POSTED ON NPRMUSIC.ORG – July 4, 2010 – Every year, hundreds of thousands of people gather at the Charles River Esplanade to hear the Boston Pops give its annual July 4th concert, and millions more watch it on TV. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Boston Pops – the granddaddy of America’s popular orchestras.
From the start, the idea was to make the Boston Pops feel different, not just in repertoire but in atmosphere.
Keith Lockhart, who has been conducting the Pops for the past sixteen years, says it was formed in 1885 by some of the Boston Symphony’s early benefactors, who were looking to expand the symphony’s appeal.
“Boston is the first city in the country to have had a public library,” he says. “I think these very civic-minded people thought, ‘How do we make this institution resonate with lots of people?'”
One way was to make the concerts a festive social occasion. From the beginning, Boston Pops concerts have served food and drink during performances. In fact, when Boston’s Symphony Hall was built in 1900, one of its principal features was an elevator in the center of the auditorium, so the seats could be removed and tables put in their place. Read more of the story…