From the top, Father Christmas! Boston Pops Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Tour Returns to Hanover Theater on Friday
WORCESTER – There were a few dates missing for the Boston Pops Orchestra due to the pandemic, and they were particularly apparent last December as a month typically devoted to the “Holiday Pops” concerts at Boston’s Symphony Hall and taking the show on. the route to venues like Worcester was off the schedule for live performances.
“I missed it a lot,” Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart said in a recent phone interview.
He made a promise: “I think I said if we came back I would never be bored having a concert the next day.”
It turns out that Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra are performing again to a live audience at Boston Symphony Hall for the 2021 “Holiday Pops” season starting Thursday.
And the next day, Friday at 8 pm, is the date Lockhart brings the Boston Pops to the Hanover Theater and Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Worcester for “Holiday Pops”.
There is also a concert at 8 p.m. Friday at Symphony Hall, but the Boston Pops, which is part of the Boston Symphony Orchestra organization, has enough musicians to fill over 2½ full-size orchestras, as another conductor will take over. reins in Boston that night. while Lockhart is there.
“Hope and a little if you worry”
Lockhart, 62, seemed far from annoyed. “I always talk about how tradition exists for a reason. I think this is a year when people in particular will be looking to restore traditions,” he said.
But when asked if he spent any time during the pandemic thinking about what the future of Boston Pops might be like, Lockhart said, “I think for all of us there was a bit of navel-gazing. . My questions weren’t so much about the Pops, but as a performing artist, it’s kind of weird to have that taken away abruptly. “
With that, “I look to the future with hope and a little bit of concern,” he said.
Lockhart added, “The recovery is on and not everyone is comfortable in a concert setting yet. Certainly those who return are very impatient. The performances these days are a party to the party. love.
“Some of my optimistic colleagues thought they (the audience) would come back immediately. But we have to be patient, which is not one of my strong points.”
There will be rewards. Back live, “you feel a connection with the audience that shines through masks and social distancing,” Lockhart said.
Worcester’s visit spans decades
The tradition of Boston Pops visiting Worcester for the holidays dates back almost 40 years. For 27 years, the orchestra has given its annual concert at the DCU Center. After a three-year absence from the city, the Boston Pops returned here in 2012, this time to the Hanover Theater.
Lockhart has conducted the Worcester Orchestra since 1996.
Friday night’s program at the Hanover Theater will feature traditional Boston Pops elements and new plays.
“We have really worked to diversify our cultural offerings,” said Lockhart.
Boston-based music and choral director David Coleman has been tasked with contributing to a mix of spirituals from a Christmas perspective.
“The Good News Voyage”, which will be performed on Friday, is an arrangement of the holiday spirituals “Go Tell It on the Mountain”, “Mary Had a Baby Boy” and “Rise, Shine, For Your Light Is Coming”. It is also a work on “The Journey of Black Americans,” Lockhart said.
Also scheduled to premiere on Friday, Mexican composer Arturo Rodríguez recently arranged and orchestrated two works by the late Mexican composer Silvino Jaramill which are now standard with choirs and orchestras across Mexico during the holiday season – “México, ángel y pastor “and” Mexican Villancico.
In 2014, the Boston Pops commissioned “A Soldier’s Carol,” a work for orchestra, chorus, and narrator by “Ragtime” musical creators Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens to mark the 100th anniversary of the “Christmas Truce” in WWI. global.
On Christmas Eve 1914, soldiers from both sides of “No Man’s Land” defied orders and gathered to celebrate the season peacefully with Christmas carols and small gifts, initiating a temporary truce that lasted until Christmas day.
“When we did it, I said hopefully we can do it again,” Lockhart said. “This year seems fitting, as the play expresses a wish that we all do our part to bring light to the darkness. I saw the analogy of us trying to reach out.”
Ellington’s perspective on Tchaikovsky
The concert will also include two extracts (“Sugar Rum Cherry” and “Peanut Brittle Brigade”) from Duke Ellington’s jazzy version of Tchaikovsky’s famous “The Nutcracker Suite”.
“A Visit From St. Nicholas” (“It Was The Night Before Christmas” with a guest narrator) will return, as will “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and the arrival of you-know-who.
The program ends with the Boston Pops’ signature vacation song “Sleigh Ride” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, as well as traditional and popular song.
As has been the case for several years, the orchestra will be joined on Friday by the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline.
“They just started singing together in September,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart was made conductor of the Boston Pops in 1995, and May 6, 2020 was to be the date that the Boston Pops began what was billed as “a season-long performance party to celebrate the milestone. quarter century of Lockhart ”.
The party was canceled.
“Maybe now 2021 is my 25th year instead,” Lockhart joked.
The pre-pandemic world “appears to be 100 years ago,” he said, but for all the missing dates in person, the Boston Pops have been busy.
“I’ve played with the orchestra virtually. There’s been a whole season of virtual programming,” Lockhart said.
Virtual events have served a purpose
This included the July 4, 2020 concert, another big Boston Pops tradition that was usually held outdoors on the Charles River Esplanade with fireworks. Instead, a pre-recorded concert was broadcast live without fireworks.
For “Holiday Pops”, the orchestra had a pre-recorded show available on demand with special footage shot at Symphony Hall and Fenway Park.
This summer, the Boston Pops performed live at Tanglewood in Lenox. The July 4th concert was broadcast live from there with fireworks simultaneously broadcast from Boston Common instead of over the Charles River.
The “Holiday Pops” season which kicks off Thursday at Boston Symphony Hall will be “the first time Pops has performed to a live audience since July 4,” Lockhart said.
Besides Worcester, the Boston Pops will also travel the route from Storrs, Connecticut (Saturday), Manchester, New Hampshire (December 11) and Lowell (December 19).
Symphony Hall concerts will run until December 24.
Lockhart has a young family, so there was the consolation that for the first time in years he was much more at home last December.
“It was really wonderful spending a lot more time with my kids than ever before,” he said.
However, “I felt like I was missing a date and doing something I shouldn’t,” Lockhart said. “And I think I got pretty insufferable the third week of December.”
Boston Pops 2021 Holiday Tour
When: Friday 8 p.m.
Where: Hanover Theater and Conservatory for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester
How much: Tickets cost $ 59, $ 79, $ 99, and $ 129 depending on the seat location. (877) 571-7469; thehanovertheatre.org.
For more details on Hanover Theater security protocols, visit thehanovertheatre.org/safetyprotocols