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Boston Pops Will Go To New York This Year, But ‘Never Again’

March 19, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Pops won’t entertain hometown fans this Fourth of July, but it promises never to cancel another Independence Day show on the shores of the Charles River.

The century-old orchestra announced Tuesday it has accepted an invitation to play at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park on July 4. It will return home the next day for its traditional, albeit belated, performance in Boston, complete with fireworks and cannon.

″This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I think most of the people of Boston think it’s an honor to give our orchestra to the nation for one night,″ said Associate Conductor Harry Ellis Dickson. ″This is a gift from the people of Boston to the people of the United States.

″This is not a precedent-making thing. Never again will we leave Boston on July 4th, not for the next 100 years.″

To further placate Boston Pops loyalists, the Metropolitan District Commission said Tuesday it was arranging for musical entertainment along the Charles on July 4, but nothing that would overlap with the orchestra’s televised performance in New Jersey.

″It will be modest,″ MDC Commissioner William Geary said. ″We don’t want to compete with the Boston Pops.″

Pops spokeswoman Caroline Smedvig said it decided to rush home for a July 5 performance because it felt a commitment to its Boston fans.

″We feel such a strong tie to our Boston audience - they’ve supported us for 100 years - we couldn’t imagine Fourth of July festivities without them,″ she said. ″We’re doing this as a Fourth of July present to them.″

The Pops was invited last December to perform at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, news that sparked criticism from tourism officials and fans like John Bonaccorso, who in years past has camped out days in advance to guarantee front-row seats at Fourth of July Pops concerts.

But early critics said Tuesday they were pleased and relieved by the orchestra’s plans to play July 5.

″I think it’s a good deal,″ said Bonaccorso, 40, of Somerville. ″The Pops are so good, you just have to share them with the nation, like you share liberty. I see the July 5th concert as a homecoming. I’m tickled pink.″

Becky Heinz, a spokeswoman for the Boston Convention and Tourist Bureau, said the repeat performance eases the agency’s initial disappointment. For the past several years, she said, 1.5 million tourists have flooded Boston on the Fourth of July, many to hear the orchestra under the stars.

″Actually, we’re happy because we’ll be represented in New York, a key tourist area for us,″ she said. ″But let me add, we’re glad it’s only this year that they’ll be away from Boston.″

The Boston Pops gave its first show in 1885, rattling the city’s reputation for sobriety in matters musical. The idea was to have some of the players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra play breezy summer concerts that would be accompanied by food, drink and even some hand-clapping.

The experiment was a success and has become one of Boston’s favorite summer traditions.

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