At the Boston Pops, a “participatory musical democracy” via cellphone votes

Posted on: June 8, 2015

In Monday’s (6/8) Boston Globe, Marc Hirsh writes about a recent Boston Pops concert at which conductor Keith Lockhart asked audience members to vote on musical selections via phone. “If having people use them to select the next piece was ‘an experiment in participatory musical democracy,’ Lockhart mused Friday at Symphony Hall, then isn’t that what the Pops has always been about? … Roars of approval identified each category’s winner even before votes were cast. But the constantly shifting bar graphs of the real-time results added a delightful horse-race aspect that mitigated the runaway victories of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (in the Iconic Rock Ballad category) and especially Musical Guilty Pleasure ‘Dancing Queen.’ … The results rarely surprised—‘Dancing Queen,’ ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston,’ and the ‘Star Wars’ theme are practically signature Pops tunes by now—but they did please a super-majority of the audience. So did encore favorite ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,’ guest conducted by Hopkinton music teacher Janice Barry … yet another experiment in participatory musical democracy for the Pops.” The program included Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, selections from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane, Hovhaness’s Prayer of St. Gregory, and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

Posted June 8, 2015

Pictured: At the Boston Pops’ Symphony Hall concert on Friday, a large screen showed a bar-graph tally of audience votes for songs. Photo by Liza Voll