Let the music play

Matthew Koveal wasn’t ready to let the music stop.

The resident of South Philly’s Bella Vista neighborhood and established trumpet player wasn’t going to let a good thing get away so easily once the Philly POPS announced it would wind down operations after years of passionate performances to local audiences.

Koveal took on the role as the executive director of a new rendition of the group called “The No Name Pops,” which includes some of the former musicians of the Philly POPS. The name was proposed by Koveal as a placeholder during the inaugural performance. The group officially started in May.

“I didn’t know what we should call ourselves, so I figured this would do in the meantime,” Koveal said. “I didn’t realize the larger potential behind the name until later. To us, our name, or lack thereof, says it all. The No Name Pops doesn’t waste time with nonsense. We give the patrons what they want. We don’t hide behind excuses. We are transparent with our entire community.”

Similar, but different name. Same goal of creating and performing great music. Once the formalities of choosing an actual name were completed, the music could take over.

“Our musical approach knows no boundaries,” Koveal said. “Our performances are for all and our collaborations are unbound by genre and style. The obsession with a name can overshadow the people who make an organization work. At The No Name Pops, we believe that in order to make good music, the patrons, musicians and administration need to work together. Without equal respect for all parties, we are nothing.”

The No Name Pops has already been playing live performances all around the city, with more than 15 free performances in various neighborhoods. The musicians have performed in numerous configurations with legendary singers like Philadelphia’s music icon, Eddie Bruce, and vocalist Paula Holloway, often donating their services to reach the people. The organization believes that music should be accessible for all, and in all places, not just the concert hall, which led to many free concerts in the region.

“We believe that our great city should have Pops music, so we came together to form The No Name Pops to provide this style of music to Philadelphia,” said cellist and founding board member Jon Fink.

Recently, the band announced a concert called “Let’s Groove Tonight: Motown and the Philly Sound” on Oct. 28 at the Kimmel Center at 3 and 8 p.m., which will be conducted by Herb Smith with guest artists including Chester Gregory who played Berry Gordy in “Motown the Musical” on Broadway. The band plans to play classic songs by artists like The Spinners, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Gamble & Huff and The O’Jays.

“Philadelphia deserves pops orchestral music in a straightforward, enjoyable experience,” Koveal said. “The name ‘No Name Pops’ signifies the absence of musical limitations and obstacles in our pursuit of collaborating with all artists. This approach ensures that our exceptional art form remains accessible to everyone. Our commitment is underlined by the series of free concerts we’ve organized in various neighborhoods.”

Tickets for Oct. 28 are on sale at the Kimmel Cultural Campus or by calling Ticket Philadelphia at 215-893-1999 or by visiting https://www.kimmelculturalcampus.org/.