Those first few chords seem familiar, but no, this is not quite the John Williams classic score about THAT wizard, but another earnest group of wizard hopefuls. Not quite ‘saint-like,’ but fun loving and enthusiastic underachievers nonetheless. Some legendary faces appear and make quite an impression, but the Puffs are the real stars.
Full of inside and self aware jokes, 90s pop culture references, chocolate frogs, almost every flavored bean, and not nearly as long as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 comes Puffs, a spot on parody that tells the epic tale of the seven years Harry Potter attended Hogwarts from the viewpoint of some of the lesser known wizard students that aimed for first, but would also settle for third. It is a hilarious exploration that is best appreciated by Harry Potter fans due to its share of spoilers, but anyone would enjoy a wealth of improvisational fun and physical humor as well as Dean Palmer Junior’s impressive lighting and special effects. The introduction of hilarious dragons and haunting dementors are just some of the show’s highlights.
This is absolutely not a retread of Harry Potter though, but tells a slightly different and more humorous tale along Harry Potter’s timeline. It is difficult to choose which characters makes the biggest impression because each cast member collaborate so well together and as a big Harry Potter fan, I found myself laughing right through my mask which is required within Company Theatre’s comfortable theatre space.
Many cast members transfigure into multiple roles as Brianna Casey serves as Puffs scholarly narrator. Casey’s benevolent and dignified delivery adds gravitas to an often whimsical role, keeping the tale focused as some of the more spontaneous characters could have led the story astray. Will Moon epitomizes Cedric’s rock star persona and charismatic scene stealer in a dual role and Alex Norton’s Wayne Hopkins is talkative and charming as the tale’s ‘would be’ hero. Morgan Hurley offers a memorable portrayal of conflicted Megan Jones, a rebel with a chip on her shoulder. She shares endearing chemistry with Sean Lally as Wayne’s nerdy best friend, Oliver Rogers.
Anastasia Ferrera is bubbly and delightful as Leanne among others and James Keyes as goofy J. Finch as well as other roles is often the life of the party. One of the many collaborative scenes and highlights of the show involve a party with too much butter beer and a familiar sounding 90s dance song. Some scenes seem a random addition, but are always smartly done.
With intricate, multi-functional sets and props (those wands and that sorting hat!) by Ryan Barrow and colorful, distinctive, and humorously outlandish costumes by John Crampton, Puffs is a lighthearted and wonderful journey while still delivering important life lessons so prevalent in the books such as valuing the power of friendship, dreaming big, and being true to oneself. It’s a shame the show is only presented for one weekend with a cast that is having so much fun.
Academy of the Company Theatre (ACT) performs parody Puffs through October 24. Click here for more information and for all of the Company Theatre’s upcoming events.
It has become a beloved Boston Pops tradition to exhibit the finest films in cinema history enhanced by the stellar sounds of the Boston Pops, an immersive film experience performed so eloquently, one may never watch the film quite the same way again. In the past few years, The Boston Pops has inventively breathed new life into film classics such as ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘Psycho,’ ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and ‘Nosferatu‘ through stunning live orchestration and Star Wars lives up to that sterling reputation.
The re-mastered, extended version of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert‘ with live orchestration by the Boston Pops was held at Symphony Hall earlier this spring and then recently in the Koussevitzky Music Shed at the Tanglewood in Lenox, MA on August 16. The ninth film and epic conclusion of the Star Wars series, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘ arrives in theatres in December and what better way to welcome the end than by remembering the beginning.
John Williams conducting Film Night at Tanglewood Photo credit to Hilary Scott
Academy award-winning composer John Williams has been the name on everyone’s lips at Tanglewood for the past couple of weeks with ‘Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert‘ on Friday, August 16 and then the ever-popular ‘Film Night’ on August 24, an annual tribute concert featuring just a few of the acclaimed film scores of John Williams. Not only did John Williams make an appearance at the end of the August 16th performance, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft was also in the audience. Click here for more information, tickets, and a look at Tanglewood’s full schedule.
Keith Lockhart leads the Boston Pops at Tanglewood Photo courtesy of Hilary Scott
Conducted by acclaimed Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, The Boston Pops launched an enthusiastic audience into that beloved galaxy with ‘Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope,’ the first film in what would become a beloved series of films in 1977. The rising swell of the perilous, suspenseful, triumphant, and Academy award-winning Star Wars Main Theme from John Williams was just the start of this exciting film that has been thought to be a touchstone to future films in that genre while also possessing some classic Shakespearean roots.
The intense score, each crisp note from the orchestra, the sound that thundered in the Koussevitzky Shed was nothing that can be relived in front of a television screen or in a movie theatre. It felt like being in the studio with the cast, enhancing their already outstanding performances, and scoring the film for the first time.
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo in ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ Photo credit to Disney/Lucasfilm
The lively audience was clearly composed of some of the most devoted Star Wars fans cheering not only the opening of the film, but each major character as they were first introduced onscreen. Familiar faces such as the twinkling eyes and swaggering charisma of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, Peter Mayhew’s towering presence as Chewbacca, Carrie Fisher’s holographic appearance as Princess Leia as she utters the classic line, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my Only Hope,” Alec Guinness as the wise and mysterious Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mark Hamill’s naïve Luke Skywalker, and James Earl Jones as the timeless voice of Darth Vader were all greeted with rousing applause.
Set on the planet with two suns, the subtle humor, the scheming, the epic adventure, George Lucas’s marvelous characters, the dazzling technology of its time, the bickering between R2-D2 and C-3PO and between Han Solo and Princess Leia are all recaptured in this unforgettable cinematic experience.
The Lawn at Tanglewood 2016 Photo credit to Hilary Scott
Located in the Berkshires at 297 West Street in Lenox, Massachusetts and now year-round, Tanglewood’s outdoor venue is a must see, whether under the tent at Koussevitzky Shed or under the stars for a lawn picnic. Click here for Tanglewood’s full schedule follow them on Facebook.
Kicking off with the familiar drumbeat of the 20th Century Fox fanfare performed live before the film’s opening credits, The Boston Pops presented Home Alonein Concert with style and a few surprises as this popular 1990 Christmas comedy film returned to Symphony Hall from December 29 and 30. Much like the Boston Pops’ ‘in concert’ predecessors featuring classic films such as West Side Story, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Nosferatu, Singin’ in the Rain, and Psycho, the Boston Pops enhances the unique tone of each film from score to sound effects, making it an unforgettable cinematic experience. Led by Keith Lockhart, it doesn’t get much better than watching a feature film on the big screen alongside the Boston Pops’ clever orchestration. Click here for more information on the Boston Pops.
It was a particular treat to be greeted by the Wellesley High School Keynote Singers and Rice Street Singers who performed a few lighthearted a capella holiday hits as the audience filed into the Symphony Hall lobby before the film started. The anticipation of Home Alone in Concert was palpable, heightened by an uproarious applause as the film started and enthusiasm that continued throughout the performance.
A heartwarming film full of high jinks and relatable family humor, Home Alone features the McAllister family as they prepare to embark on a Christmas trip to Paris and through a series of unforeseeable circumstances, leave their youngest child, Kevin, portrayed by Macaulay Culkin, home alone. Directed by Christopher Columbus, Home Alone features a hilarious cast that includes the late, great John Candy, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, and John Heard.
From heartwarming to hectic to haunting, Academy award-winning composer John Williams offers a bit of everything in Home Alone’s multi-faceted score. Songs from the film’s soundtrack such as Run Run Rudolph by Chuck Berry and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas by the Drifters are left to the original artists, but John Williams’s compelling score featuring the Academy Award-nominated song, Somewhere in My Memory were performed by the orchestra.
Home Alone writer John Hughes was gifted with the ability to capture the voice of a young generation and he does a remarkable job depicting the perspective of mischievous and utterly adorable Kevin McAllister as he attempts to fend for himself. Though some of the movie is a bit far-fetched, it remains as enjoyable as it was close to 30 years ago before cell phones were a daily part of life.
Holiday Pops presents ‘Home Alone in Concert’ Photo courtesy of Jeanne Denizard
Not only is Home Alone on the verge of celebrating its 30th anniversary since its release, but Macauley Culkin is all grown up and has reemerged recently in a reenactment of pivotal scenes from the original film to demonstrate the magic of Google Assistant. With the same twinkle in his eye, Culkin adds a new dimension to those film scenes while keeping the spirit of the original film intact.
All performances take place at Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets, through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, Massachusetts.
In its 23rd year, The Holiday Pops are in full swing and as festive as ever! Illustration and illumination dominated this year’s performances woven into a wide spectrum of Christmas carols, spiritual hymns, and holiday traditions. Whether it’s the excitement of the all-volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Boston Pops adding their own unique, personal flair, or their highly anticipated sing-along, The Holiday Pops makes it easy to alleviate the stress of the season and happily embrace what truly matters. Sponsored by Fidelity Investments and led by Keith Lockhart, The Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony Hall continues through Christmas Eve. Click here for more information and tickets.
Elegantly adorning the intrinsically-detailed gold balconies are twinkling lights on thick, festive wreaths, just a sampling of the stunning surroundings inside Symphony Hall. During the show, the stage spontaneously came to life with a variety of scenery illuminated above the stage from flickering candles to colorful, dancing snowflakes.
This beautiful performance of Holiday Pops delivered equal doses of reflective material and lightheartedness, the first half playful and spiritual. Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival which included Deck the Halls, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Silent Night kicked off a memorable first half. The Boston Pops orchestra performed a harmonious and airy rendition of Parade of the Wooden Soldiers accompanied by a bright, festive short film created with original artwork and animation by FableVision Studios.
The Holidays Pops reflected on the revelation of Jesus during Shepherd’s Chorus as well as The Festival of Lights in an increasingly uplifting Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah featuring detailed portraits illustrated by children’s book artist, Judith Clark. With stirring excerpts from O Little Town of Bethlehem, What Child is This, Go Tell it On the Mountain, and more, acclaimed baritone David McFerrin narrated The Christmas Story illustrated with Tomie dePaola’s original artwork.
Brimming with beloved classic Christmas carols and guest appearances by Santa and more, the second half of Holiday Pops was a vibrant, yuletide spectacle. While bulbs glowing to the beat, the jolly Tanglewood Festival Chorus delivered a string of Christmas waltzes, singalongs, and more including the annual reading of Clement Charke Moore’s Twas The Night Before Christmas, read enthusiastically by special guest, Boston journalist Janet Wu.
Boston’s charming signature versions of Sleigh Ride and the always clever and amusing 12 Days of Christmas were welcome additions to the mix as Santa Claus made his grand entrance. Holiday Pops concluded with Let There Be Peace on Earth, as Earth shone overhead, brilliantly conveyed the quiet hope for the coming New Year.
The Boston Pops presents the beloved holiday film, ‘Home Alone in Concert’ with live orchestra December 29 and 30. Photo credit to Twentieth Century Fox/Boston Pops
Before ringing in the New Year, The Boston Pops will offer special presentations of Christmas film favorite, Home Alone featuring the music of John Williams with live orchestra at Symphony Hall on December 29 and 30. The Boston Pops will cap off the year with their annual New Year’s Eve concert led by actor, animator, singer, and filmmaker, Seth McFarlane.
All performances take place at Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and tickets, through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, Massachusetts. The Holiday Pops are also available at home with A Boston Pops Christmas: Live from Symphony Hall album through ITunes, Amazon, and Amazon MP3.
The Boston Pops turned up the heat as dancers from Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and America’s Got Talent as well as American Idol finalists joined Academy Award-nominee Lesley Ann Warren as Scott Stander presented Dance to the Movies on June 9 at Symphony Hall. Conducted by renowned Music Director Keith Lockhart and filled with memorable moments from some of Hollywood and Broadway’s most popular films, Dance to the Movieslit the stage as part of Boston Pops 133rd spectacular season. Dedicated to legendary, Lawrence-born composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s centennial this season, click here for upcoming Boston Pops performances including details for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4.
Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops (Winslow Townson)
Before launching into Dance to the Movies, The Boston Pops performed a few remarkable Bernstein selections which included an urgent, masterful orchestration composed by John Williams, a piece first conducted for Bernstein’s 70th anniversary called, To Lenny! To Lenny! The orchestration, with equal parts bursting triumph and quiet contemplation, set the perfect tone for this uplifting show. The Bernstein tribute continued with sparkling and upbeat Overture to Candide and the chiming, peerless orchestration of Bernstein’s spiritual Simple Song from Mass.
Boston Pops John Williams and Leonard Bernstein at Harvard Night at the Pops, June 6, 1989 (Donald Dietz)
Winner of 2017’s Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition and recipient of Harry & Marion Dubbs Brookline Youth Concerts Award, captivating violinist Haig Hovsepian, delivered a passionate and intense solo performance as he played Sibelius’s First Movement: Allegro moderato, from Violin Concerto in D Minor. An especially touching moment occurred when a couple of his proud family members rushed to the stage to congratulate him after he finished his piece.
Puttin’ on the Ritz Photo courtesy of Hilary Scott
Boasting an enormously talented cast, Dance to the Movies offered vintage flair by Bair/Pututau costumes and sizzling footwork, taking on classic numbers like Puttin’ on the Ritz and Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend/Material Girl from the film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Hearkening to the age of Fred Astaire, dancers dressed in gold Lemay cocktail dresses and suits with coat and tails then delivered a double take of dancers dressed in Marilyn Monroe’s signature pink gowns with dripping diamonds respectively. A gorgeously sparkling fringed gown seemed to have a life of its own on Anna Trebunskaya as she swayed with Tristan MacManus to the spicy number, Cuban Pete from the film, The Mask.
Academy Award-nominee Lesley Ann Warren, a television and film veteran known for Cinderella and Clue, delivered a reflective Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a flirtatious version of Blues in the Night from the film by the same name. Warren still has that charismatic charm as she engaged the audience.
Lesley Ann Warren in her Cinderella crown Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops
Dance to the Movies tackled Broadway with dance melodies from Chicago and Grease, which featured a performance by American Idol finalist Vonzell Solomon singing Roxy Hart. Vonzell delivered a show stopping performance singing I’ll Always Love You from The Bodyguard before taking the stage with American Idol finalist Von Smith for a stirring tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch including the songs, Through the Eyes of Love from the film, Ice Castlesand The Way We Were.
Dance to the Movies takes on ‘Chicago’ Photo courtesy of Hilary Scott
One of the most impressive dance performances seemed a dangerous feat to the tune, Unchained Medley from the film, Ghost sung by Von Smith. Featuring Randi Strong and Jonathan Platero, it was a rapturous, athletic number recreating a scene from the film featuring remarkable flips and daring spins. Dirty Dancing’s iconic dance number, (I Had) The Time of My Life, featuring a trio of couples, was a beautiful display complete with The Lift.
American Idol finalist Von Smith Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops
Dedicated to legendary, Lawrence-born composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s centennial this season, click here for upcoming Boston Pops performances including details for the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4. Follow Boston Pops on Twitter and Facebook.
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Over the past 25 years, Boston Pops Gospel Night has stood the test of time as a glorious and revered annual tradition. An illuminated brass backdrop, shining music notes, and a floating, celluloid film strip adorned the Symphony Hall stage while an enthusiastic crowd filed in for this highly-anticipated, one night only, 25th anniversary event.
Each year, Gospel Night features a special blend of acclaimed musical guests, a variety of beloved and new songs from the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, and memorable performances. With multiple Grammy Award-winning singer CeCe Winans, a resounding, patriotic, monumental speech about freedom and peace, and rousing performances from the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, the Boston Pops Gospel Night has certainly outdone itself. It’s an annual concert with toe tapping reverence and a spirited finale that always brings the audience to its feet. Click here for more information on the Boston Pops, upcoming events, and more.
Warmly greeting the crowd and the orchestra was accomplished conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd, who has been conducting Gospel Night for the past 23 years. Click here for a closer look at Charles Floyd and his career. Distinguished looking in a white tuxedo with black pants and a bow tie, Charles Floyd gave an appreciative wave before opening the 25th anniversary concert with Aaron Copland’s spirited Fanfare for the Common Man, as horns blared distinct and clear. It was a mix of tender, powerful, and upbeat melodies that included Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor and Chadwick’s Jubilee, which culminated into a vigorous finish and wondrous applause.
Gospel Night also recognized what would have been the recent 100th birthday of the late President John F. Kennedy by paying tribute to him and also honoring award-winning conductor, John Williams, who was the subject of this year’s Boston Pops season. Young and naturally charismatic Reverend Thomas Crowley who is Senior Pastor of Myrtle Baptist Church, passionately delivered JFK’s famous inaugural address, “Let the Word Go Forth,” a stirring and thrilling speech which remains especially prevalent today. The audience was captivated as the Reverend spoke of freedom, peace, ambition, and achieving the American ideal of brotherhood as musical excerpts of John Williams film score, JFK and Celebration 2000: Journey of John Williams rose underneath.
Legendary, Grammy award-winning Gospel singer CeCe Winans Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops
The excitement for multiple Grammy award-winning singer CeCe Winans was tangible. Dressed in a black and multi-colored floral gown, Cece Winans took the stage to roaring applause. CeCe Winans is a flawless soprano whose vocal tone at times is reminiscent of Whitney Houston. CeCe and Whitney collaborated together for the uplifting song, Count on Me in 1996. With a joyful warmth and tenderness and as the Boston Pops Gospel Choir swayed and clapped, CeCe performed an array of faith-filled songs from her latest album, Let Them Fall in Lovesuch as Run to Him, Dancing in the Spirit, Peace from God, Never Have to Be Alone, and the title track. “Welcome to church,” CeCe exclaimed as she gracefully took the stage. Many of her songs spoke about finding hope in despair, forgiveness, and in the state of the world today, how much we are in need prayer. She concluded with a beautiful cover of Fanny Crosby’s hymn, Blessed Assurance, bringing the crowd to their feet.
Featuring a number impassioned performances from talented soloists, Charles Floyd continued to lead the Boston Pops Gospel Choir. Soloist Suzanne Buell and Raymond Martin opened with upbeat, jubilant renditions of Celebrate followed by Carolyn Saxon and David Grandy singing King of Kings. A particular highlight was Katani Sumner’s powerful, expressive, and bluesy rendition of When Sunday Comes. Katani’s smooth version of the song hinted of Ella Fitzgerald in its delivery.
Each year, Gospel Night offers a grand, spirit-fueled finale. Led by The Boston Pops Gospel Choir Artistic Director Dennis L. Slaughter, it is a party that could go all night long, if only they could. One of the biggest highlights of the evening came from soloist Renese King, who sang a tambourine-infused, rollicking rendition of the classic Gospel hymn, Oh Happy Day. Oh, Happy 25th Anniversary indeed.
For 25 years, the Boston Pops has made Gospel Night a highly-anticipated tradition. A glorious, enthusiastic audience which includes newcomers and returning fans greet Conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd, the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, and a selection of guest artists. This year, multiple Grammy award-winning Gospel singer Cece Winans headlines this special 25th anniversary concert for one night only on Saturday, June 17 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for more information and for tickets to this monumental concert event.
Renowned conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd talks about his longtime role with Gospel Night and its evolution as well as dreams he never imagined coming true.
Renowned conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd leading the Boston Pops Photo courtesy of Stu Rosner/Boston Pops
Sleepless Critic: The Boston Pops Gospel is an incredible event each year. The last time I went, it seemed like the Boston Pops Gospel Choir was a nonstop celebration, joyfully continuing even after the concert was over.
Charles Floyd: Everybody looks forward to that part of the program because it is probably the most energetic. The music can be very exciting and uplifting. We like to feature something that the gospel choir performs without the orchestra. The orchestra wants to go into overtime and that gets into an issue, but if the building is still open, there’s no reason why the choir can’t stay to do a couple more numbers if they enjoy singing and the audience is going to stick around. When the formalities are done, it’s a nice moment when people can just let their hair down.
SC: The concert is so uplifting you don’t want to leave anyway. You have been with Gospel Night for 23 years, almost since its start.
CF: I appeared the second year. I was called because the conductor the first year could not do it the second year. I had to take a year away back in 2004, so this is my 23rd and it’s their 25th, but I am celebrating 25 years just like they are.
SC: It must be amazing to see how it has evolved over the years.
Gospel Night at the Boston Pops Photo courtesy of Stu Rosner/Boston Pops
CF: It’s been an honor to be a part of it. I was working with Miss Natalie Cole for close to 14 years. We had done a few concerts with the Boston Pops, and at the time, Maestro Lockhart and I were in the running in some capacity to step in. Keith got the gig and I was very happy for him. It was great for the community and I was somewhat new, and so they called and asked if I had done that sort of thing. I said I have and only had about 6 weeks’ notice to prepare. It was little bit nerve-wracking to put together an entire program, write orchestration that didn’t exist, and then learn the classics and light classics on top of having to cater to guests artists. We balanced out the program with Keith conducting the first part of the program and I conducted the 3rd part of the program, Rhapsody in Blue. Keith had to be at Tanglewood and other places as the date of Gospel Night moved around. That’s kind of how it happened. When the door opens you walk through or the door might not open again and here we are.
SC: Some of the best things happen spontaneously. This year, CeCe Winans will be the featured artist on Saturday, June 25. Do you have a hand in who performs each year?
CF: I am involved in the process. I don’t always have control over who the artist will be because a certain artist that I may want to work with may not be available, but they are nice enough at the Pops office to ask who they could look into. They come up with their own ideas too. We all put our cards on the table and explore the possibilities. CeCe is big in the Gospel world and was available. We’re really excited to have her as our guest.
Legendary, Grammy award-winning Gospel singer CeCe Winans Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops
SC: Will there be any surprises on this 25th anniversary celebration?
CF: I don’t think I’ll be flying in from the balcony on a cable, but we do have a few things. (Laughs) The first part of the program is mostly Americana. We’ll start the program with Fanfare for The Common Man. It recently would have been JFK’s 100th birthday. Maybe the first part will feature the music of John Williams edited together and text added from the speeches of the late president JFK called, Let the Word go Forth. Some of the music by John Williams will accompanying the narration is from the movie, JFK. We are just going to celebrate a little Americana with CeCe Winans and the choir is going to perform some favorites over the past 25 years. We may never get out of there. (Laughs)
SC: It is fitting since the Boston Pops season is dedicated to John Williams this year.
CF: Absolutely. Tying the program together with Boston Pops tradition as well as the Gospel music tradition and its history has been a challenge and a lot of fun. I look forward to it as well as some many other people.
Acclaimed composer and conductor John Williams leads Film Night Photo courtesy of Stu Rosner/Boston Pops
SC: I’m glad you have been part of the Gospel Night tradition for 23 years and I know you performed all over the world. Music has been a part of your life since you were 4.
CF: That’s when I finally got to a piano. I used to bang on cables and pretend like I was playing. Everybody thought it was so cute. By the time I got to a piano, I was 4 and I was already taking out melodies and ordering things by year. It was another six months before I started taking formal lessons, but yeah, music has been a part of my entire life.
You never know what life is going to hold when you are young. Just because you start playing the piano no matter how good or bad you are at it, there is no guarantee of what the future will hold. I took physics and journalism just as a back up in high school, but once I got to college, I dedicated myself completely to music and didn’t try to be a master of all trades. All through 10 years of conservatory and grad school, it was all piano. I was not a conducting major and I found myself in a situation where a conductor was needed, I was the only person who could step in at the time, so I got serious about conducting. I started studying all kinds of things such as opera, had to go through all the symphonies and all the major works of all the major composers. I learned so much about accompanying singers with the baton from listening and attending operas. I played for singers my entire life, but to watch a conductor accompany a singer is something I don’t think a lot of people really appreciate at least the way that I did and what I learned from it. It’s been fun and as long as the work keeps coming in, that’s the greatest thing. Just to keep going.
Charles Floyd and Melinda Doolittle perform on Gospel Night in 2010. Photo courtesy of Stu Rosner/Boston Pops
CF: I was trying to explain it to my sister and family not long ago. People talk about having their dreams come true. My situation is a little backwards. It’s not a question of my dreams not coming true, but most everything that has transpired in my career were things I never dreamed of in the first place. If I had said when I was eight years old that in 2017, I would be celebrating 25 years at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops or working with an orchestra at Carnegie Hall with James Taylor and Sting or sitting at an event next to Harry Belafonte or conducting orchestras for Natalie Cole or playing the piano for somebody else. These are usually once in a lifetime events and I’m grateful that they continue to happen. New things are coming in all the time and I couldn’t be more grateful and happier.
Click here for Gospel Night tickets, call SymphonyCharge at 1-888-266-1200, or visit the Symphony Hall box office during business hours at 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow The Boston Pops on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
What does an underwater predator and an alien paired with Mozart, Mahler, Sondheim, and some of the biggest names in music have in common? They are arriving at Tanglewood this summer.
John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris,and Carlene Carter perform in Tanglewood July 1 Courtesy of BSO Publicity photo
Overlooking stunning views in the Berkshires, the Koussevitzky Music Shed will once again deliver a wide variety of entertainment on Tanglewood’s stage. Featuring legendary music guests such as Sting, Diana Ross, Emmylou Harris, James Taylor and more, Tanglewood’s season kicks off with renowned BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons leading the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2, Resurrection on Friday, July 7. The season concludes with The Boston Pops featuring Melissa Etheridge on Sunday, September 3. Performances are held at Koussevitzky Music Shed in Lenox, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets and further information.
As the Boston Pops season celebrates the movie magic of acclaimed composer John Williams, Tanglewood delivers a few gems from this year’s Boston Pops season. That underwater predator is none other than Jaws as Keith Lockhart conducts the Boston Pops in John Williams’ Academy Award-winning score live along with the film screening. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Jaws in Concertarrives just before summer on Sunday, June 18. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, another Spielberg classic getting the screening live with orchestra treatment is E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial in Concert on Friday, August 25. Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops will perform the Academy award-winning score by John Williams.
The Legendary Diana Ross performs on Wednesday, August 30 Photo courtesy of Al Watson/BSO
Throughout the season, Tanglewood offers a wide array of classical works from Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, and much more. Located at 297 West Street in Lenox, Massachusetts, the Tanglewood season also includes special music presentations with Underscore Fridays. Ticket packages are available and attendees under age 40 can get tickets for just 20 dollars. Click here for further details. Click here for the entire Tanglewood schedule and tickets or call SymphonyCharge at 1-888-266-1200. Like Tanglewood Music Festival on Facebook for all the latest updates.
Sometimes the most tremendous talent is located right in the backyard. Responsible for a wealth of critically-acclaimed and celebrated music scores over a career that spans six decades and beyond, Boston Pops Laureate conductor John Williams has been nominated for 50 Academy Awards, winning five. Legendary film scores for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Jaws as well as the Olympic Fanfare and theme and NBC Sunday Night Football are just a glimpse of the spectacular works by the incomparable John Williams.
In honor of John’s 85th birthday and his incredible accomplishments over the years, The Boston Pops dedicate their season to Celebrating John Williams from Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday, June 17 at Boston Symphony Hall. The season will kick off with multi-talented actress and singer Queen Latifah from Wednesday, May 10 to Thursday, May 11 and finishing off with the 25th anniversary of Gospel Night on Saturday, June 17.
Queen Latifah opens the Boston Pops season Photo courtesy of Boston Pops
The Boston Pops also offers a pre-season concert series hosted by Indiana Jones star, Karen Allen and the live recording of Boston Pops CD release on Friday, April 7. Click here for Boston Pops tickets and here for more information on upcoming BSO concerts.
The Boston Pops presents the always phenomenal and wildly-popular Gospel Night once again led by Charles Floyd and the return of Film Night with John Williams. Click here for a full list of performances.
Leslie Odom, Jr from Hamilton will perform with the Boston Pops Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops
Click here for tickets, call SymphonyCharge at 1-888-266-1200, or visit the Symphony Hall box office during business hours at 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow The Boston Pops on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Woven into a wide spectrum of Christmas carols, spiritual hymns, and holiday music capped off with a rousing sing-along, is the stuff that makes the Holiday Pops so appealing each year. Whether it’s through the excitement of the all volunteer Tanglewood Festival Chorus or maestro Keith Lockhart sharing his own Christmas memories, The Boston Pops adds their own unique, personal flair to each heartfelt performance, making it easy to alleviate the stress of the season and happily embrace what truly matters each year. In its 21st season, The Holiday Pops at Boston Symphony Hall continues through December 31. The Boston Pops also offers special presentations of the film, “Back to the Future” with live orchestra and New Year’s Eve led by acclaimed bandleader, Bo Winiker. Click here for more information and for tickets.
Elegantly adorning the intrinsically-detailed gold balconies are white, twinkling lights and multi-colored bulbs on thick, festive wreaths, just a sampling of the stunning, festive surroundings inside Symphony Hall. The hall also offers its share of playful, humorous decor including orchestra harps topped off with Santa hats. During the show, the stage spontaneously came to life with a variety of scenery reflected above the stage, from flickering candles to sweeping, dancing snowflakes. Holiday Pops also featured a stirring presentation of winter scenes created by visual artist and astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado, PhD. With a lit sky swirling violet with chiming bells, the presentation’s depiction the Northern lights to the song, The Adoration of the Magi from Three Botticelli Pictures lent a mystical, peaceful tone.
This powerful performance of Holiday Pops offered equal doses of reflective material and lightheartedness, the first half insightful and striking. A Christmas prelude that included Hark the Harold Angels Sing, kicked off a reflective, wondrous first half woven in with maestro Keith Lockhart’s personal reflections of the holiday season such as a wonderful story about his father. A lullaby sounding Christmas oratorio, Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light followed by the Hanukkah song, Light One Candle depicted sacrifice, unity, and hope. Holiday Pops also offered a jubilant calypso of Mary’s Little Boy Child, as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, dressed splendidly in black and white, playfully swayed to the beat.
Brimming with beloved classic Christmas carols and guest appearances by Santa and more, the second half of Holiday Pops was a vibrant, yuletide spectacle of Christmas cheer. While old fashioned Christmas bulbs glowed to the beat, The jolly Tanglewood Festival Chorus delivered a string of Christmas waltzes, singalongs, and more including the annual reading of Clement Charke Moore’s Twas The Night Before Christmas by special guest, NBC Boston’s Melody Mendez. Boston’s delightful, signature versions of Sleigh Ride and the incredible and amusing 12 Days of Christmas were welcome additions to the mix as Santa Claus expertly conducted the rousing Chorus. Holiday Pops gave a final encore of Let There Be Peace on Earth, as Earth shone overhead, brilliantly conveyed the quiet hope for the upcoming New Year.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has a tremendous lineup in the New Year! All performances take place at Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets to any of BSO’s upcoming performances, through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, Massachusetts. Listen to the Holiday Pops at home with “A Boston Pops Christmas: Live from Symphony Hall” album available through ITunes, Amazon, and Amazon MP3.