Performance Friday, December 16, 2011 | 8 PM

The New York Pops

John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey Wish You a Swingin' Christmas

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
The couple described by The New York Times as “a musical match made in heaven” swing seasonal favorites from the era when Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Rosemary Clooney ruled the airwaves.


  • The New York Pops
    Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor
  • John Pizzarelli, Guest Artist
  • Jessica Molaskey, Guest Artist
  • Essential Voices USA
    Judith Clurman, Music Director and Conductor



    The New York Pops

    The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Led by Music Director Steven Reineke, the orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall, enjoying one of its highest subscription renewal rates. The New York Pops was founded by Skitch Henderson in 1983 with a mission to create greater public awareness and appreciation of America's rich musical heritage. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall, The New York Pops tours throughout the world and gives free concerts in New York City parks. The New York Pops' extensive education programs allow thousands of public schoolchildren to participate in concert and music-making experiences at Carnegie Hall and in schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

    Steven Reineke

    Steven Reineke's boundless enthusiasm and exceptional artistry have made him one of the nation's most sought-after pops conductors, composers, and arrangers. In recognition of his successful leadership, The New York Pops has extended his contract through the 2015-2016 season. In addition to conducting the orchestra's annual Carnegie Hall concert series, Mr. Reineke leads concert tours, recordings, and nationwide telecasts, including the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular on NBC. New York's only permanent and professional symphonic pops orchestra, The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States.

    Mr. Reineke is the newly appointed principal pops conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra and begins his first season in 2011-2012. In addition, he serves as principal pops conductor of the Long Beach and Modesto symphony orchestras. Previously, he was associate conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, where for 15 years he served as a composer, arranger, and conducting protégé of the late celebrated pops conductor Erich Kunzel.

    Mr. Reineke's recent guest conducting appearances include the orchestras of Houston, Toronto, Detroit, Indianapolis, Baltimore, and Edmonton. He returns to the Boston Pops and The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2011 and debuts with The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center. He made his Hollywood Bowl debut in 2007 with the multifaceted entertainer Wayne Brady, and returned to the Hollywood Bowl in 2008 to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition, Mr. Reineke conducted, arranged, and orchestrated the music for Mr. Brady's orchestral show, and played the same role in his collaboration with rock legend Peter Frampton.

    As the creator of more than 100 orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke's work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. Mr. Reineke is also an established symphonic composer. His works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America, with recent performances by the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics. In August 2008, his Sun Valley Festival Fanfare debuted with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony to commemorate the opening of the orchestra's new pavilion. In 2005, his Festival Te Deum and Swan's Island Sojourn were performed by the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras, respectively. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C. L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands around the world.

    A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City.


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    John Pizzarelli

    A world-renowned jazz guitarist and singer, John Pizzarelli is part of the "First Family of Cool," along with his wife, singer-actress Jessica Molaskey, and his father, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli. Touchstones for John's work include performers like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and João Gilberto, and songs by such composers as Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, James Taylor, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In the tradition of these artists, John has established himself as one of the prime interpreters of the Great American Songbook and beyond, bringing to his work the cool jazz flavor of his brilliant guitar playing and singing.

    John's early RCA albums include Dear Mr. Cole, P.S. Mr. Cole, and John Pizzarelli Meets The Beatles. He signed with Telarc International in 1999, recording a string of successful CDs that include Dear Mr. Sinatra, the Grammy-nominated With a Song in My Heart, and 2010's Rockin' in Rhythm, the singer-guitarist's first Duke Ellington recording. John co-hosts Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli, his nationally syndicated radio program, with his wife, Jessica Molaskey.

    John's instructional DVD, Exploring Jazz Guitar, is available from Hal Leonard. He received the 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal Jazz Festival, joining a select group of past winners that includes Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, and Harry Connick, Jr. John continues to tour throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and Japan, performing classic pop, jazz, and swing, while setting the standard for stylish modern jazz.


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  • Jessica Molaskey

    A critically acclaimed actress and vocalist whose singing voice has been compared to Peggy Lee, Chris Connor, k.d. lang, and even Chet Baker, Jessica Molaskey released her most recent CD, A Kiss to Build a Dream On, on the Arbors Jazz label. Her previous CD, Sitting in Limbo, debuted on the Billboard jazz chart in May 2007. Jessica has sung in concert at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has also performed at the Montreal Jazz festival, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel, and the Café Carlyle, among other venues.

    Jessica is a veteran of a dozen Broadway shows, including the revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George, which was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 2008. She has also appeared at Lincoln Center in A Man of No Importance, written by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty; Parade, directed by Hal Prince; Dream; The Who'sTommy; Crazy for You; Les Misérables; City of Angels; Chess; Cats; and Oklahoma!

    Jessica has premiered music written by Ricky Ian Gordon, Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa, and Stephen Sondheim. She has written songs for almost a dozen recordings, including the critically acclaimed "Greed," part of a commission for Audra McDonald's Seven Deadly Sins at Carnegie Hall. Ms. McDonald performed Jessica's composition "Cradle and All"-written with Ricky Ian Gordon-for Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, and recorded it for her 2006 CD Build a Bridge. Jessica co-hosts the nationally syndicated radio program Radio Deluxe with John Pizzarelli, on which she and John have interviewed such stars as Tony Danza, Liza Minnelli, and Regis Philbin.

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  • Essential Voices USA

    Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA (EVUSA) promotes the love of music and the art of ensemble singing. The group has a flexible roster of professional singers, auditioned volunteers, and high-school students who perform a wide range of musical genres and styles. The size of the group varies according to the musical needs of each project. EVUSA is currently in residence with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, and produces its own classical concerts, workshops, and recordings. During the 2010-2011 season, EVUSA participated in a Bernstein celebration at Symphony Space, performed world premieres in its series The Composer Speaks with Shulamit Ran at Hebrew Union College, and performed as part of The New York Pops Stephen Sondheim celebration at Carnegie Hall. In addition, EVUSA recorded Mr. President, a choral cycle featured on National Public Radio with music ranging from Milton Babbitt to Jason Robert Brown. Engagements in 2011-2012 include three appearances with The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall as well as a pair of The Composer Speaks workshops, including a birthday tribute to Walt Whitman that features music by Joshua Schmidt. Most recently, EVUSA was featured at the 2011 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting. The ensemble is committed to improving children's lives through music; during the 2011-2012 season, it will invite students from Mt. Olives High School in Flanders, New Jersey, and the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music to join it for various performances.

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"Sleigh Ride" (Parish / Anderson)
John Pizzarelli

The Program

The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the spirit of the season, and to be reminded of those that are dear to you. With that in mind, I am thrilled to present this year’s holiday celebration, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey Wish You a Swingin’ Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas albums when I was growing up was Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas by the incomparable first lady of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. I still listen to it to this day. I wanted to create a holiday program with some of that same jazz flair, so I invited the incredibly talented John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey to join The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall this year.

I met John in 2005, during my first year as principal arranger for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. That year, John joined the orchestra on a Telarc recording of my arrangement of “Silver Bells.” It is such a thrill to be working together again and to be joined by his wife, Jessica. I’m also happy to welcome back the fantastic Essential Voices USA chorus, under the direction of Judith Clurman.

Tonight you will hear fresh takes on many holiday classics, from a gospel version of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” to a Ravel-inspired version of “The Little Drummer Boy,” re-titled “Little Bolero Boy.” In addition, inspired by Carnegie Hall’s yearlong focus on Tchaikovsky, we commissioned a new arrangement entitled “A Klezmer Nutcracker.” I thought it would be fun to put a new spin on the composer’s timeless ballet score. From all of us at The New York Pops, we wish you heartfelt Season’s Greetings and a joyful New Year!
Program Notes
This performance is part of The New York Pops, and All About Pops.