Having celebrated his twentieth anniversary as Boston Pops Conductor in 2015, Keith Lockhart is the second longest-tenured conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra since its founding in 1885. He took over as conductor in 1995, following John Williams’s thirteen-year tenure from 1980 to 1993; Mr. Williams succeeded the legendary Arthur Fiedler, who was at the helm of the orchestra for nearly fifty years. During his tenure, Keith Lockhart has significantly expanded the orchestra’s programming, focused on national annual touring, and participated in major media events. He has solidified the Pops’s place in the fabric of the New England community and has led the Boston Pops in countless performance situations. The list of more than 250 guest artists with whom he has collaborated is a virtual “who’s who” of performers and pop culture icons.
Keith Lockhart has conducted more than 1,700 Boston Pops concerts, most of which have taken place during the orchestra’s spring and holiday seasons in Boston’s historic Symphony Hall. Mr. Lockhart has also led annual Boston Pops appearances at Tanglewood, forty national tours to 134 cities in 33 states, and four international tours to Japan and Korea. He and the Pops have participated in such high-profile sporting events as Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2008 NBA finals, the 2013 Boston Red Sox Ring Ceremony, and the Red Sox Opening Day game at Fenway Park in 2009. The annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular—which drew a live audience of approximately 500,000 in 2015—was featured on national network television through 2013; live webcasts of the 2014 and 2015 events garnered a cumulative 4 million viewers.
Mr. Lockhart has led eight albums on the RCA Victor/BMG Classics label, including two—The Celtic Album and The Latin Album—that earned Grammy nominations. Recent releases on Boston Pops Recordings include The Red Sox Album, A Boston Pops Christmas–Live from Symphony Hall, and The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers—featuring narrators Robert De Niro, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Cherry Jones—which was a Boston Pops commission premiered in 2010 during the orchestra’s 125th season.
Programming-wise, Keith Lockhart has put an increased focus on musical theater, attracting such leading Broadway artists as Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Kelli O’Hara, and Billy Porter to the Pops stage. He has worked closely with hundreds of talented young musicians, including Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, college students from the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music, and area high school students. He introduced the PopSearch talent competition and the innovative JazzFest and EdgeFest series, featuring prominent jazz and indie artists performing with the Pops. He is dedicated to building and updating the Boston Pops library of music, which contains over five thousand exclusive arrangements. Initiated in 2015 and returning this year are “Pops on Demand” concerts, during which audience members can “choose the tunes” and vote on what Mr. Lockhart and the orchestra play, using a new interactive tool that tracks the results in real time.
With a renewed commitment to bring the Boston Pops into the Boston community and to important civic events, Keith Lockhart and the Pops have appeared at gubernatorial and mayoral inauguration ceremonies; the annual tree lighting in Boston’s Public Garden; sporting events including Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics games; and the memorial service for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. He has led free concerts in such major public spaces as Boston Common and Franklin Park, and each holiday season brings members of the Pops to play for patients at Children’s Hospital.
Perhaps the most significant key to Keith Lockhart’s success is his ability to connect passionately with audiences through his engaging programs, his commitment to speaking directly from the stage with fascinating insights into the music, and his inherent understanding of the importance of what sets the Pops experience apart from a traditional orchestra concert—an atmosphere of music-making that is both fun and entertaining for music lovers of all ages.
In addition to occupying the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor chair, Keith Lockhart currently serves as principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in London, which he led in the June 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II, and as artistic director of the Brevard Music Center summer institute and festival in North Carolina. Prior to his BBC appointment, he spent eleven years as music director of the Utah Symphony, which he led at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He has appeared as a guest conductor with virtually every major symphonic ensemble in North America, as well as several in Asia and Europe. Prior to coming to Boston, he was the associate conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras, as well as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, Keith Lockhart began his musical studies with piano lessons at the age of seven. He holds degrees from Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University, and honorary doctorates from several American universities. Visit keithlockhart.com for further information.
Affectionately known as "America's Orchestra" in 2016 the Boston Pops enters its 131st season of entertaining audiences in Boston and beyond. Arthur Fiedler’s 50-year tenure as Pops Conductor (1929-1979), established the Boston Pops as a national icon. John Williams (1980-1993), who succeeded Arthur Fiedler in 1980 is the most highly acclaimed composer in Hollywood, and today, with 50 Academy Award nominations, he is the most-nominated living person in Academy history. Keith Lockhart (1995-present) has created programs that reach out to a broader and younger audience by presenting artists—both established performers and rising stars—from virtually every corner of the entertainment world, all the while maintaining the Pops’ appeal to its core audience. The Boston Pops performs for an audience of nearly 900,000 people annually in Boston, across the country and around the world, and reaches millions more through its recordings and television broadcasts. For more information, visit www.bostonpops.org.