Pops in the Park
The Boston Pops to host free music & arts festival in Franklin Park this weekend
This Sunday, Sept. 30 at 3 p.m., the Boston Pops presents a free concert and community arts festival at the Playstead in Franklin Park. Last year’s inaugural concert was the first time the Pops had performed in Franklin Park in 17 years. Pops conductor Keith Lockhart says, “I continue to be amazed by the patchwork quilt that is Boston. It reminds me that we need to get out into the community more. I hope these concerts are the gateway to more community involvement.”
The musical program, conducted by Lockhart and BSO Youth and Family Concerts Conductor Thomas Wilkins, is designed to illustrate how vibrant and contemporary orchestra music can be. “We wanted to make sure we had a variety of repertoire for a diverse audience,” says Wilkins. The performance includes a tribute to Leonard Bernstein, composer of classics like “West Side Story” and “Candide,” in honor of the centennial of his birth. The Boston Pops Gospel Choir will join the orchestra for a few uplifting numbers and the orchestra will perform a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin. Project STEP student violinist Isabel Garita-Chin will also appear on stage with the orchestra.
The Pops musicians aren’t the only ones performing at the festival. Community performances will precede the Pops concert, including Kotoko Brass, masters of an infectious, improvisational style of West African dance music inspired by the drum rhythms of Ghana. Latin band Clave and Blues will also be bringing the audience to their feet with Timba, Salsa and Latin Jazz.
While the bands’ rhythms wash over the park, festival-goers can help paint an interactive mural, make crafts, explore the instrument playground and observe live animal demonstrations. The spectrum of family-friendly activities will be provided by local organizations including the Boston Children’s Museum, Franklin Park Zoo, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Franklin Park Coalition and Artists for Humanity. Food vendors from CommonWealth Kitchen, a collaborative shared-space food incubator, will offer refreshments throughout the festival.
Lockhart and Wilkins were impressed with the turnout and community spirit of the 2017 concert in the park. They hope continuing the tradition will foster a deeper connection between the orchestra and the communities outside of the symphony’s home at Symphony Hall. Wilkins says, “I hope they have a deeper understanding that the BSO is their orchestra. It’s not just for certain types of people. … It’s their home team.”