BOSTON — Thursday’s July Fourth concert on the Esplanade is the 40th in the long series at the Hatch Shell. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart joined Morning Edition to talk about what to expect at this year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.
Bob Oakes: This year’s concert has, of course, added significance coming just a couple months after the Boston Marathon attack. What’s planned to acknowledge that?
Keith Lockhart: We couldn’t ignore the events that had taken place at the last big public gathering in Boston. On the other hand, at least me personally, I’m a firm believer in needing to move forward from things like that as well.
What we’ve decided to do during the Boston Pops portion of the concert is to pay tribute to the first responders and the emergency medical personnel, the people who made what was a terrible situation much, much better than it possibly could have been. We’re going to feature on the stage with us the young MBTA officer who almost died in the pursuit of the alleged bombers. He’s going to come out and be our celebrity guest conductor during the concert, which I’m sure is going to get a great reaction from the crowd.
Because, after all, while we are in the weeks after the marathon bombing, today and tonight is all about celebration.
It is all about celebration. I’ve done 19 of these Fourth of July concerts in Boston. Each one of them has been a little bit different and each one of them in some way has reflected the mood of the country. It’s always a celebration but sometimes it’s tempered by other things that are going on.
Tell us about the musical selections tonight.
We’ve decided to focus this whole concert inward on Boston, to make this kind of a Boston Strong concert and to celebrate the local roots of this event. We’re featuring four performers kind of equally billed, all of whom call Boston home or receive their training, their inspiration here. They include the Grammy Award-winning blues artist Susan Tedeschi. Also the up and coming country star Ayla Brown, known to many as the daughter of [former] Sen. Scott Brown but also making quite a mark for herself in Nashville. Ellis Hall, wonderful Motwon singer who was the anointed successor to Ray Charles. As well, of course, the Boston Pops orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus just really lighting up the night.
And, of course, the 1812 at the appropriate time?
Of course, the 1812 — we wouldn’t miss it for the world. That with cannons and fireworks, also “The Stars And Stripes Forever” and some great patriotic music.
In light of all that’s happened recently, what are you anticipating from the crowd tonight? I’ll be it’ll be a big and very enthusiastic crowd.
I am anticipating exactly the same. I think a concert like this, a public gathering like this sends a message that people won’t be intimidated and that people will gather together peacefully as they always have in this situation, enjoy the rights and the freedoms that they have as Americans and celebrate even more loudly than before.
What’s your favorite part of the night?
My favorite part of the night, frankly, is when we’ve just done “Stars And Stripes Forever” and I can relax and take in the fireworks and not have to worry about going back on stage to do another piece because there’s a lot of pressure involved in doing a concert like this for a half million people, and it’s nice when it’s over.
Coming in on the Pike this morning, because I have a commute from the west, I saw cars this morning that I don’t usually see coming in on the Fourth of July from all over the eastern part of the U.S. early, early this morning — very unusual. So it’ll be a great time tonight.
That’s great. We can’t wait.