Take the Holidays, Christmas Season with Harlem Nutcracker from the Philly Pops Jazz Orchestra

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – Prepare to step into the season with the sounds of an annual holiday classic that is sure to get you on your mind.

The Philly POPs Jazz Orchestra presents the Harlem Nutcracker at the Annenberg Center.

“It was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. It’s based on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, ”says Terell Stafford, conductor and artistic director of Jazz for the Philly Pops.

And just like the 1960s album, the Penn Live Arts show will feature all the favorites of ballet sheet music as well as a lot of wit.

“You hear the opening, you’ll hear Sugar Rum Cherry, you’ll hear Volga Vouty,” Stafford says.

“It’s jazz, and it swings. It’s a lot of fun,” said Stafford, “I don’t think The Nutcracker has been performed on stage for probably two years.”

It is a holiday tradition that has been put on hold because of the pandemic.

“It was really tough. So getting together now is extremely festive,” said Stafford.

The show will also celebrate jazz legend Charlie Parker.

“Who’s the one behind Bebop,” Stafford says.

Three best saxophonists will join the group.

“It’s Dick Oatts, Jaleel Shaw, then the legendary Charles McPherson,” says Stafford.

Stafford is also an accomplished trumpeter.

“I had a gig with a guy named Bobby Watson and that was the start of my jazz career,” Stafford says.

He has taught at Temple for 25 years.

“I am the director of jazz studies and the chair in instrumental studies,” says Stafford.

And he led the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia which merged with Philly Pops.

“The Philly Pops brought us into their family,” Stafford says.

By passing on the pearls of wisdom, he learned from some of the greatest masters of music.

“It’s about being together. And bringing joy this time of year,” Stafford says.

The Harlem Nutcracker will perform on December 18 at the Zellerbach Theater in University City.

Philly Pops Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia Holiday Celebration: The Harlem Nutcracker | Facebook | Instagram
Penn Live Arts, Zellerbach Theater
Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
December 18, 2021

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Henry R. Wright