The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is a pops orchestra based in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, founded in 1977 out of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Its members are also the members of the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Pops is managed by the same administration. Erich Kunzel, the Pops' founding conductor, continued to lead the Pops until his death on September 1, 2009.
It was Maestro Max Rudolf who, in 1965, invited Erich Kunzel, then a young conductor on the faculty of Brown University, to join the Cincinnati Symphony. That October the Dartmouth graduate, who had been personal assistant to the great French conductor Pierre Monteux, conducted his first sold-out 8 O'Clock Pops concert. From this orchestra eventually sprang the Cincinnati Pops. It was the beginning of a modern orchestral legend and, 30 years later, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is still performing for packed houses in Cincinnati's Music Hall and gaining new fans the world over through tour performances and its recordings on the Telarc label. In May 2008, it was announced that the Cincinnati Pops received an invitation to play at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. They were the only American orchestra invited to play for the opening weekend. Erich Kunzel died in 2009. In December 2010, John Morris Russell was named as the new director of the Pops, effective September 1, 2011.