PITTSBURGH, PA—Beginning a new chapter in its legendary Pops series, Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, today announced the appointment of Byron Stripling as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, holding the Henry and Elsie Hillman Principal Pops Conductor Chair. This is only the second time in the orchestra’s history that a Principal Pops Conductor has been named. The announcement was made at a special event in Pittsburgh hosted by PNC, title sponsor of the Pops series.
“Byron Stripling is an exceptional musician, showman and orchestra leader whose infectious joy for making and sharing music has made him one of the most sought-after artists with Pops orchestras. We are thrilled to bring his artistic vision into a powerful partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. “Byron’s incredible jazz chops will also open new opportunities for the orchestra and the audience. We know that Pittsburgh will find magic in this new Pops era.”
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor is a steward of the symphony’s popular (or, “Pops”) programming, which presents outstanding music from diverse genres including Broadway, movies, jazz, rock and soul, often with popular soloists. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s first Principal Pops Conductor was the great Marvin Hamlisch, who was appointed in 1994 and held that position until his untimely death in 2012. Under title sponsorship from The PNC Foundation, the PNC Pops series this season includes programs that explore the music of Paul Shaffer, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles’ Abbey Road, Bugs Bunny animation, Broadway blockbuster hits and doo wop. The seasonal favorite Highmark Holiday Pops is also part of Pops programming.
“I thank the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for humbling me with the auspicious opportunity to make music with you as your Principal Pops Conductor. This orchestra’s inspiring, heartfelt performances have uplifted me and millions of others with its passion, humanity and soul,” said Byron Stripling. “I’m mindful that with this legacy comes a great responsibility. I will use my podium and the music we perform as a delivery system to uplift this community and open even more hearts to the joyous sound of this orchestra.”
“We are delighted to welcome Byron Stripling to Pittsburgh and to see him take up the baton as leader of the PNC Pops series. The PNC Foundation has enthusiastically supported the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for many decades, and has served as the title sponsor of the Pops series since 2001,” said Sally McCrady, chair and president of the PNC Foundation. “A great city needs a great orchestra, and PNC has continued to invest in the Symphony because we understand the local economic, social and civic impacts that a thriving arts and culture community has.”
Stripling is expected to make his debut as Principal Pops Conductor in October, 2020, and to conduct three program weekends during the 2020-2021 season which will be announced in early February 2020.
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PNC Pops concerts are made possible by title sponsorship support from PNC and additional support from the Pennsylvania Tourism Office. Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Highmark Holiday Pops concerts are made possible by title sponsorship support from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.