Boston Pop’s Lockhart back home in Carolina

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Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013 12:00 am
Susan Gilmor/Winston-Salem Journal

Keith Lockhart, the conductor of The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, remembers his last trip to Winston-Salem well.

It was in 2008. The concert at Joel Coliseum went well, but what really stands out in his mind is what he did off the stage.

“I paid a social call on Maya Angelou,” he said, referring to the beloved poet and author who splits her time between Winston-Salem and New York. “That’s what I remember most from that trip. It was amazing.”

Lockhart, who has been the conductor of The Boston Pops since 1995, spends a fair amount of time in North Carolina. He serves as artistic director for the Brevard Music Festival near Asheville, so he’s in the state a lot during the summer.

“My parents live in Brevard, and I went to Furman (University),” he said. “I have lots of connections to the Carolinas.”

Lockhart will be back on Feb. 25, conducting The Boston Pops as it performs once again at Joel Coliseum. The Boston Pops is known as “America’s Orchestra,” and is one of the most recorded orchestras in the country.

This time, they will perform a tribute to Barbra Streisand, featuring Ann Hampton Callaway, a platinum-selling singer and songwriter. There will also be a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote some of the finest songs and scores in movie history.

Callaway’s songs are featured on six of Streisand’s recent CDs. Callaway was nominated for a Tony Award for her starring role in the Broadway musical “Swing!” She wrote and sang the theme song to the TV show “The Nanny.” She has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll.

“She sounds amazing,” Lockhart said. “She really sounds like Barbra Streisand, which is kind of amazing.”

The program will include selections from the Streisand songbook, including “The Way We Were,” “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” and a medley of “People” and “Being Alive”—“lots of favorites for anyone who loves Barbra Streisand,” Lockhart said.

Hamlisch and Streisand were close friends. He wrote the score for the film “The Way We Were,” as well as the music for the title song, and Streisand has performed many of his other songs over the years. “So we’ll do a little tribute to him as well,” Lockhart said. The orchestra will perform Hamlisch’s hits “Through the Eyes of Love,” from the film “Ice Castles,” and the overture to “A Chorus Line.”

“There’s also music from (Stephen) Sondheim and ‘Gypsy,’ so it’s a little broader than just those two tributes,” Lockhart said. “It’s great American music and will be a lot of fun to be involved in.”

Winston-Salem will be the second stop on the tour, which begins Feb. 24 in Newport News, Va.

“We like to tour because it puts us face-to-face with fans. And who would not like to leave Boston in February?” he said with a laugh.

People know The Boston Pops from their recordings and TV performances. But seeing the group in person is different, Lockhart said. “If you’ve never been to The Boston Pops live, you really haven’t experienced this wonderful ensemble.”

Robert Mulhearn, the booking director for Joel Coliseum, agrees. “It’s just a great night out,” he said. “They put on a great show.”

Chuck Webster, the coliseum’s marketing director, said that the orchestra has played at the coliseum twice: 2001 and 2008. “There are good events and then there are some that you remember as great events,” he said. The Boston Pops falls into the latter category, he said.

“I think everyone will be royally entertained by The Boston Pops,” Webster said. “It’s one of those shows 20 years from now that you’ll always remember.”

sgilmor@wsjournal.com