'S WONDERFUL! 'S GERSHWIN! | The Philly Pops


Byron Stripling, Conductor

Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for Performing Arts

300 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
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May 13-15, 2022
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Byron Stripling, conductor

Allison Blackwell, vocalist

Ryan Silverman, vocalist 

Nikki Renee Daniels, vocalist

Charlie Albright, guest artist

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!

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. "Rhapsody in Blue" was the signature piece of the POPS’ founding Music Director Peter Nero—with this being the first performance of the iconic piece since his retirement.

Guest Artists
Byron Stripling

Byron Stripling


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

Nikki Renée Daniels, vocalist


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 CDBaby.com. For more information please visit nikkireneedaniels.com. @nikkireneesings

Ryan Silverman

Ryan Silverman, Vocalist


Noted for his performances which “stand in memory” (​The New York Times​), multipleDrama Desk nominee ​RYAN SILVERMAN​ has been praised as the “smoothest, mostassured bari-tenor, leading-man theatre voice at the moment” (​Playbill.com​). Silvermanreceived a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actor for the role of Terry Connor in ​SideShow​ on Broadway, and has starred as Raoul in ​The Phantom of the Opera​ and as BillyFlynn in ​CHICAGO​.

Silverman has also received Drama Desk and Drama League nominations for hisperformance as Giorgio in CSC’s 2013 production of ​Passion​, which the ​New YorkTimes​ praised for its “risk-taking, unconditional emotional commitment.” Additionally, hehas appeared as Sir Lancelot in ​Camelot​ at the Kennedy Center, in the Théâtre duChâtelet’s acclaimed production of ​Passion​ opposite Natalie Dessay, as Tony in theOlivier-nominated 2008 West End production of ​West Side Story​, and in the premiere ofDelaware Theater Company’s new musical, ​A Sign of The Times​.

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

Other credits include ​Cry-Baby​​on Broadway, ​Finian’s Rainbow​ (Irish RepertoryTheater), and New York City Opera’s ​The Most Happy Fella​.​ He recently made his debutat 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), ​SweeneyTodd​ (Anthony​), Forever Plaid​ (Smudge), and ​Blood Brothers​ (Eddie Lyons). Silvermanhas 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​. www.ryansilverman.com

Instagram: @ryansilverman

Allison Blackwell, vocalist


"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 www.allisonblackwell.com. 

Charlie Albright

Charlie Albright, Piano


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.  Recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and Gilmore Young Artist Award, Albright won the Ruhr Klavier Festival Young Artist Award presented by Marc-André Hamelin (Germany) and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.  In addition to performing, Albright is sought after as a speaker, masterclass instructor, teacher, and competition judge.  His debut commercial recording, Vivace, has sold thousands of copies worldwide and the first of a 3-part Schubert Series of live, all-Schubert recordings was released in 2017. Charlie Albright breaks the "classical" rules of music by connecting with audiences like no other. Through his music, speaking, and unique improvisations that bring music to life, he crosses all genres...and makes it fun. 

Albright regularly appears at major concert halls, festivals, and with artists of all genres worldwide.  In 2019, he was the guest artist at the Isaac Stern Auditorium main stage of Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Leon Botstein, and made his return appearances at the 2019 Bergen International Festival in Norway, where he performed a sold-out solo recital and was given the honor of performing the festival’s traditional yearly concert of the Grieg Piano Concerto at Grieg Concert Hall with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. 

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. 

Albright’s compositions and improvisations have been likened to “the great Romantic-era composer-pianists” by Classical Source and have been praised as “thrilling” by the DC Metro Theatre Arts.  The Philadelphia Inquirer raved that he “brought the art of classical-music improvisation to a new level.” 

A firm believer in education, Albright founded the Charlie Albright Scholarship and Charlie Albright Piano in collaboration with the Centralia College Foundation in his hometown. The Scholarship provides financial aid to music students, and money was raised to purchase and maintain a new 9-foot Steinway Piano for the college’s Corbet Hall. 

Winner of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts and named one of the “15 Most Interesting Seniors,” Albright was also named Artist-in-Residence for Harvard University’s Leverett House, a position last filled by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Albright’s numerous awards include First Prize in both Solo and Ensemble categories at the 2006 New York National Piano Competition; First Prize and all other awards offered at the 2006 Eastman International Piano Competition; Third Prize at the 2007 Hilton Head International Piano Competition; Semi-Finalist Award and Best Performance of a Work by Liszt in Stage I at the 2008 Sydney International Piano Competition; and the Vendome Virtuoso Prize and the Elizabeth Leonskaya Special Award at the 2009 Vendome Prize International Piano Competition. 

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. For the latest information, please visit CharlieAlbright.com and Facebook.com/CharlieAlbrightPianist. 

“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,’”
—guest conductor Byron Stripling