At 125, Boston Pops confronts 21st-century challenges

Posted on: May 4, 2010

In Sunday’s (5/2) Boston Globe, Geoff Edgers writes, “Horse-drawn carriages will arrive at Symphony Hall on Tuesday night bearing actors dressed as iconic and long-dead Bostonians Isabella Stewart Gardner and Pops founder Henry Lee Higginson. But the costumes, part of a grand celebration to kick off the orchestra’s 125th season, can’t hide the truth: The Boston Pops is facing a very 21st-century problem. Ticket sales are down, television exposure is scarce, and the orchestra, one of Boston’s grandest traditions, is looking for answers as it kicks off its anniversary season. Mark Volpe, the managing director who oversees the Pops, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood, blames the struggles largely on the economy. ‘You’re talking about the worst recession in decades,’ he said. ‘Are we concerned and are we trying to be proactive? Yes? Am I panicked? No.’ … There are some bright spots—revenue from the holiday season Pops concerts have held steady at $5 million in recent years and nine concerts in the upcoming season have sold out—but the sales challenges have left the leaders of ‘America’s Orchestra,’ as it was known in Arthur Fiedler’s time, searching for solutions. On the artistic side, that means trying to balance tradition with the new.”

Posted May 4, 2010