Scroll down to take a journey from the past to the present.
Atlanta Pops Orchestra is Founded
July 22, 1945
Albert Coleman founds his Atlanta Pops Orchestra. The first concert is broadcast live from Emory University’s Glenn Memorial Hall by WSB Radio.
Atlanta Pop Concerts at the Fox
January 1, 1947
Through the combined efforts of Mayor William B. Hartsfield and the general council, which matched a sum of money furnished by the American Federation of Musicians through a grant from the Music Performance Trust Fund of the Recording Industry, and through the cooperation of Wilby-Kincey Theatres, operators of the Fox Theatre, “Atlanta Pops” concerts are made available to the public free of charge for close to a decade.
Featured Guest Artists
September 1, 1947
Singer Janey Miller (“Miss Atlanta” 1946), pianist Billy Schatten, and other Georgia artists collaborate with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at their free concerts at the Fox Theater in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, leading to packed concert halls and critical acclaim.
Chastain Park Amphitheatre
January 1, 1952
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the opening of the Chastain Park Amphitheatre. Atlanta’s morning paper, “The Constitution” features a front page picture of the event with the headline “Greatest Throng in Atlanta Concert History Fill Amphitheatre to capacity to hear the Atlanta Pops.” The city’s evening paper, “The Atlanta Journal” features a picture and story, with the headline, “9000 turn out for Amphitheatre Concert.”
National Bank of Georgia
February 1, 1961
A special telecast, produced in conjunction with Albert Coleman and featuring the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, is held for the opening celebration for the National Bank of Georgia Building at Five Points.
THE PHOENIX at Chastain Park
March 1, 1961
Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield commissions Albert Coleman to produce the city’s Centennial, “THE PHOENIX” at Chastain Park. The production, scripted by Elmo Ellis, includes a cast of hundreds backed by the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
The Atlanta Marriott
January 1, 1965
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the opening celebration for the Atlanta Marriott.
WAGA’s New Facility
January 1, 1966
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the opening celebration of WAGA’s new facility on Briarcliff Road.
Sears Building in Buckhead
February 1, 1966
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the opening celebration for the Sears Building in Buckhead.
Georgia Education Association Centennial
January 1, 1967
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops in a production of “Look Mrs. Yancy, Do I Have To Eat Lunch with the Children?” for the Georgia Education Association’s Centennial.
“The Silver Gala”
January 1, 1973
Albert Coleman directs the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at “The Silver Gala” – a celebration of WSB’s 25th Anniversary. The event featured Bob Hope, Steve Allen, MacDonald Carey, Dinah Shore, Jackie Cooper, Jayne Meadows, Burt Reynolds, Charlie Rich and Bobby Rydell.
Georgia Music Week
September 30, 1979
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at Stone Mountain Park during Georgia Music Week. The performance includes numerous special guests, including Isaac Hayes.
Hartsfield International Airport
January 1, 1980
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at the opening celebration for the new Hartsfield International Airport.
Georgia Music Week
September 21, 1980
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at Stone Mountain Park during Georgia Music Week, in a performance which included a special guest appearance by James Brown. The concert was sponsored by the Music Performance Trust Fund, Friends of Georgia Music Week and the Senate Music Recording Industry Study Committee.
Georgia Power Building
January 1, 1981
The opening celebration for the Georgia Power Building, across from the Hyatt Regency downtown. The performance features the Southern Ballet and Albert Coleman conducting the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
Just Hooked On Country
January 1, 1982
Albert Coleman and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra record “Just Hooked on Country” at Southern Tracks recording studio in Atlanta. The album is released on Epic Records and features Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Floyd Cramer and more.
September 1, 1983
Albert Coleman and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra follow up their success of “Just Hooked on Country” with “Classic Country” on Epic Records, containing medleys of 48 country tunes. Like its predecessor, the recording is nominated for a Grammy® Award in the “Best Country & Western Instrumental Performance” category.
January 1, 1985
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at the groundbreaking ceremony for Buckhead Plaza. The event occurs at the site of the late Sears Building, whose opening celebration was produced by Albert Coleman in 1966.
Georgia World Congress Center
January 1, 1985
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at the opening celebration of the new wing of the Georgia World Congress Center.
“Atlanta Salutes Coke”
January 1, 1986
The City of Atlanta, through Mayor Young, commissions Albert Coleman to produce “Atlanta Salutes Coke” – one of only two public events officially sanctioned by Coca-Cola for their Centennial celebration in Atlanta. The performance features Albert, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra, guests, and a cast of thousands.
January 1, 1989
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the re-opening of Underground Atlanta.
Billy Payne’s Atlanta Organizing Committee
February 1, 1989
Albert Coleman and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra perform at City Hall for the International Olympic Committee and their families, in an effort to secure Atlanta as the host city for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Red Oak Amphitheatre
January 1, 1990
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra at the opening of the Red Oak Amphitheatre, Gwinnett Summer Series.
The AT&T Challenge
January 1, 1994
The Atlanta Pops Orchestra performs at the AT&T Challenge tennis tournament at the Atlanta Athletic Club, under the direction of Albert Coleman.
50th Anniversary Concert
January 1, 1995
Albert Coleman conducts the Atlanta Pops Orchestra in their 50th anniversary concert at the Fox Theatre.
Emile Pandolphi – Rhapsody in Blue
January 1, 2000
Under the direction of Albert Coleman, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra is featured in a recording of Rhapsody In Blue with pianist Emile Pandolfi. Originally recorded at Allgood Studios in 1995, the piece serves as the finale of the album of solo piano performances of George Gershin classics by the celebrated pianist.
Tour of Taiwan
April 1, 2004
Under the direction of Maestro John Head, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra completes a three week tour of Taiwan, including performances at the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and the Cultural Centers in Kaohsiung, Taichung and Penghu. Craig Schulman, best known for appearing in the title roles of Jekyll & Hyde, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera, and nearly 2,000 performances of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, on Broadway and around the world, joins the orchestra on several performances.
Dr. Jason Altieri
January 1, 2010
In 2010, Dr. Jason Altieri succeeds Maestro John Head as Conductor and Music Director of the Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
70th Anniversary Gala
October 5, 2015
On October 2 & 3, 2015, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra performed a 70th Anniversary Gala concert event at Oglethorpe University’s Conant Performing Arts Center. The programs paid tribute to the storied history of the Atlanta Pops Orchestra and featured many guest artists from the Atlanta area, including Arrested Development, Cecil Welch, Michelle Malone, HeaveN Beatbox, Brent Runnels, Levi Lowrey, Montana Skies, Chris Wright, Joe Gransden and Scott Porter.
In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays
November 14, 2015
On November 13, John Driskell Hopkins and the Atlanta Pops Orchestra released In The Spirit: A Celebration of the Holidays, the first Christmas album recorded by the Atlanta Pops Orchestra in their 70 year history, and the first major release by the orchestra in over 30 years. The album includes guest appearances by Balsam Range, Indigo Girls and Laura Bell Bundy.
Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble
November 1, 2016
In 2016, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble is introduced. This 14 to 16 piece version of the Atlanta Pops Orchestra is assembled to take advantage of performance opportunities in new and atypical settings for the full orchestra. The Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble’s engagements included a performance at The Vista Room in Decatur, Georgia with John Driskell Hopkins and a perfomance at the Art of Music Festival in Lake Junaluska, NC with bluegrass group Balsam Range.
100th Rotary International Convention
June 22, 2017
In June, Atlanta Pops Orchestra performed for over 44,000 guests from throughout the world at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta during the opening ceremonies of the 100th Rotary International Convention. Maestro Jason Altieri led the orchestra in a stunning performance of American popular music, with guest appearances by singers Katie Deal and Margaret Keys. Additionally, members of the orchestra joined the internationally renowned Irish-Norwegian band Secret Garden for their performance during the closing ceremonies.
Midwest and Southeast Tour with Chloë Agnew
March 17, 2018
In March 2018, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra presented “An Irish Heart” with former Celtic Woman star Chloë Agnew, Irish tenor Dermot Kiernan and Riverdance alum Scott Porter. The tour took the group to concert halls in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and South Carolina, including a performance at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN.
MerleFest and Mountain Overture
April 27, 2018
On Friday, April 27, the Atlanta Pops Orchestra Ensemble joined bluegrass quintet Balsam Range at the world-renowned Americana & roots music festival MerleFest, in a performance to celebrate the release of their collaborative album “Mountain Overture.” The album hit #5 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart and #6 on the Billboard Classical Chart the following week.
Special thanks to The Popular Music and Culture Collection Division of the Georgia State University Special Collections and Archives, Atlanta Federation of Musicians – Local 148-462 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, The Georgia Music Hall of Fame and The Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library for their help with this timeline project.