BOSTON (CBS) – The Fourth of July, when the eyes of the nation will be on Boston and the Boston Pops, is now just one week away.

It’s a huge night for the city, and for the man center stage that night:  Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart.

Lockhart has a unique perspective on July 4th. Standing on the stage at the Hatch Shell, he gets the best seat in the house for the Boston Pops Fourth of July celebration.

“You see a sea of faces,” he said.  “Some stand out.  You have a sense of people going on forever.”

He is at the helm, steering the orchestra, the special guests and the crowd, all before a live television audience.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports.

It’s an experience unlike any other, and one he knows it’s big not only for him personally, but also for the Pops and the city.

“It’s a great experience for all of us, the largest crowd that sees an orchestra live at the same time, a wonderful chance to be center stage to a celebration that means so much to so many,” he said.

Lockhart knows it’s all about the crowd, and admits his favorite part of each performance is knowing that they’ve thrilled the audience.

“It’s about fans who are here, the people who spend 12 hours sitting trying to get a good space,” he said.  “Those are the people we are really playing for, and everyone else gets to watch in.”

Lockhart says this year’s performance will feature some changes, including tweaks to the patriotic sing-a-long.  To make the show more contemporary, the Pops will be performing songs like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Proud to Be An American.”

Lionel Richie will be this year’s special performer, and the event is hosted by actor and Lowell native Michael Chiklis, who will also sing.

You can watch the celebration on WBZ-TV beginning at 8 p.m., or listen to the festivities on WBZ NewsRadio 1030, beginning at 7 p.m.


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