Earlier this summer, I was asked to take part in a WQXR podcast on the state of pops concerts, along with Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and Steve Linder of IMG artists. Pops concerts get short shrift on the classical-music front, and I’m a good example of why: I can see why they exist, but I’m not very interested in reviewing them. I do, however, seem to end up writing an awful lot about this kind of thing, in part because of my ongoing interest in the relation of the field of classical music to the larger culture.
Meanwhile, my colleague Katherine Boyle wrote a fine profile in the Washington Post of the National Symphony Orchestra’s new pops conductor, Steven Reineke (an appointment that was announced in February). I do question, though, the assertion that pops concerts are an orchestra’s money-making arm. My understanding is that the taste for this kind of thing is on the wane: you can get lots and lots of people to the Lord of the Rings Symphony or Video Games Live, but subscribing to a full season of it, not so much. There’s a whole segment of light music that is falling into neglect as a result — too fluffy for today’s more earnest classical programs, yet not calculated to draw in young audiences of people who grew up entirely outside the classical tradition.
Vintage pops: From Arthur Fiedler’s first recording session with the Boston Pops, circa 1935.