by Jarrett Hoffman
This weekend with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra is a case study in the breadth of sounds contained under the umbrella of “pops.”
On Friday, January 21 at 8:00 pm at Playhouse Square, that term means the music of a classic band outfitted in a mix of rock and orchestral clothes, as conductor Brent Havens, vocalist Tony Vincent, and a full rock band join the Pops to celebrate “The Music of Queen.”
And on Saturday, January 22 at 8:00 pm at Severance Music Center, it means the singular jazz stylings of a trumpeter/vocalist with plenty of virtuosity and charisma to spare, as showcased in “All that Jazz with Byron Stripling,” a program led by music director Carl Topilow. Get tickets for those events here and here, and read the Pops’ COVID-19 safety policies here.
That kind of variety is a big part of the job for both Topilow and the ensemble. “We’re fortunate,” the conductor (below) said in an interview on Zoom. “Piano, bass, drums, brass — they’re sort of the core of our orchestra, like the pitcher and catcher of a baseball team. And so many of them are experienced jazz players, which puts us at a huge advantage in concerts like these.”