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Boston Pops Will Go to New York This Year, but Promises Fans ‘Never Again’

March 18, 1986

BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Pops will break tradition July Fourth and play at the Statue of Liberty gala in New York, but to soothe local fans the orchestra also vowed Tuesday not to leave home again on Independence Day.

The century-old orchestra, which has drawn millions to its Independence Day concerts and fireworks finale along the Charles River since 1929, also announced that it plans a performance in Boston on July 5.

″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,″ Dickson added. ″Never again will e leave Boston on July 4th, not for the next 100 years.″

To further placate Boston Pops loyalists, the Metropolitan District Commission said Tuesday that 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 York at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

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

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

″We feel such a strong tie to our Boston audience,″ she said. ″They’ve supported us for 100 years. We couldn’t imagine Fourth of July festivities without them.″

The Pops was invited last December to perform at the rededication on the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, news that sparked criticism from tourism officials and fans such as 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 that they were pleased and relieved by the orchestra’s plans to play July 5.

″I think it’s a good deal,″ said Bonaccorso, a 40-year-old builder from the Boston suburb 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 that 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.

″Actally, 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.″

At the four-day Statue of Liberty celebration, the refurbished statue will be unveiled and her torch relighted by spotlights trained on its gold leaf coating.

During the July 4 concert, Pops Conductor John Williams will lead the orchestra through a medley of American songs by John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin and Aaron Copeland, and will be joined on stage by performers including Barry Manilow, Johnny Cash and Whitney Houston.

Williams, composer of the themes for the movies ″Star Wars″ and ″E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,″ joined the orchestra in 1980, succeeding Arthur Fiedler, who led the group for 50 years before his death in 1979.

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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