Beloved Boston Pops Orchestra conductor Keith Lockhart is no stranger to collaborating with big stars.
Andthis year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is no different as mega pop stars Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas join country veterans Little Big Town to herald in the city’s Fourth of July celebrations.
Still, the real star of the night might just be something that’s nearly as old as America. Lockhart kindly took time from rehearsals to talk with us before the annual event.
How familiar were you with Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas before you set about rehearsals?
I’m not very familiar with Demi and Nick’s music, but I know they’re wildly popular. I’m looking forward to getting to know their music better and working with them on the Esplanade.
Nick Jonas is quite the heartthrob; perhaps it will be a “scream fest.” Do you expect a younger audience flocking to the Hatch Shell this year?
This year, I imagine there’s a whole new young audience across the state lobbying their parents to take them the concert, and we think that’s great. It is always a concert with a little something for everyone, though. I love that all generations and ages can come together to celebrate Independence Day with the Pops.
Little Big Town adds a country element, does that allow for some musical contrast?
We’ve certainly had other country acts as part of the Fourth — a great show with Toby Keith in 2010 comes to mind. The genre is a perfect fit for this event and we’re looking forward to working with Little Big Town next week.
The Fourth’s point, of course, is liberty; the Revolutionary War we won. Does too much celebrity detract from that?
The Boston Pops is [called] “America’s Orchestra,” so patriotism is baked into the core of the organization. We tap into the national identity by reminding listeners about the musical heritage we share. It’s such a pleasure to work with celebrities like Demi and Nick because they come with a whole new audience, and an enthusiasm to honor our country in a big way by performing on a grand scale with the Pops. Demi attended the concert a few years ago on the lawn, so she knows how exciting it is to be there, on stage or in the audience.
Can even the biggest pop star’s songs compete with the grand finale of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”?
That the “1812 Overture” is associated with July Fourth is a phenomenon that arose from Esplanade concerts dating back to the 1970s. Despite having led this concert over 20 times, it’s still a thrill to bring the orchestra to the exciting finale with real exploding canons setting the stage for a phenomenal fireworks show over the Charles River. I’ve had the pleasure of leading thousands of concerts and still nothing quite compares to this.
Finally, for the public attending, can you give us your personal tips on how to enjoy the concert best?
I’ve never had the pleasure of watching the Pops on the Esplanade, but from what I hear I’d recommend getting there early for a good spot, bring plenty of sunscreen and most of all have fun. We get a rush from playing this concert and it is the energy of the audience that creates this spark.
If you go:
The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is free.
Sunday (rehearsal, no fireworks): Gates open at 5 p.m.; concert begins at 8:30 p.m.
Monday: Gates open at 9 a.m.; concert begins at 8:30 p.m.
DCR Hatch Shell
47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston