Classical music isn’t just for the Boston elite. In the second of his ten-part series, The Boston Music Scene, WBZ’s Bradley Jay talks to Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart about the challenges of the Independence Day concert, and his relationship with Boston.

BOSTON (CBS) – Every Independence Day the Boston Pops performs for the public on the Esplanade in the biggest concert of the year. The annual event truly tests conductor Keith Lockhart’s ability to adapt.

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“So many of the decisions are last-minute,” says Lockhart. “We’ve had guest artists go away three or four days before the program, and we’ve had guest artists not confirmed until a week or two before. I remember the year that Joe Perry and Steve Tyler of Aerosmith joined us; it was the last week of June and we still didn’t know for sure that they were going to be there.”

“We sometimes have to create [musical] arrangements on a 24-hour turnaround, and I don’t think there are too many orchestras that are crazy enough to do that. But we are!” Lockhart quips.

Lockhart’s relationship with Boston stretches back to his childhood. “I’ve always loved Boston,” he says. “As soon as I was old enough to pay attention, the family car trip brought us up to do all the sights, the Freedom Trail, and Durgin Park.” Lockhart continues, “I was living in Cincinnati when they made an offer to me to take this position. They asked if I would consider taking up permanent residence in this town because it was important to them and to the people of Boston. I basically said, ‘Well, if you let me, I’ll just get in the car and drive there right now and camp out in your backyard.’”

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Luckily, we took on this talented and devoted conductor without testing his wilderness skills… except perhaps during Fourth of July thunderstorms.

Next time, Bradley Jay goes a little bit country in part three of the series.

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