South Jersey Pops Orchestra continues 50th year celebration in 2022

Its holiday concert marks the first year back since November, 2019

Special to The Sun/The Sun: The South Jersey Pops Orchestra performs its last in person performance, “Yesterday: The Music of Pops Past” in November 2019 before returning in person one year later.

In November 2019, the Burlington County-based SJ Pops Orchestra began a celebration for its 50th concert season with the first of a three-part concert series that reflected on the past, present and future of music. The concert was titled “Yesterday: The Music of Pops Past,” and played a variety of old music, old movie themes and old broadway songs.

Two years later, SJ Pops Orchestra reunited and continued their 50th celebration with their holiday concert, “Solstice” on Sunday Dec. 12 at Lenape High School in Medford.

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“We figured this was a good opportunity to celebrate our return to live music and sort of our way out of this mess, while also reflecting on that which we’ve lost,” explained Rob Bradshaw, Haddonfield resident and the orchestra’s music director and conductor. “The concept being that it’s winter time and we’re celebrating the beginning of our seasonal winter, but also the end of our metaphoric winter.”

The concert featured songs that paid tribute to the concept of sun and blue skies, like the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” in addition to other emotional pieces.

During the earlier days of the pandemic, the orchestra put together two virtual concerts by recording individual musicians playing at home and editing it together at the end, but Bradshaw shared it wasn’t the same. 

This past summer, the orchestra began rehearsing in person for the first time in over a year.

“It felt like I was getting a family back,” Bradshaw said. “ … Music has a way of helping us relate to our emotions that other things really don’t, and getting together and playing music together again, it was sublime. It was really neat, and I felt it; the whole orchestra felt it.”

Even so, their rehearsals were specific to their instrumentation to keep with social distancing guidelines; brass and woodwind players played together and the strings played together indoors. Bradshaw hoped to tell the story during the concert through a few pieces that involved only one section or another.

In the new year, the SJ Pops Orchestra will continue its celebrations of its 50th concert season with two more concerts, one on March 13 called “Now is the Time: The Music of Pops Present” which will feature songs from Marvel movies, Star Wars and some songs that are currently on broadway and another on May 15 called “A Beautiful Tomorrow.” 

“We’re celebrating the music of the future–not really the music, but the music makers of the future,” Bradshaw explained. “It’s a tribute to kids and their teachers.” 

“A Beautiful Tomorrow” will feature a collaboration with ChildrenSong, a youth choir based in Haddonfield.

To learn more about the SJ Pops Orchestra, visit


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