Enveloped amongst hundreds of eager concert goers, surrounded by the glistening chandeliers above, and hypnotized by the smells of hors d’oeuvres summarized the moments leading up to the Opening Night of the Boston Pops. Women in sparkles, wives in lace, men in suits with a sultry smirk on their face. The musicians made their way onto the Symphony Hall stage, both eager and calm, warming up until the concertmaster stood to tune at 8:05 pm. Keith Lockhart glided downstage, warmly addressing the audience for the 133rd year of the Boston Pops. The first half of the performance attended to a brief history of the life of Leonard Bernstein, as well as a representation of his achievements in his 72 years. Lockhart introduced each new work with a brief history as to where it was situated in Bernstein’s compositional output and overall significance in history. Some, including “Mambo” from West Side Story, were accompanied by visual effects and videos. In this case, a montage of dance from movies throughout the past century was carefully timed to the orchestra’s live performance. Each new piece had a timed lighting cue, enhancing the ambience of the evening overall. Legato lines whooshed past, and staccato, pianissimo phrases encouraged audience members to lean in a bit closer. Lasting exactly one hour, the program ended with as much excitement as it began, if not even more. Many young people scattered the audience, and one look at the program for the second half proved such an observation.
Pop sensation Andy Grammer was to perform selections from his music for the next hour. As the members of the audience returned and Grammer walked out onto the stage, the environment within the hall changed immediately from Friday evening opera goer to teen heartthrob arena. I, having been a member of both of these groups growing up, found it encouraging to see a pop music star collaborate with a full, well respected, live orchestra. Grammer, who seemed to connect with members of the audience even more than Lockhart, addressed the importance of both vocal music and orchestra music alone respectively, but the power that they may bring as a force, together. The connection established with members of the audience who could be identified as stereotypical enjoyers of “stuffy” classical music, and their inherent interest in new music should not be overlooked. This performance perhaps brought music lovers to symphony hall that may have never listened as deeply to classical music as before that evening, and introduced especially an older generation to the current trends of the day. It also must have been a startling, though comfortable environment for Grammer, where instead of a large arena or convention center, he was able to share his passion for music with a different crowd–the true meaning of music.