he Beatles have been reinterpreted by more musicians than any rock group in history. It’ll happen again on a grand scale when new arrangements of songs by the mop-topped lads from Liverpool will anchor a concert by one of America’s favorite orchestras. In A British Invasion: The Boston Pops Plays the Beatles, the 75-member Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra will perform such pop-culture classics as “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Yesterday” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” This magical mystery tour, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, will follow a long and winding road through the Walt Disney Theater on Friday, February 3, 2017. Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets start at $49.50. “We’ve always tried to translate the music of the here-and-now — or the almost hereand-now — into the orchestral vernacular,” says Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops since 1995.
Lockhart says the orchestra has gradually been putting together a Beatles' show with arrangements by noted composer-producer Rob Mathes and Chris Brubeck, a trombonist, bassist and composer who happens to be the son of jazz legend Dave Brubeck. The Pops’ history with the Beatles goes back about 50 years, to longtime conductor Arthur Fiedler. During a television interview, the white-maned maestro — surprisingly, to some — declared himself to be a “Beatlemaniac.” That announcement prompted the Fab Four to pen a response: “Dear Arthur: We think you have a great band.” Fiedler, who frequently showcased mainstream music, later worked some Beatles' songs into the orchestra’s repertoire. In 1971, he collected them on an album, Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Play The Beatles’ Greatest Hits. “Those arrangements show their age,” Lockhart says. “But the fact that the music
is worthy of rediscovery today shows how lasting a contribution the group made.” Lockhart, who was born in 1959, calls himself a “Beatles late bloomer” who was just beginning to buy records of his own when the group officially broke up in 1970. “I didn’t have a sense of them,” he recalls. “My parents thought of them as longhaired people who sang music that got people to do naughty things. They were too hip for my parents and too hip for me.” Only later, as a college student studying music, did he realize that the Beatles had created an extraordinary body of work — most of it by the songwriting team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. “What ‘classic’ means to me is that it easily reaches generations for whom it wasn’t intended,” Lockhart says. “We keep pulling out the music of Bach, the words of Shakespeare — and the songs of the Beatles.” Lockhart says part of the reason the Beatles’
Throughout it's history, the Pops has sought to broaden its audience by offering a combination of light classical and popular music. Says Lockhart: "We've always tried to translate the music of the hereand-now — or the almost here-and-now — into the orchestral vernacular."
artsLife | WINTER 2016