Meet the New Jersey Pops!
The New Jersey Pops has performed over 500 concerts and has enjoyed phenomenal success since its founding in 1977. Indeed, the Pops has been critically acclaimed as "New Jersey's most popular orchestra".
The orchestra, utilizing from 28 to 70 of the best musicians the New Jersey/New York area has to offer, has played to capacity audiences throughout New Jersey and into New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and other east coast states. In New Jersey, the Pops has performed from Cape May to Sussex and Bergen Counties and has performed at such distinguished concert locations as the Garden State Arts Center, Atlantic City Casino-Hotels, Waterloo Village, and McCarter Theatre in Princeton.
The Pops initially reached out to people in a variety of settings, in 1977 initiating the concept of free-to-the-public concerts in many of the state's major shopping malls. This early exposure gained a loyal and enthusiastic audience, spreading the word about this marvelously talented and entertaining orchestra. Over 25,000 people heard the Pops in an outdoor concert in Brookdale Park in Bloomfield and First Fdelity Bank corporation sponsored by the Pops in 14 outdoor concerts throughout the state. Each was attended by 5,000 to 20,000 people.
The New Jersey Pops has its goal: to bring great music to the people of New Jersey. As a non-profit organization, support has come from sponsors who present the orchestra, through corporate and private contributions, and by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Sandoz Corporation has provided continued financial and in-kind support for development projects and performance activities of the Pops.
The Pops and it's Executive Director, Richard ("Rick") A. Macri, and it's talented Principal Conductor, Michael J. Buglio, believe that music should educate and entertain. The concept of making music exciting and fun is based on creative programming designed to appeal to people everywhere. Maestro Buglio's love of music, his dedication to the Pops, and his superb conducting skills have been the driving force behind the orchestra's success.
Michael J. Buglio, Principal Conductor
The thing that makes Michael Buglio different from most orchestra conductors is his musical philosophy. While always trying to educate new audiences to the joys of great music, Buglio believes that music should be entertaining...and fun. Strongly influenced by the late great Arthur Fielder of the Boston Pops, Buglio follows in maestro's footsteps with a special feeling for the people who listen to his music.
Founded in 1977 by Michael J. Buglio and a distinguished group of New Jersey residents, Maestro Buglio was The Pops' first conductor and continues to this day as both Conductor and Musical Director. A music educator for over 34 years in the Livingston school system, Mike continues to educate as he brings great music to theatres, performing arts centers, corporate and open air venues, schools and houses of worship all accross New Jersey.
The music critic for the Sunday Star Ledger has said that,
"...Founding Director-Conductor Michael J. Bulgio has done for NJ what Arthur Fielder and his Boston Pops did in the Bay State."
The Summit Journal adds that,
"Audiences continually express their joy and delight to Maestro Buglio with standing ovations!"
Richard A. Macri, Executive Director
Richard A. ("Rick") Macri joined the New Jersey Pops in 2003 and has served as the Pops' Executive Director for over 7 years and plays the trumpet in the brass section of the orchestra. As Executive Director Rick handles all of the business aspects and operations of the New Jersey Pops.
Rick has brought a high level of professionalism to the overall management of the New Jersey Pops, particularly to its financial strategic planning and performance. He is also a former officer in the American Federation of Musicians - Local 248 and a former Project Director for the Recording Industries Music Performance Funds and the Film Funds. He is also a member of AFM Locals 16 and 802. His wide connections in the New Jersey music community have been a great asset to the New Jersey Pops in recruiting musicians and key personnel. He has been playing the trumpet since the age of 10 and has studied with Deborah Kirschenbaum-Salama, Enrico Cecilli, John Wilder, and William Vacchiano (former principal trumpet, NY Philharmonic).
Rick is Chief Operating Officer and a Managing Partner of Macpin Associates, Inc., a business performance improvement-consulting firm he started in 1992. Formerly with IBM where he served for 27 years, Rick is an acknowledged expert in management consulting and organizational effectiveness and efficiency, with several Fortune 500 firms as clients. He received a degree in Business Management from Syracuse University. He has served on the boards of other non-profit organizations including the Junior Achievement of NYC (trustee), the Ramsey Junior Football Association (president), the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra (treasurer), and the Ramapo Wind Symphony (trustee). Rick is a native of Brooklyn, NY, and has lived in New Jersey since 1983.
Keaton Douglas, Principal Vocalist, Soprano
As a soloist with the New Jersey Pops Orchestra, Concert Band, and Swing Band, Keaton has performed to numerous sold out crowds at the PNC Bank Arts Center. She and the Pops have performed at Atlantic City’s Tropicana Hotel and Casino. She concertizes regularly with various orchestras, performing operatic works, as well as the classical Broadway repertoire, including all the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, and Rodgers and Hart.
Equally adept at a Verdi aria with full orchestra, a jazz ballad with piano, a swinging chart with an 18 piece Big Band or a Polish folk song accompanied by a Polka band, Ms. Douglas has wowed tens of thousands in various venues throughout her career, including Senators, Congressmen and the President of the United States himself.
Even though Keaton is an accomplished soprano soloist with many sold out performances to her credit, she is equally well known as a swing and Big Band singer. She has performed at the last two presidential inaugurations with the inimitable Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, alongside the talented Drew Carey, and country singer, Linda Davis. She has appeared with the Lombardo band and with Al Pierson, its leader, at Virginia’s Busch Gardens, and in Las Vegas at both the SunCoast Hotel and Casino and the Orleans Hotel and Casino. "Keaton was the featured vocalist for Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians this past New Year's Eve when they performed at the magnificent Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino in Santa Fe, New Mexico." She has appeared at Birdland , New York’s premiere jazz club, Trumpet’s in Montclair, and Atlantic City’s Tropicana Hotel and Casino. She has appeared with Jerry Vale, Al Martino, Julius LaRosa, Buddy Greco, Rio Clemente and Bob Newhart. She has had the privilege of opening for the great Nancy Wilson.
For the past 12 years, Keaton has taught vocal and performance technique to both aspiring and accomplished singers of all ages. She has two voice studios, one in West Caldwell and one in Layton, New Jersey.
John Hammel, Principal Vocalist, Tenor
John has performed at the Off-Broadway venues St. Peters and John Houseman Theatres and The Producers Showcase, as well as many smaller theaters throughout New York City. He has also performed at numerous venues in N.J. most especially in many shows at the Darress Theatre. A founder member of the board of The Enchanted Players, Inc., John appeared in many of their initial projects.
He has also performed in numerous operatic and musical productions throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York as well as Pittsburgh and Baltimore, most notably at with the Northeast Lyric Opera, Scranton Opera IV, and New Jersey State Opera companies. He has appeared at, both in recital and many times with the New Jersey Pops Orchestra, at Carnegie Hall in N.Y.C., the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, The Cape May Arts Center, The Tropicana in Atlantic City, The Watchung Arts Center, Reese Auditorium in Sparta, Cipriani’s, Danny’s Skylight Room and the Plaza Hotel in N.Y.C. the Community Theatre in Morristown.
John was a 2006 Perry Award winner for his part in Annette Winter's Broadway and Beyond at The Darress Theatre.
John recently recorded the lead role of Laius in composer Sam Belich’s opera Laius and Chrysippus. He also was recently engaged at Nevada Opera in the dual role of Aristeus/Pluto in their production of Offenbach’s Orpheus In The Underworld in the U.S. premiere of a new translation.
Carmen Artis, Vocalist, Soprano
Carmen Artis studied formally at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD, and continued private studies with internationally renowned mezzo-soprano, Antonia Kitsopolous. Her extensive credits in opera, oratorio and musical theatre include the New Jersey State Opera, Northwest Lyric, and Scranton IV Opera, as well as with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Andre Previn and Michael Tilson Thomas.
She has been a repeated guest soloist with the New Jersey Pops and has performed Off-Broadway both at Saint Peter’s Theatre and the Westbeth Theatre Complex. Among her musical theatre performances, she has especially enjoyed playing Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. Her specialty program, Spirituals to Ragtime to Jazz, was recorded live in early May of 1997, in a tour that included the Watchung Arts Center and Morristown’s Bickford Theatre. She and her husband, John Hammel, have performed their program, "Great American Songbook", with such jazz notables as Regan Ryzuk and Rio Clemente in their tireless efforts to promote great American composers of popular song.