Councilpersons. Thank you, Councilman
Kenney. Did I really do all of those things? No wonder I'm so tired.
Actually, I did all that in less time than it took for the completion of the Blue Route. I learned that when I got here, that that was the local joke. That was 1979.
Actually, I'm really energized and flattered and appreciative, and I thank you, Councilman Kenney and the rest of the members of the Council, for bestowing this honor on me.
After traveling the country on tour since 1961, which included Philadelphia by the way, the opportunity arose for another orchestra in this great city, and since Boston had the Boston
Pops, why not Philadelphia and the
Philadelphia Pops, in this case the
Philly Pops. Moe Septee, the founder,
had a vision that he was able to bring to
fruition. I got the call in 1979 to be
the music director and have been here
ever since. Made Philly my home in 1988,
leaving California to make Philly home base. On one of my concerts when I was Pops' music director of the Tulsa Philharmonic, I had the great trumpet player "Dizzy" Gillespie as guest artist. On a rehearsal break we got into a rap about where we lived. I told him I had just moved from California to Philly. He took a step back and stared at me. He said, You moved to Philly? I moved to California from Philly.
Now, I had been told by the natives here that Philly being in the shadow of New York City was a constant irritant to the locals, and it manifested itself in a civic inferiority complex. Well, it didn't take long for this city
to embrace us, and a renaissance began
here, not necessarily coincidental but it
did, with new highly rated restaurants,
renovations of historic edifices,
expansion of the waterfront, a new
convention center and new hotels. I
found a strong sense of community here
that I had never felt in other mega cities. People would stop me on the street, and it wasn't for an autograph or for any semblance of celebrity. They wanted to tell me how much they enjoyed the concerts and actually thanked me for what really amounted to me just doing my job. Sometimes I had to wonder if I was getting paid or doing a benefit. Granted, it takes 24/7 to make each series and concert better than the last one.
So I thank you, Councilman Kenney and other members of the Council, for this honor and hope I can live up to the expectations of this citation.