POPS COMING TO MCCOY

     There won’t be playoff baseball at McCoy in 2010, but there is a big event coming to the park in early September that should pack the house.  Conductor Keith Lockhart is bringing the Boston Pops to the “house that Ben built” on September 4th for an All American evening of entertainment that will feature pop icon Kenny Loggins.  Lockhart looks forward to his trip to Pawtucket.  “We were approached earlier in the year to bring the Pops, en masse to McCoy Stadium on September 4th, with our special guest Kenny Loggins.  We’ll be working together with him for the first time.  We’ll be playing songs from our “Red Sox” album.  We think we’re gonna rock the place.  We think it’s going ot be a great concert.”

     While Lockhart looks forward to collaborating with Loggins, this is nothing new to the orchestra.  “We’ve had pretty much everybody walk on the stage with the Boston Pops.  Bono, Sting, Elvis Costello.  We’ve had great jazz artists, great Broadway stars.  You name it, they’ve been there.  that’s one of the greatest things about the Pops.  They play the widest range of music for a broad audience.  For this show, there couldn’t be a more perfect place than a baseball stadium.”

     Lockhart has led the Pops for 16 years, but he doesn’t come from Boston.  He grew up about 100 miles north of New York City, and quickly defends that.  I was about 9 years old when I became aware of baseball.  It was 1969 and 9 year olds can be fickle.  I switched my allegiance to the Mets.  It’s much easier converting from a Mets fan than a Yankees fan to Boston”. 

     While Lockhart was never a pro athlete, he began a love affair with music at an early age.  “Growing up, watching the early years of “Evening of Pops” with Arthur Fiedler, watching the Leonard Bernstein young peoples’ concerts…I was in a great place.  Growing up so close to New York City, I was able to take advantage of all that was going on.  I came from a totally non-music background and I struck out on my own in this direction and I’ve been very very lucky.” 

     Lockhart has been in Boston long enough to understand the legacies of two iconic franchises, The Red Sox and The Pops.  At Fenway, leftfield was passed from Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to Jim Rice.  At Symphony Hall, the baton went from Arthur Fiedler to John Williams to Lockhart, himself.  “One of the great things about Boston and New England in general, is that it embraces a cultural institution like the Pops with the same passion that it embraces its’ sports teams.  There is no other city I can think of in this country where the conductor of the Boston Pops is just as familiar walking down the street as Kevin Youkilis.  I’ve been around long enough, 16 years, to experience the pain and pleasure of being a Red Sox fan.

     While Lockhart and many of his musicians love the Boston sports scene, the “Maestro” says it is a mutual admiration society.  “There is some crossover there.  Tedy Bruschi is a fairly active sax player.  Tom Brady brings his family to “Holiday Pops” a lot of the time.  We have a good relationship with Red Sox management and some of the players.  They did a lot to help us when the album came out.  It’s that kind of a town, where everyone pulls together and the great traditions are viewed as great traditions.”  

    Lockhart and the orchestra have performed on some of the biggest sports stages in the world.  That’s another reason he’s excited about coming to McCoy.  “I’ve been very fortunate to be at some great places at some great times due to my association with the Boston Pops.  We were the pre-game show, along with Paul McCartney for the 2002 Super Bowl, which was pretty amazing.  Five days later, I was on the field with the Utah Symphony at the opening ceremony for the Salt Lake Winter Games.  It was the most amazing week imaginable,”  He also has performed at NBA playoff games and Patriots games, as well,  Once, with Elton John.

     Lockhart has seen great athletes and heard great musicians.  He loves them both.  “Performance is performance.  Great performance of talent is beautiful to watch, and it should get you jazzed.”  For tickets or information about the Pops show at McCoy call 401-724-7300.

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