Pops at Home: Conversations with Keith

Pops at Home: Conversations with Keith

Introducing Conversations with Keith, our new weekly interview series featuring Keith Lockhart and special guests. Each week we'll introduce you to the people who make the Boston Pops "America’s Orchestra," on the stage and behind the scenes.

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As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July, Keith speaks with David Mugar, who founded Boston’s modern, world-renowned 4th of July celebration with Arthur Fiedler in 1974. For more than 40 years, David was the executive producer of the concert and television show that is beloved by the half-million people who watch along the banks of the Charles in Massachusetts, and the millions more who watch on television. They share stories of the great enigma of Arthur Fiedler, why the 1812 Overture is associated with July 4th (and that it was David’s idea!), and all the behind the scenes details of fireworks and safety.

Arthur Fiedler is a legend in Boston and around America: as conductor of the Boston Pops for 50 years, he created the Pops genre and became the quintessential depiction of what a ‘conductor’ should be for generations of Americans who listened to his albums with the Pops or watched Evening at Pops. Keith speaks about Fiedler’s legacy with his son and Boston Symphony Advisor Peter Fiedler, and Boston radio legend and voice of the Boston Symphony Ron Della Chiesa.

MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Rhiannon Giddens talks with Keith about her complex and various artistic inspiration. When she performed with the Pops on July 4, 2018 and the following year for a week’s residency at Symphony Hall, Pops audiences experienced multi-instrumental and vocal talents as she performed music with influences in roots, jazz, blues, Gospel, and Celtic. In their conversation, Rhiannon shares some of the historic hidden truths and racism that has created the prevailing history of American music, and also celebrates the blending of music and culture that has created great “American” music in many styles.

Most Boston Pops audiences appreciate Principal Horn Gus Sebring’s beautiful playing, but don’t know about his many other talents. He is an Emmy-nominated composer and arranger, recording session musician, producer, photographer, video editor… and alp horn player! He takes us into his amazing home studio for a tour and some musical experimentation, as well as introducing us to some surprise guests, and premiering a special horn & piano arrangement of John Williams’ “Luke & Leia” theme in honor of the Pops’ postponed performances of The Empire Strikes Back with live orchestra.

Arrangers and orchestrators are the hidden heroes of the Boston Pops- the people who can take a “popular” song- from any genre- and translate it into the magnificent language of the orchestra. David Chase is a polymath- from starting out as a biology major at Harvard, he has become one of Broadway’s most sought-after arrangers and music supervisors- and he is also a music director, conductor, composer, pianist, and lyricist. Boston Pops audiences know him as the person who wrote the best ever version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that quite literally stops the show at Holiday Pops each year. In this episode, Keith and David explore the craft of arranging, their shared love of musical theater, and ponder the future of the arts during this time of crisis.

This week on Conversations with Keith, Keith talks with Broadway composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, the creative forces behind Ragtime, Anastasia, Seussical, Once On This Island, and more. In their more than 30 years working together, they’ve won every major theater award, as well as Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Since first collaborating on the 1998’s Pops Goes the Fourth! Television broadcast, Ahrens & Flaherty & the Boston Pops have collaborated on original works, including With Voices Raised and A Soldier’s Carol: The Christmas Truce of 1914, in addition to preparing to premiere the orchestral Ragtime in Concert (now slated for Spring Pops 2021.) They’ll speak about their history and craft, musical storytelling and collaborating with an orchestra… and their decidedly simple taste in comfort food!

Performers on this week’s episode:
Darlesia Cearcy, Sarah
Marin Mazzie, Mother
Alton Fitzgerald White, Coalhouse Walker, Jr.
Stephen Flaherty, piano
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Pops Gospel Choir
Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, conductor

With Voices Raised:
Jason Danieley, actor and vocalist
Johnny Lee Davenport, actor
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Marin Mazzie, actor
Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus
Boston Pops Gospel Choir
Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, conductor

This week, Keith speaks with Massachusetts native Larry Wolfe, Principal Bass of the Boston Pops. 2020 marks Larry’s 50th anniversary with the orchestra. Join as they share stories about Larry’s life and career. Watch to the end to hear a never-before-heard Stars and Stripes performance to honor Larry’s anniversary.

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