New York Pops Takes Center Stage

At Carnegie Hall with a lineup of female composers.

Women have always been huge contributors to the arts, from celebrated costume designers, to award-winning writers, directors and producers. This past Friday the New York Pops chose to honor the musical side of the equation with its concert Women of Notes: In Dedication to Female Composers and Lyricists. The New York Pops has a solid track record of presenting top notch performances, but this concert stood out because of how well the selected composers and lyricists were honored and how beautifully featured guests Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolf performed, in addition to special guest appearances by composers Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Georgia Stitt and Shania Taub.

Typical programming for the New York Pops combines classic show tunes, along with some lesser-known classical arrangements, but in this Women of Notes tribute, everything seemed very familiar. Selections from classic musicals like Mary Rogers’s Once Upon a Mattress, Betty Comden’s On the Town and Peter Pan to more contemporary hits like Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” were all part of the repertoire for the evening. There were also performances by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, singing “Chasing the Sun” alongside Betsy Wolfe, after having sung “She Used to Be Mine” from her hit Broadway show Waitress, and Ingrid Michaelson sang her hit “Miss America” accompanied by Betsy Wolf. Writers Georgia Stitt and Shania Taub introduced new works to the audience, each accompanying Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe on the piano, respectively.

With such a wide range of musical genres being presented, it was amazing to see and hear how effortlessly the New York Pops handled the repertoire from one song to the next. The arrangements and instrumentations worked well with each of the guest artists, and numerous selections received standing ovations. It also appeared the orchestra members were having fun with the material too, with conductor Steven Reineke noticeably dancing on more than one song. Having performers like Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson perform their own songs was an experience in itself, but especially when considering these two performers are at the beginning of their careers, as compared to some of the other honorees who have been working in their fields for many years.

Paying tribute to so many special artists in one night is something the New York Pops does very well, and much credit should be given for programming an evening honoring these often under-acknowledged contributors to the art form. May the Pops continue on this important aspect of their overall mission, and I would encourage you to make a point of attending one of their upcoming concerts — you won’t be disappointed.


The New York Pops in concert at Carnegie Hall on November 17, 2017. Steven Reineke, music director and conductor; guest artists: Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe; special guests: Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, Georgia Stitt, and Shaina Taub.

Cover: (l. to r.) Sara Bareilles and Betsy Wolfe (in the foreground) with Steven Reineke conducting the New York Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; photo: Richard Termine.

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