About the California Pops Orchestra

“Your kind of music! Your kind of orchestra!”

This motto is at the heart of the California Pops Orchestra. We have only one goal and that is to bring the best, most entertaining pops shows to the Bay Area. As the nation’s only all-request Pops orchestra you can always count on the California Pops Orchestra’s musicians and featured guests to bring you fun, family-friendly shows with selections from the full range of the popular music repertoire. Every one of the Pops performers love the music of Broadway musicals, television, Hollywood movies, jazz, pop, comic novelties, and big band.

This popular music is often scored for a unique set of instruments found in movie and recording studios but not in classical symphony orchestras. Don’t be surprised if you see flugelhorns, a saxophone section, harmonicas, congas, whips, theramins, accordions and other colorful instruments.

The Pops includes many of the Bay Area’s leading musicians with training from very distinguished conservatories including Oberlin, Julliard, and the Eastman School of Music. The Pops also draws from those in business and teaching with a diverse amalgamation of scientists, educators, engineers, marketing, technology leaders and other highly creative individuals. This diversity in background plus a single-minded purpose makes the Pops a delight to play with and a never-ending source of ideas, inspiration and humor.

On a serious note, the Pops is building a musical library that includes light classics, jazz, latin, movie, Broadway, TV, cartoon, circus, vaudeville and big band music. Many of these orchestrations are long out of print and represent a uniquely American musical heritage that is quickly slipping away. It is a vital part of the California Pops Orchestra’s charter to preserve this heritage through the purchase, restoration and live performances of this music in our communities. Ask any of our players how you can help with this vital effort.

Conductor Kim Venaas

Maestro Kim Venaas has conducted, arranged and performed in all areas of popular, classical and commercial music, from recordings to radio/TV to the concert and musical stage, from Davies Symphony Hall to the St. Francis Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. He was brought up on big band music and, in addition to the California Pops Orchestra, has served as Carol Channing’s Music Director and leads the Black Tie Jazz Band, a 19-piece professional ‘30s and ‘40s era society big band here on the West Coast. Herb Caen called BTJB “that great swinging band!”

He has written and produced several Golden Age of Radio musical variety shows and works tirelessly to preserve popular music around the country, assisting orchestras and music libraries including the Paramount Theatre Library of Popular Music with a collection now exceeding 170,000 pieces of irreplaceable American musical history.

All Kim’s musical experience in composing, arranging, conducting and recording has led him back to the show stage where he brings a relaxed, interactive style in the Pops’ shows; a style free of the usual formal separation between conductor and audience, a style where fun is the point.