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Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra Keith Lockhart, conductor

Special Guests:

Michael Cavanaugh, Melinda Doolittle, Sons of Serendip, Boston Crusaders, Michelle Brooks-Thompson, USO Show Troupe


Keith Lockhart, conductor

Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor, endowed in perpetuity

Keith Lockhart became the twentieth conductor of the Boston Pops in 1995, adding his artistic vision to the Pops tradition established by his predecessors John Williams and Arthur Fiedler. Mr. Lockhart holds the Julian and Eunice Cohen Boston Pops Conductor chair. He has worked with a wide array of established artists from virtually every corner of the entertainment world, while also promoting programs that focus on talented young musicians from the Tanglewood Music Center, Boston Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music. During his nineteen-year tenure, he has conducted more than 1,500 Boston Pops concerts and introduced the innovative JazzFest and EdgeFest series, featuring prominent jazz and indie artists performing with the Pops. Mr. Lockhart has also introduced concert performances of full-length Broadway shows, including Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and the PopSearch and High School Sing-Off competitions. Under his leadership, the Boston Pops has commissioned several new works-including The Dream Lives On, a tribute to the Kennedy brothers, which was premiered in May 2010 during the 125th anniversary season-and dozens of new arrangements.

Audiences worldwide love Keith Lockhart’s inimitable style, expressed not only through his consummate music-making, but also by his unique ability to speak directly to the audience about the music to which he feels so passionately committed. He and the Boston Pops have released five self-produced recordings-2013′s A Boston Pops Christmas-Live from Symphony Hall, as well as Sleigh Ride, America, Oscar & Tony, and The Red Sox Album-and also recorded eight albums with RCA Victor-Runnin’ Wild: The Boston Pops Play Glenn MillerAmerican Visions, the Grammy-nominated The Celtic AlbumHoliday PopsA Splash of PopsEncore!, the Latin Grammy-nominated The Latin Album, and My Favorite Things: A Richard Rodgers Celebration. Keith Lockhart has made 74 television shows with the Boston Pops, including a 2009 concert featuring jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, and special guests Sting, John Mayer, and Steven Tyler, and the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, broadcast nationally for many years on on the A&E and CBS television networks. He has also led many Holiday Pops telecasts, as well as 38 new programs for PBS’s Evening at Pops (1970-2004). He has led the Boston Pops on 39 national tours, as well as performances at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, and brought the music of “America’s Orchestra” overseas in four tours of Japan and Korea. Mr. Lockhart has led the Boston Pops in the national anthem for numerous major sports events.

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. He has appeared as a guest conductor with virtually every major symphonic ensemble in North America, as well as several in Asia and Europe. He was music director of the Utah Symphony from 1998 to 2009, and led that orchestra in performances at the 2002 Olympic Games, as well as on its first European tour in two decades. 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 for further information.

Michael CavanaughMichael Cavanaugh, Special Guest

Michael Cavanaugh is the New Voice of the American Rock & Roll Songbook. A charismatic performer, musician and actor, made famous for his piano/lead vocals in the Broadway Musical Movin’ Out.

Michael Cavanaugh was handpicked by Billy Joel to star in title role and evokes a style rivaling the Piano Man. Michael appeared in the show for 3 years and over 1200 performances, receiving accolade after accolade, which culminated in 2003 with both Grammy and Tony award nominations.

Michael began playing at age 7, when his parents bought their first piano.  Encouraged by family and friends, and inspired by his hero Billy Joel, Michael formed his first band at age 10 and began playing local functions, fine-tuning the craft that would become his chosen career. His first full time gig as a musician was an extended engagement in Orlando Florida at a piano bar called Blazing Pianos. In January of 1999, Michael received an offer that would unknowingly change his life, with an opportunity to play Las Vegas at the famed “New York, New York Hotel and Casino.” It was there that Billy Joel spotted Michael and joined him on stage one fateful night of February 2001.  It only took 2 songs before Billy was convinced that he had found his new Piano Man, Michael Cavanaugh. Michael closed up shop at New York, New York and moved to New York City to work alongside Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp, to shape the Broadway Musical that would be called “Movin’ Out”.

With the close of Movin’ Out at the end of 2005, Michael began touring in his own right, creating a show that reinterprets the modern pop/rock songbook. Michael soon became one of the hottest artist’s in the corporate/events market.  He continues to perform worldwide for company and charity events as well as sporting events including PGA tour events, the US Open, the Indy 500.  It wasn’t long before Symphony Orchestras discovered Michael’s talents and audience appeal. He accepted his first orchestral booking, “Michael Cavanaugh – The Songs of Billy Joel and more” which debuted in April of 2008 with the Indianapolis Symphony and continues to tour.  In October 2008, he signed with Warner/ADA to distribute his first CD titled “In Color”. In June, 2010, Michael debuted his second symphony show in the “Generations of Rock” series entitled “Michael Cavanaugh: The Songs of Elton John and more” and  then debuted his third symphony show “Singers and Songwriters: the music of Paul Simon, Neil Diamond and James Taylor” in 2012.  He continues to tour all three symphony productions.

Melinda DoolittleMelinda Doolittle, Special Guest

Melinda became a household name on season six of American Idol continues thrilling audiences with her powerhouse vocals and charm.

In 2013 alone, Melinda was featured on 5 studio albums, including her sophomore release You’re The Reason. Her latest album offers listeners a true glimpse into Doolittle as an Artist, as she wrote and performed half of the songs on the album. Melinda told the Hollywood Reporter that she approached the album “from the aspect of love. It’s what shapes my life daily. I wanted to be transparent and honest.”

Her debut album, Coming Back to You (2009), garnered rave reviews from critics, including The New York Times which hailed Melinda as one of the most ‘phenomenally gifted’ singers in years.  The album recalls the magic and luster of R&B’s classic artists and features production by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Mangini. Recorded with the highest caliber musicians from the musical epicenters of Nashville and New York City, Coming Back to You soars as a soul-baring tour de force with Melinda transforming lively soul, jazz, pop and R&B stylings into a definitive collection of songs that urge the listener to come back again and again.

In 2010 Melinda released her inspirational book;  Beyond Me:Finding Your Way to Life’s Next Level, Doolittle recounts the life lessons that have shaped who she is today.  Illustrated by poignant, often humorous stories, the lessons and “Mommyisms” provide practical guidance to overcoming personal obstacles and achieving the next level in any area of life. Tone deaf as a child, Melinda’s choir teacher would plead with her not to sing, but just silently move her mouth. Undaunted, her love of singing drove her to enter a talent show in the 7th grade, and after much practice and prayer, she stunned the audience with her miraculously spot-on vocals and beautiful voice.  She never looked back.

Melinda went on to graduate with a music degree from Belmont University in Nashville, TN and hone her skills as a background singer with the Gospel group Anointed.  She eventually carved out a niche in the Nashville music scene, singing background for musical legends such as Michael McDonald, Aretha Franklin, and Aaron Neville, before finishing third on the sixth season of American Idol.

“Idol was an amazing experience for me,” says Melinda.  “I learned so much about myself and made lifelong friendships.  It has also provided me with unimaginable opportunities to sing music I love and have a platform to make a difference.” Since her time on Idol, Melinda has wowed audiences everywhere from the White House to the Musicians Hall of Fame, from the Kennedy Center to Carnegie Hall.  She has gone on to share the stage with some of the very artists for whom she sang background as well as music luminaries such as Peter Cetera, Cyndi Lauper, and the renowned Boston Pops Orchestra.

In 2011, contributing to her love of children, Melinda blazed new trails as the first African American character on a Veggie Tales release.  Veggie Tales, the tremendously popular children’s cartoon features Melinda as ‘Cassie Cassava’ in ‘Twas The Night Before Easter.  “I love children and have been blessed to be a part of wonderful organizations that strive to give them the best future possible,” Melinda explains.  “There’s no greater reward than seeing pure joy on a child’s face.”  Melinda’s love for music is eclipsed only by her love of giving back, as she dedicates much of her time to working with numerous charities, especially those that center on improving the lives of children; including the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and The League, which promotes involvement in community service among children.  She also works extensively with Malaria No More, and has traveled to Africa twice, once as a presidential delegate and once with former First Lady Laura Bush, bringing awareness to the preventable disease that takes the lives of over one million children under the age of five, every year.

Sons of SerendipSons of Serendip, Special Guests

The Sons of Serendip is a musical group of four friends, who through a series of serendipitous events, came together in graduate school at Boston University. Micah Christian, a former teacher from Randolph, MA, is the lead vocalist of the group; Cordaro Rodriguez, a former attorney from Charlotte, NC, is the pianist and guitarist; Kendall Ramseur, a performer, cello instructor and former grocery clerk from Charlotte, NC, is the cellist and vocalist; and Mason Morton, formerly a teacher from Atlanta, GA, is the harpist for the quartet. They have each been playing their instruments since childhood, but recently, they came together to begin what they hope will be a long beautiful journey of creating music that touches people’s hearts. In 2014 the Sons of Serendip were finalists on America’s Got Talent. Their debut album was just released earlier this year and hit the billboard charts in 12 different categories including: Heatseekers – Northeast region at #1, Heatseekers – Mountain region at #2, Internet Album at #14, Independent Album at #20, and Top Current Album. Look out for their new single “Firework” as well as their Christmas album, which will be released this November.

Boston CrusadersBoston Crusaders, Special Guests

This year’s program will also include a performance by the Boston Crusaders. The Boston Crusaders celebrate their 75th Anniversary this year. Founded in 1940, its the third-oldest junior drum and bugle corps in the nation and is proud to be a founding member of Drum Corps International. The Boston Crusaders are comprised of 150 young women and men ages 15-22.  Brass players, percussionists and color guard members travel over 10,000 miles each summer, performing in more than 40 competitions and exhibitions before a combined audience of over 300,000 fans. For more information on the Boston Crusaders please visit:

Michelle Brooks-ThompsonMichelle Brooks-Thompson, Special Guest

Gospel recording artist Michelle Brooks-Thompson was born in Boston, MA. Michelle, a musical prodigy, started singing at an early age in the choir at her grandfather’s church and later in a trio group with her mother and aunt. She attended Mount Holyoke College and while there she founded the first Five Colleges Gospel Choir and formed the colleges own series of Gospel Explosion concerts. In 2006, she earned a B.A. in music with a concentration in Vocal Performance and piano with a minor in Religion. She was accepted into Boston’s Berklee College of Music for a Performance Diploma program to further her music studies, but she declined in order to independently pursue her professional music career. Since a teenager her vocal abilities have often been compared to that of the late great Whitney Houston. Her voice is leveled with some of the greatest and legendary gospel artists. Over the years she has sang backup for various gospel recording artists & opened shows for national contemporary Christian & Gospel recording artists. She has performed the National Anthem at Collegiate and professional sporting events including Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox and at Gillette Stadium for the NFL New England Patriots 2014 AFC Game. In 2012, Michelle was a finalist on Season 3 of NBC’s The Voice. Currently, she is finalizing her first gospel EP entitled My Life’s Testimony featuring her already released single “He Will Do It.”  Her single “When I Think” is now available to stream via Soundcloud. For more information visit

USO Show TroupeUSO Show Troupe

USO Show Troupe is part of an entertainment tradition that goes back more than seventy years to its beginnings in the muddy camp shows of the South Pacific. Today, the pride and passion that fueled that early music lives on through the USO Show Troupe. With over 350 live annual performances, the Troupe entertains approximately 600,000 troops and family members around the world. The USO Show Troupe is comprised of 56 professional performers possessing extensive Broadway and off-Broadway, credits, hailing from shows such as Les MiserablesThe Phantom of The OperaHoneymoon in VegasWest Side StoryA Chorus LinePippinSister Act, and Spiderman: Turn Off The Darkto name a few. In addition to their patriotic performances the USO Show Troupe has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy FallonThe Ellen Degeneres ShowFOX and Friends, and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve with Ryan Seacrest. They have also performed with Katy Perry, Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, The Band Perry, Toby Keith, and Blake Shelton. Performances are produced in collaboration with award-winning writers, arrangers, and choreographers, and costumes by Broadway costume designers and internationally recognized fashion and costume designers. The group’s broad repertoire includes patriotic and big band favorites, music of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, disco, Motown, country, Broadway, and current Top 40 hits.

BostonPopsHistoryIn 1900 These Performances Officially Became Pops
(Short for “Popular”) Concerts

The Boston Pops Orchestra performs the best music of the past and present, appealing to the widest possible audience with a broad spectrum of styles, from jazz to pop, indie rock to big band, film music to the great American songbook, and Broadway to classical, making it the perfect orchestra for people who don’t know they like orchestras!”
-Keith Lockhart

Affectionately known as “America’s Orchestra,” the Boston Pops is the most recorded and arguably the most beloved orchestra in the country, beginning with the establishment of the modern-era Pops by Arthur Fiedler and continuing through the innovations introduced by John Williams and the new-millennium Pops spearheaded by Keith Lockhart. In 2010, with the 125th anniversary season, the Boston Pops reached a landmark moment in a remarkable history that began with its founding in 1885. Fours years earlier, in 1881, Civil War veteran Henry Lee Higginson founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra, calling its establishment “the dream of my life.” From the start he intended to present, in the warmer months, concerts of light classics and the popular music of the day. From a practical perspective, Higginson realized that these “lighter” performances would provide year-round employment for his musicians. The “Promenade Concerts,” as they were originally called, were soon informally known as “Popular Concerts,” which eventually became shortened to “Pops,” the name officially adopted in 1900. The following year the orchestra performed for the first time in its new home, Symphony Hall. Not only is this performance space acoustically outstanding, it was also designed, at Higginson’s insistence, so that the rows of seats for Boston Symphony concerts could be replaced by tables and chairs for Pops concerts.

Some people may not realize that there were seventeen Pops conductors, beginning with the German Adolf Neuendorff, who preceded Arthur Fiedler, the first American-born musician to lead the orchestra. In his nearly 50-year tenure as Pops Conductor (1930-1979), Arthur Fiedler established the Boston Pops as a national icon. He moved the Pops beyond its origins in light-classical music into the world of pop culture, showcasing the popular artists of the day as well as the work of young American composers and arrangers. Mr. Fiedler organized the first free outdoor orchestral concerts on the Charles River Esplanade that led to Boston’s now-famous Fourth of July concert, established the Pops as the most recorded orchestra in history-including the best-seller “Jalousie”-and introduced the Evening at Pops television series, bringing the orchestra into the living rooms of countless Americans.

When John Williams (1980-1993) succeeded Arthur Fiedler, he was the most highly acclaimed composer in Hollywood, and today, with 49 Academy Award nominations, he is the most-nominated living person in Academy history. With the Pops, Mr. Williams continued the orchestra’s prolific recording tradition with a series of best-selling albums for the Philips and Sony Classical labels, broadened and updated the Pops repertoire-commissioning new compositions and introducing new arrangements of Boston Pops classics- and entertained audiences with live orchestral accompaniment to film clips of memorable movie scenes, many of which featured iconic music from his own film scores. He traveled extensively with the Pops both nationally and internationally, leading the Pops on its first tours to Japan. Mr. Williams also brought a bit of Hollywood to the Pops stage, with special appearances by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Frank Langella, not to mention Darth Vader, R2D2, and C3PO.

Having led more than 1,500 Boston Pops concerts, Keith Lockhart (1995-present) is now in his nineteenth season as Boston Pops Conductor. In response to the ever-diversifying trends in music, Keith Lockhart has taken the Pops in new directions, creating 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. He has made 74 television shows, led 37 national and four overseas tours with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and recorded eleven albums. Mr. Lockhart’s tenure has been marked by a dramatic increase in touring, the orchestra’s first Grammy nominations, the first major network national broadcast (on CBS Television) of the Fourth-of-July spectacular from the Esplanade, and the release of the Boston Pops’ first self-produced and self-distributed recordings. He has also led the Boston Pops at several high profile sports events, including the pre-game show of NFL’s Super Bowl XXXVI with the New England Patriots, the national anthem for the 2008 NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics, and the opening game of MLB’s 2007 World Series, at Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox.

The focus of the 128th Boston Pops Spring season was music for the movies, ranging from Hollywood’s Golden Age to today’s blockbusters. “Fantasia in Concert” drew upon selections featured in the original groundbreaking 1940 Disney feature and in Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., were showcased in “Pixar in Concert.” Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams returned for “Film Night,” leading music from his own Oscar-nominated score to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. For the Pops’ tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, vocalists Donna McKechnie, Jodi Benson, and Doug LaBrecque performed some of Mr. Hamlisch’s most memorable tunes from both stage and screen. Matthew Morrison (Glee) and Megan Hilty (Smash)-Broadway performers who are also making their mark in television series-brought their considerable talents to the Symphony Hall stage. Broadway star and Seinfeld regular Jason Alexander returned as special guest for the annual “Presidents at Pops” concert. Another television hit, Mad Men, was the inspiration for an early-’60s-themed program. Patrons at these concerts were encouraged to dress in period fashions, and fans submitted family photos from that era for inclusion in a Pops collage. As in every season, the Pops programs explored the remarkable richness and variety to be found in American music. Returning guest conductor Charles Floyd and the Boston Pops Gospel Choir joined forces with Pastor Wintley Phipps for another rousing “Gospel Night.” The sounds of country music bookended the season: Opening Night marked the return to the Pops stage of superstar Vince Gill and, to close the season, the Music City Hitmakers (Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, and Gordie Sampson) saluted our troops with the debut of a new song, “Free” written especially for these performances. “Free” was again performed on the 40th Anniversary of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4th on the Charles River Esplanade.

fiedleresplanadePops Fun in the Summertime

esplanade—“a level open stretch of paved or grassy ground, especially one designed for walking or driving along a shore.” More than seventy years ago, before Arthur Fiedler became Conductor of the Boston Pops, he was struck with an idea that was to transform the orchestra’s relationship to the City of Boston. He believed that if great literature was available for free in public libraries, and masterpieces of art could be viewed for a modest fee in museums, then great symphonic music should be accessible to the masses on a similar basis. Fiedler, who was at the time a violist in the Boston Symphony as well as a conductor of his own ensemble, set about raising funds to bring his idea to fruition. After two years, on July 4, 1929, the first free Esplanade Concert was performed at the specially constructed acoustic shell along the banks of the Charles River. The orchestra was composed of roughly half the musicians of the Boston Symphony. That first season of free concerts, which attracted more than 208,000 people, was such a resounding confirmation of Fiedler’s vision that the Boston Symphony management was swayed to sign Fiedler to a three-year conducting contract, which was only the beginning of five decades of leading the Pops, until his death in 1979. The high point of Fiedler’s career was probably the July Fourth concert in 1976. The special bicentennial event attracted more than 400,000 people and made the “Guinness Book of World Records” for the largest audience in the history of orchestral concerts (a record since broken with the 1998 attendance of 500,000+). In honor of Fiedler’s profound influence, the Boston Pops dedicates one Esplanade concert each season to him. The Esplanade season today encompasses roughly one week’s worth of concerts featuring diverse programming that ranges from classical and opera favorites to gospel music and Broadway showstoppers. The highlight of each season remains the festive Fourth of July concert, which is now telecast live nationwide and attracts nearly a half-million people each year. Recent guest artists have included the Pointer Sisters, Arturo Sandoval, Roberta Flack, Don McLean, Mel Tormé, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Trisha Yearwood, to name just a few. The celebration creates so much excitement that fans stake claims to the best spots on the Esplanade lawn starting at 6 a.m., when the grounds open. Grass quickly disappears beneath blankets, chairs, picnic baskets, and outstretched bodies, and the Charles River Basin is crammed with all manner of boats and floats. The atmosphere is one of communal good cheer. As the sun sets, the anticipation rises to fever pitch until that magic moment when the conductor mounts the podium and the music begins. With Tchaikovsky’s monumental 1812 Overture (complete with cannons and church bells) as the finale and the enduring Stars and Stripes Forever as the encore cueing a fireworks display that only gets more spectacular each year, it’s no wonder Bostonians consider the Boston Pops Fourth of July the grandest Independence Day celebration in the land!