 13 years ago, I was sitting on the POPS board when they asked if I’d be willing to take it over,” says Giordano. “I had other businesses at the time, but figured I’d see what we could do with it. They asked if I could give it one year to make it happen. And 12 years later, it looks like we made a great go-of-it, succeeding for some time.”

Though Giordano is pleased with all The Philly POPS live programming, he is most gratified by having designed and maintained the Salute series, a showcase whose next performance is Friday, Dec. 2 – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – as a tribute to the military and First Responders with 2,000 free tickets.

“Memorial Day at The Mann, July 3rd POPS at Independence; these free concerts make me proudest….. As we did the turnaround on the POPS, and made it successful, my wife and I became part of the fabric of Philadelphia. We expanded our education programs and our musical series – it was all so gratifying,” says Giordano.

The Philly POPS, like so many others, was slammed by the COVID pandemic, and never fully recovered.

“Last season was the first season outside the pandemic, and sales weren’t robust – which we expected – but even after that into 2022, sales were even less,” Giordano explained. “And they’re not expected to come back, which seems to be the trend with a lot of live entertainment. Not wanting to incur more debt or obligations, we wanted to be proactive. We went to the POKC, our excellent partners, to come up with a program that allows us to finish the season, pay our musicians and staff, and make it so our patrons see one of our best seasons ever.”

One aspect of winding down and closing out The Philly POPS that is fascinating, according to Giordano, if that the POKC is developing a plan to respect and honor the legacy of POPS programming.

“There will be POPS, maybe not performed by the musicians of The Philly POPS, but with the Philadelphia Orchestra. They’ll carry on the tradition. We haven’t gotten to any definitive notions as to my involvement, but I would do anything that I can, and am able to, to ensure the POPS legacy, programming and the music that we provide will continue — in whatever form that may be.”

“For the remainder of our season, every performance will be dedicated to you, our beloved patrons,” Giordano concluded. “We are profoundly grateful for your loyal support that has enabled us to delight audiences and encourage future generations of performers through our POPS in Schools programming. You have helped burnish the legacy of POPS programming in Philadelphia.”

More from our Sister Sites