After breakup with orchestra, Philly Pops ready for solo career

The Philly Pops has announced its upcoming season, and a new address. The orchestra fronted by Peter Nero, featuring popular fare and show tunes, recently split from the Philadelphia Orchestra.

With a Mummers string band to serenade him on Tuesday, Nero walked about four blocks from the Pops’ old home with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Broad Street to its new home at 15th and Walnut streets.

For six years, the Philly Pops had been operated by the orchestra. In October, during bankruptcy proceedings, the two organizations legally parted ways.

“The Pops filed bankruptcy because it was part of the orchestra, and the orchestra filed bankruptcy. So we were dragged into that,” said Frank Giordano, president of the Pops’ parent company, Encore Series. “We’re in the process of filing a reorganizing plan; we’re ready to come out. We’re going to file a joint plan with the orchestra, and waiting for them to resolve some of their issues. All of our issues — and there weren’t many — are resolved.”

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Some of the Pops’ offerings in the 2012-2013 season include “Bond and Beyond,” a program of espionage music; “Philly Soul,” a tribute to Gamble and Huff; and an evening of “Mostly Gershwin.”

Now the Pops has to do its own fundraising, and its own marketing to grow a subscription base. Nero says brand loyalty is what will set the Philly Pops apart from groups in other cities.

“The rest of the country is starting to move away from Pops directors, and bringing in packaged shows. That’s always a gamble,” said Nero. “You’re not building audience loyalty base. With subscribers, they are loyal, and realize they are going to get quality. That’s the name of the game, to have a subscription base.”

After six years under the orchestra’s administration, the Pops is now faced with assembling its own staff. Four full-timers — including marketing and development specialists — will occupy the new office 17 floors above Walnut Street.

None of them plays piano. But there is a shiny black upright in the lobby, for the occasions when Nero stops by for a visit.

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