Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
Currently, they are being led by the musical director Keith Lockhart
. Before him, however, they were known for performing with Arthur Fiedler
, who had been their creative director for much of their existence. With him, they performed concerts at “Esplanade” on the fourth of July every year. They would also appear on the television frequently. They operated with the BSO like a tag team, which made them the only known symphony orchestra in American to be playing concerts all year round. They were also applauded for providing secure employment to their musicians. Other orchestras that are similar in nature function on a seasonal basis where the players have to go elsewhere once the season ends. The BSO has broken those boundaries and are standing as an example of another way of running an ensemble.
It was in 1881 that the founder of the BSO, Henry Lee Higginson
proposed that the orchestra play music that are lighter in nature, rather than the classical tunes they would frequent that have a lot of complexity and require technical ability. While people did enjoy the concerts that they played, the founder felt like they should broaden their horizons and invite other people to listen to their music as well. Thus the Boston Pops Orchestra was formed in 1885. In the beginning, they performed what were known as “Promenade Concerts” until the dawn of the twentieth century when their shows began to combine some light classical melodies into the mix as well. Other than that, they would perform popular tunes from Broadway shows and other musical theatre hits. At times, they would even play their own compositions. An interesting fact about the orchestra has been that throughout the years, they have pretty much remained the same. Though, of course, some tastes and preferences have altered, it is remarkable how the 19 century BPO and the orchestra as we know it today is so similar in nature.
It was not until 1930 that they appointed a formal conductor, Fiedler who would articulate their shows to the public. He was a hit with the audience and thus enjoyed 50 years as the creative head for the Boston Pops. While he was in charge, they became more and more popular, going beyond just Boston to other cities as well, and eventually all over the country as they took over television and radio. Fiedler, in his time was frustrated that classical music was only associated with a posh gentry, who go to concerts as part of high society. He wanted it to be open for people from all walks of life and thus began work to open it up for a wider audience. He began to play free concerts at the “Esplanade”. He insisted that they be allowed to play popular tunes alongside the classic, thus creating an interesting genre, popular symphony. He composed a number of novelty pieces for the orchestra to play as well in collaboration with Leroy Anderson
, the most popular of which were “Sleigh Ride”, and “The Typewriter”.
After Fiedler died in 1979, John Williams
took over the orchestra. Williams
is a well known film score composer, known for his work in the Harry Potter
films amongst others. He had a niche for movie music from the very beginning and was, back in the day, responsible for introducing film scores into the BPO’s repertoire. “Indiana Jones” and “Stars Wars” was then frequently played by the group.
In 1995, Kevin Lockhart
took over as the principal conductor and remains on the position to this date. What he has brought to the table is some flamboyance and drama to the group. He likes to have a dramatic element in all of their performances, which make the shows even more interesting to watch. Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra tickets
will be perfect for classical music first timers.