This weekend, the Philly Pops will welcome its new music director-designate.
Michael Krajewski will officially take over the podium from the orchestra’s founding conductor, Peter Nero, in the fall. This weekend, Krajewski will guest-conduct the ensemble through a program of Beatles songs.
It will be the first time the Philly Pops has ever had a guest conductor.
Nero, who led the Philly Pops for almost 35 years, will step down from the Pops at the end of the season, following a contract dispute during the Pops’ bankruptcy proceedings last year. During all those years, Nero conducted every performance.
“It might be odd at first, but I’m not that concerned about it,” said Krajewski of initiating a guest-conductor policy.
Krajewski was hired to lead the Philly Pops without ever having sat in its driver’s seat, but he is not unknown in the Pops world. He continues to be the principal conductor of the Houston and Atlanta Pops symphonies; last summer, he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center.
“I don’t intend to do every concert while I’m music director,” said Krajewski. “I will be doing most of the concerts, but each season will have other conductors. I think that’s healthy for the musicians and the community to mix it up with this kind of variety.”
Before he officially becomes music director, Krajewski will guest-conduct once more, while the ensemble is still called “Peter Nero and the Philly Pops,” during next month’s program of James Bond themes. Next season he has programmed concerts featuring the music of Simon and Garfunkel, the scores of John Williams, and Marvin Hamlisch hits.