Symphonic metamorphosis: orchestral pops

Posted on: August 26, 2016

“There is a fundamental challenge facing pops orchestras and series,” writes Brian Wise in Thursday’s (8/25) New York Times. “As music directors and administrators try various approaches to connect with new audiences … are they abandoning the large repertory that drew many listeners in the first place?” Examples include Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which the Boston Pops has traditionally performed on its Fourth of July concert but which was not included in this year’s national telecast on CBS. “The New York Pops and Cincinnati Pops continue to mix light classics with American songbook standards and film music. But … when Michael Krajewski became [the Philly Pops’] music director in 2013, he jettisoned light classics for pop- and rock-themed programs.” At the Nashville Symphony last year, “its pops series sold at 85 percent capacity, compared with 73 percent for its classical series; orchestra officials partly credit the higher pops sales to headliners such as the country band Alabama…. The New York Philharmonic … one of several major orchestras without a pops series … has drawn large audiences by showing films with live accompaniment” such as Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and Disney’s Fantasia: Live in Concert. National Symphony Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke “doesn’t plan to abandon those older pops staples…. ‘I don’t see them disappearing.’ ”

Posted August 26, 2016

Pictured: The Boston Pops’ annual Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, which has traditionally included Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture