The Pops Orchestra Heads Into "A Season of Celebrities"

The community orchestra offers pop, classical and jazz concerts featuring well-known names.

By Kay Kipling August 24, 2017


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The Pops season begins in November.


The Pops, Bradenton and Sarasota’s community orchestra, bills its upcoming 2017-18 schedule of concerts as “A Season of Celebrities”—and those celebrity musicians are ones with local ties.

In the season opener, Florida-based entertainer Bobby Palermo (who’s got a following in his own right) summons up the personality of pop star-songwriter Neil Diamond. He’ll be performing Diamond hits from “Song Sung Blue” to “Sweet Caroline,” followed by a tribute to America’s veterans that includes the singer’s “Coming to America.” A partnership with the Military Officers Association of America’s Sarasota Chapter, “Neil Diamond’s America” celebrates Veterans Day with performances Nov. 12 at Riverview Performing Arts Center and Nov. 13 at Neel Performing Arts Center.

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Neil Diamond tribute artist Bobby Palermo


Palermo’s followed by locally based soprano Jenny Kim-Godfrey, a Korean-American coloratura who has concertized throughout the United States, Canada, South Korea and Italy. She’s been a featured soloist with numerous ensembles, including the New York Summer Music Festival and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and she won both the St. Petersburg Opera Idol and Sun City Center Opera Idol competitions in 2014. But beyond her time on the stage, Kim-Godfrey is also a voice teacher currently on the faculty at Manatee School for the Arts as director of the choral program and chair of the music department. She’ll ring in the holidays with “Holiday Popera,” Dec. 10 (Riverview) and 11 (Neel), delivering traditional carols as well as opera arias from Verdi, Mozart and more.

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Soprano Jenny Kim-Godfrey


A diva of a very different kind is up next, with Sarasota-based singer-actress Audrey Landers presenting “From Dallas with Love.” Yes, Dallas watchers will remember Landers as Afton Cooper from that popular TV show, but she’s also appeared on dozens of other programs, from Fantasy Island to MacGyver to Murder She Wrote, as well as appearing as Val in the film version of A Chorus Line. She’s also sung with Billy Crystal, Rich Little and the late Glen Campbell. Landers will deliver some of her favorites from the Great American Songbook, Feb. 11 (Riverview) and 12 (Neel), just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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Audrey Landers


And rounding out the season is Venice’s own Dick Hyman, a legend of piano jazz with a career that stretches back decades and also includes composing and arranging movie scores for a slew of films, often at the behest of director Woody Allen. This member of the Jazz Hall of Fame (and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters 2017 fellow) brings a lifetime of jazz knowledge to “Hyman in the House,” March 25 (Riverview) and 26 (Neel).

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Venice-based pianist Dick Hyman


Conductor for all of the Pops concerts is Dr. Robyn L. Bell. To purchase tickets, visit the; and for more info call (941) 926-7677.

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