The Philly POPS Presents Rufus Wainwright will take place at the Kimmel Center on January 19th. The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus (PGMC) will join Wainwright and the POPS on Wainwright’s popular version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
In addition to the concert, the PGMC will perform a pre-show concert in the Kimmel Center lobby at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
The POPS has also partnered with William Way LGBT Community Center for an after-show dessert reception. This event will feature another performance by the PGMC. Proceeds from the reception will benefit William Way, an organization that advocates for the well-being and acceptance of sexual and gender minorities through service, recreational, educational, and cultural programming.
In a telephone interview, Karen Corbin, vice president of Philly POPS, explained how the show and its related events all came together.
“I got an email from (Wainwright’s) representation quite a while back and I thought (he) would be a perfect person (to work with). He hadn’t been into town lately… and I thought this would be a great thing to try,” said Corbin.
As is the procedure with all their guest artists, the artist sends a suggested repertoire that is reviewed by POPS’ Music Director Michael Krajewski.
“We made a couple of suggestions, and he sent the repertoire back with those suggestions incorporated,” said Corbin. “I know that he’s going to perform several pieces that he’s most famous for — ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Hallelujah’ being the primary ones and then his own song ‘Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.’”
In the event press release Wainwright is quoted as saying that there’s “no better instrument than an orchestra to help illustrate” his music.
Though the POPS often work with different choruses, it will be their first time working with the PGMC, a 150-member group.
“I love the idea of working with a different chorus,” said Corbin. “It kind of fit with a lot of other things that we do.”
As for the partnership with William Way, Corbin explained how the dessert reception materialized.
“(Wainwright) has a whole side to his career where he does partnerships with charitable organizations in a variety of the cities where he’s touring. We gave him some choices as to who he might want to partner with here and he chose… William Way. So we met with (them) and put together a dessert reception,” said Corbin.
It became a natural fit to invite PGMC to perform at the dessert reception, which Wainwright is scheduled to attend, as well as the pre-show concert and on “Hallelujah.”
“The PGMC is honored to be part of this concert,” said Joseph J. Buches, the group’s artistic director. “Not only will it be (our) first time performing with Rufus, but it is our first time performing with the Philly POPS. We are so looking forward to it!”
Buches added: “It’s a wonderful partnership (with William Way) and we are very happy that they will benefit from this event. (They) do such wonderful work in the LGBTQ community.”
Though the POPS have worked with other guest vocalists, of late they have typically been Broadway artists. Corbin expects that their programming will include more concerts featuring the caliber of Wainwright in the future.
“We’ve expanded the number of performances we do each year quite a bit over the last couple of years and as you expand you’re looking for different ways to reach different audiences and still give them a high-quality experience,” said Corbin. “I think that as we march forward in exploring history and get into the rock ’n roll era in the ’60s and ’70s and then to millennial talent like Rufus you’ll see bigger names that are outside just the Broadway world.”
Corbin mentioned that the POPS’ 2018-2019 season will be announced on Feb. 14 and could include some more high-profile acts in their upcoming season.