Bob Lappin, founder, music director and conductor of the Palm Beach Pops, died Monday in Boston. He was 78.
Lappin was known for his dedication to the Great American Songbook. He was a gifted pianist who earned a music degree from Ithaca College in upstate New York. After graduating, he signed with the Music Corporation of America and toured North America with his trio and orchestra. In his late 20s, he left music for the business world, building a single Pepsi bottling plant into holdings that included bottling plants in Connecticut and Massachusetts and radio stations. He sold his plants in 1984.
After retiring from business, he returned to music, guest conducting orchestras for several years. In 1991, he founded the Palm Beach Pops, where he became the dominant force - designing programs, hiring arrangers and conducting from the podium and the piano. The orchestra held its first concert in 1992 at the former West Palm Beach Auditorium. Today, the Pops performs 36 concerts annually at the Kravis Center, the Eissey Campus Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens and the Florida Atlantic University Performing Arts Center in Boca Raton.
The Pops issued a statement Tuesday saying, "we are deeply saddened about the passing of Mr. Lappin." The pops board will meet soon to determine the organization's next steps, the statement said.