Exhibit B: Artifacts: The Pops
On May 4, the Pops opens its 125th season by honoring its three hardest-working conductors: Arthur Fiedler, John Williams, and Keith Lockhart. Bringing symphony music to the masses has always been a difficult job, and in 1935 Fiedler decided to include a contemporary song on the Pops’ first album – which sold more copies than any orchestral record in history. For some 100 albums since, Pops conductors have used contemporary trends to drum up interest in classical music. To promote 1998’s The Celtic Album, Lockhart dressed in Braveheart garb and handed out copies at a Celtics game. Listeners may have bought the album for its “Riverdance” track, but Lockhart made sure they got a healthy dose of Mendelssohn along the way.
IT’S THE POPS, MAN Fiedler’s voracious musical appetite let him embrace a broad range of flower-power hits, from the overture to Jesus Christ Superstar to the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.”
FASHION VICTIM? For his first Pops record, Lockhart wanted to pay tribute to Fiedler’s contemporary costuming. In 1996, that meant combining a tailcoat with shorts and mismatched sneakers.
SHOW BUSINESS Lockhart’s devotion to showmanship does have limits – an early idea for this 1999 recording would have required him to put on (yes) a Speedo.
SERIOUS HOLLYWOOD SPARKLE During his tenure, Williams considered kitschy album covers pandering. Luckily, Pops renditions of his film scores came with a built-in audience.
STAYIN’ ALIVE Two years after Saturday Night Fever, Fiedler struck his own Travolta pose. That Bach was as well suited to disco as the Bee Gees were, he said, proved the “universality of music.”