If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | January 2017


2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. While Erich Kunzel, the founder of the Pops, had already been conducting “8 O’Clock Pops” concerts for many years (originally at the request of the legendary CSO Music Director Max Rudolf), it was in 1977 that the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was officially established and began its tenure as a premier recording ensemble. Since then, we’ve continued playing popular classical repertoire, as well as hits from Broadway, films, jazz, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll and the Great American Song Book. We’ve never looked back!

We’ve also had the luxury of close relationships with many of the most illustrious arrangers in the business, who are able to take just about any song from any genre and clothe it in orchestral pops splendor. This means we can perform with anyone, and tailor-make an orchestral accompaniment that will be second-tonone. Over the years, the Pops has performed with singers, dancers, comedians, actors, circus artists, and even a cheetah named Sahara. I could fill the next couple pages with a complete list, but some of the elite include Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, Cab Calloway, Kristin Chenoweth, Aretha Franklin, Jason Alexander, Boyz II Men, John Williams, and of course, Rosemary Clooney. We’ve also been fortunate enough to make recordings with such legends as Katharine Hepburn, Doc Severinsen, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Rosanne Cash.

But enough name-dropping; the point is, big stars want to collaborate with the Pops because there is nothing like the thrill of performing with our 90 world-class musicians, making extraordinary music together. Our energized and enthusiastic audiences are the cherry on top of the sundae. Cincinnati is one of the great music towns in America and the Pops is its heartbeat.

This month we host two artists who easily make our “elite” list; each has made indelible contributions to America’s musical ethos and both are making their Pops debut. First, for one night only, singersongwriter Melissa Etheridge brings her Grammywinning hits to the Taft Theatre stage with the Pops. Her bluesy vocals and folk rock songwriting weave seamlessly into the orchestral tapestry. On our second concert program this month we welcome the legendary singer/songwriter Smokey Robinson. As one of the artists who created the “Motown sound,” Smokey is responsible for more pages of the “Great American Soul-Book” than just about anyone. With an uncanny knack for melodic hooks and memorable lyrics, he’s cut hit after hit in the studio, or passed on his brilliantly crafted songs to the biggest stars of the last three generations of pop singers. It will be an extraordinary event—worthy of a 40th anniversary—for the Pops to share the stage with this amazing artist.

Happy New Year, indeed!