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Boston Pops

For year after year, decade after decade, the Boston Pops were one of the most popular orchestras in America. Through concerts, tours, and an endless series of record albums, they brought classical music, marches, and contemporary pop to millions of listeners. Over the course of the 20th century, the orchestra was recorded more than any other. They developed a repertoire that functioned as the de facto American classical and pop lexicon. The Boston Pops were populists, emphasizing melody and texture instead of somber, challenging classical pieces. This direction was devised by Henry Lee Higginson, who formed the prototype of the Pops in 1885. The orchestra remained a popular local attraction for the first three decades of the 1900s, but it became nationally famous when Arthur Fiedler was appointed as conductor in 1930. Over the next five decades, he perfected a friendly, accessible sound that emphasized familiar classical pieces with popular tunes, marches, and excerpts from film and Broadway scores. By the time John Williams took over for Fiedler in 1980, the Boston Pops were internationally known, but Williams took great steps to ensure that the outfit remain contemporary, frequently adding new pieces to their repertoire. Williams stayed with the outfit until 1995, when he passed the mantle on to Keith Lockhart. In all three incarnations, the basic sound of the Boston Pops remained unchanged, and the orchestra retained its popularity throughout shifting musical tastes.

The Boston Pops Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts that specializes in playing light classical and popular music.

The Boston Pops was founded in 1885 as a second, popular identity of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), founded four years earlier. Consisting primarily of musicians from the BSO, although generally not the first-chair players, the orchestra performs a Spring season of popular music and a holiday program in December, the BSO schedule on break at those times. For the Pops, the seating on the floor of Symphony Hall is reconfigured from auditorium seating to banquet/cafe seating. In addition the Pops also plays an annual concert at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade every Fourth of July. Identified with its long-time director Arthur Fiedler, in the past the orchestra has recorded extensively, made frequent tours, and appeared regularly on television. The Pops Spring and Holiday seasons allowed the BSO to become one of the first American orchestras to provide year-round employment for its musicians.

The current Music Director of the Boston Pops Orchestra is Keith Lockhart.


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