2022 Holiday Pops features diverse, multicultural program
Every December, the Boston Holiday Pops concerts ring in the festive season with carols, holiday stories and an appearance by Santa Claus. But in addition to the traditions that symphony-goers cherish, conductor Keith Lockhart brings in new, diverse components to the program every year. For the 2022 season, that includes a rendition of “Noche de Posadas,” by Mexican-American composer Arturo Rodriguez.
The inspiration for this piece came from images by children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola, who passed away in 2020. dePaola had worked with the Pops before, and Lockhart was hoping for another partnership. The illustrator spent quite a bit of a time in Mexico, inspired by Mexican folk art, and had drawn a rendition of the Las Posadas tradition.
In this tradition, two townspeople dress up as Mary and Joseph and go door to door looking for a place to stay. Per the Christian story, they are denied time and time again. When they finally find a place to rest for the birth of Jesus, the town square erupts in celebration.
“It’s a beautiful tradition,” says Lockhart. “One of the things that strikes me about it is that it focuses on a part of the Nativity story that I’ve never focused on. It’s basically, in the parlance of our time, housing insecurity.”
During the Holiday Pops concerts, dePaola’s images will show on a screen in time with Rodriguez’s composition, creating a visual and auditory story experience.
The “Noche de Posadas” experience is just part of what’s to come this year.
“There’s a lot that’s new on this program,” says Lockhart. “As I looked at it, I realized that in the first half of the program alone, the chorus is singing in five different languages.”
In addition to this Mexican celebration, the Pops will play a selection of Ukrainian carols in homage to the ongoing conflict in the country. This program includes the famous “Carol of the Bells,” a piece by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych that originated from a folk chant. A modern carol by Tanglewood choral director James Burton will top off the program.
“One of the things that I value most about the holiday season is that it is a time of music, to the extent that people who would never open their mouths to sing in public at any other time of the year suddenly burst forth into song,” says Lockhart. “I think that that has to do with the wonderful ability of music to express things within our hearts that go beyond your words.”