For Some Holiday Concerts, Boston Symphony Cuts Size of Pops by Half

Classic Arts News   For Some Holiday Concerts, Boston Symphony Cuts Size of Pops by Half
After struggling to fill seats at Holiday Pops concerts in previous seasons, the Boston Pops has halved the number of musicians who will perform in five upcoming performances, reports the Boston Globe.

The Pops' expensive New Year's Eve show, with guest conductor Robert Bernhardt, is among the concerts that will be performed with the reduced 40-person orchestra, which is billed as "Members of the Boston Pops." The full Pops orchestra (which usually numbers about 80) opened the Holiday Pops season yesterday and will play two dozen Symphony Hall concerts through December 27.

Boston Symphony players (who make up the bulk of the Pops) have sent a petition to management suggesting that those who have purchased tickets for the five concerts, scheduled to take place December 28-31 at Symphony Hall with conductor Keith Lockhart, will feel misled, according to the Globe.

Tickets are slightly cheaper ($25-$83) for the first four reduced Pops concerts than for most of the earlier shows, whose prices (except for the children's concerts, which are the cheapest) range from $32-$115. The December 31 concert is the most expensive of the Holiday Pops season, with a top ticket price of $167.

In the past, reduced groups of Pops musicians have played for private parties and fundraisers; the post-Christmas concerts mark the first time a public Pops performance at Symphony Hall will feature a diminished lineup, according to the Globe.

Boston Symphony managing director Mark Volpe told the paper that he doesn't think ticket buyers will be upset, adding that the orchestra made the decision in August to use fewer musicians for these concerts as part of a cost-cutting effort.

BSO players, on the other hand, are reportedly concerned because they want to protect the artistic integrity of the Pops and to retain the opportunity to earn extra money for playing Pops concerts. Freelance musicians (who saw their Pops pay reduced earlier this year) will be particularly hard-hit.

The Globe quotes Bruce Hangen, recently fired as the BSO's principal guest conductor, as saying about the cuts, "It makes me think of the stories about the management experts who come into an orchestra and advise the administration on how you can cut costs. 'You have 15 violins playing the same thing. You could save money by having only one.' Somewhere in the middle is the right solution."

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