Pops to Air Virtual 4th of July Special; No Live Fireworks

This year, instead of gathering around the Hatch Shell, you’ll have to gather around your television for the Boston Pops virtual Fourth of July spectacular. There will be no live performance or fireworks on the Esplanade this year because of COVID-19.

The three hour special, which is set to broadcast on Bloomberg Television and Radio, as well as simulcast on WHDH-TV from 8-11pm on July 4, is called “A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes” and will honor those who have fought on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and those who have lost their lives. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart has expressed his sadness that the Pops won’t be able to perform live, but they are looking forward to presenting this special to viewers near and far.

“All of us at the Boston Pops are pleased to have this opportunity to present A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes, a special broadcast that will pay tribute to the many frontline workers who continue to do so much to keep our communities safe and running during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart said in a statement.

“One of the positive things we have learned during the last few months is that even in the middle of a health crisis so many Americans are strong, resilient, helpful, and hopeful. It has been absolutely inspiring to see our frontline workers show such extraordinary dedication to the well-being of others, with their amazing acts of sacrifice, generosity, support, and kindness, as well as the incredible skill and know-how they bring to every situation. We also think it is essential to address one of the most crucial/fundamental themes of our times—the truth that we must do better as a people to confront racism and achieve a just and equal society for everyone throughout our country. These messages of honor, unity, diversity, equality, and fellowship will resound throughout the 2020 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular broadcast by way of inspiring retrospective performances by our most popular artists of the last few years, side by side with brand new content developed over the last two months.”
As previously reported by the Boston Sun, the special will highlight memorable moments from previous Boston Pops Fireworks Spectaculars, such as performances by Melissa Etheridge, Andy Grammer, Queen Latifah, and others, along with an appearance by the first youth poet laureate of the United States, Amanda Gorman, according to a release from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

The program will also feature new content, including a performance by singer Renese King and Keith Lockhart on the piano, as well as a video performance by the Boston Pops of their recent “viral hit” Summon the Heroes, which will feature an introduction by the song’s composer, John Williams. Other new content includes a virtual performance by the Boston Pops Viola Section of “Over the Rainbow,” a performance of Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday by the BSO Trumpet Section, and a video message from General James C. McConville, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. “Look for surprises throughout the evening; special messages from musical and community figures, and a tribute to our nation’s first responders that we’re going to put together,” Lockhart said in a recent announcement. 

Also included in the special are Boston Pops traditions such as the patriotic sing-along, a performance of John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture, the US Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus, and a fireworks display from past years to round out the program. Brian Stokes Mitchell will open the program with “America the Beautiful.”The show will be hosted by Keith Lockhart and Kim Carrigan, Joe Shortsleeve, and Janet Wu of Bloomberg

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