Music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra since February 1995nd only the third man to lead this world-renowned group since 1930eith Lockhart has had some big shoes to fill. His predecessors at the Popsrthur Fiedler and composer/conductor John Williamsere among the century's most distinguished musicians. But Lockhart isn't intimidated by his job's multiple challenges. Not inclined to take himself too seriously, he oncehile serving as conductor for the Cincinnati Symphonyumped out of giant birthday cake onstage; another time he made his entrance on inline skates. Asked by Spotlight magazine, published by the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, what he might be doing if he weren't conducting the Boston Pops, Lockhart said he'd probably be playing baseball: "The funny thing is, I always used to play shortstop or second base, but there's a Keith Lockhart on the Atlanta Braves who already fills that position."
Although he remains basically committed to the three-part Boston Pops concert format first established by Arthur Fiedler, Lockhart has expressed a willingness to shake things up a bit. (A traditional Pops concert begins with a classical or light classical piece, followed by a concerto drawn from the better-known classics, and ends with selections from popular music.) Although he enjoys working with popular artists and performing popular music, Lockhart's first love remains the great classical music composed for orchestra. When asked how he hoped to make his mark at the Pops, he told Arts Around Boston, "I want to be responsible in some small way for really making this orchestra the proponent of classical music for everyone and really proving that this music exists for everybody"
As if his responsibilities with the Boston Pops were not enough, Lockhart also became music director of the financially troubled Utah Symphony in the fall of 1998. (Their concert season runs from late September through the winter, while the Pops season runs from May through July.) The search committee chose Lockhart for his enthusiastic following nationwide and the media-savvy stunts that have helped to endear him to audiences in Boston. It was clear, however, that the orchestra's musicians would have preferred one of Lockhart's rivals for the job: Graeme Jenkins, Carl Anton Rickenbacher, Matthias Bamert, and Carl St. Clair.
Born Keith Alan Lockhart on November 7, 1959, in Poughkeepsie, New York, he was the oldest of two children born to Newton Frederick and Marilyn Jean (Woodyard) Lockhart, both of whom worked as computer technicians. He was raised in nearby Wappingers Falls and educated in the public schools of New York's Dutchess County. As a boy, he studied piano, clarinet, and flute. Interviewed by Classical Focus, Lockhart recalled his early training: "My parents bought a piano when I was six and since I hadn't destroyed it by the age of seven, they decided to let me have lessons." Although he was well schooled in music as a boy, it was not until college that he began to seriously consider a career in music. While majoring in German at Furman University in South Carolina, he studied for a summer with conductors Leonard Slatkin and Sergiu Comissiona at the Aspen Music Festival. That experience reenergized his interest in music. Back at college, he began making extra money by playing piano for an Elvis impersonator.
In the spring of 1981 Lockhart graduated from Furman with bachelor's degrees in both German and piano performance. Shortly thereafter he married his college sweetheart, Ann Louise Heatherington, but the marriage ended in divorce only two years later. In September of 1981 he headed off to Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh to begin work on his master's degree in orchestral conducting. During this time Lockhart served as the university's director of orchestral activities and later as conductor of the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra. In 1989 he was named one of two conducting fellows of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. The following year he was hired as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Beginning in the fall of 1992, he served as associate conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Pops orchestras, as well as music director of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, a position he held until 1998.
In addition to his work with the Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops, and Chamber Orchestras, the Boston Pops, and the Utah Symphony, Lockhart has served as a guest conductor for most of the great symphonic orchestras in North America, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony. He conducted Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe in his debut at the Washington Opera; overseas he has conducted the Singapore Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. Lockhart appears occasionally in concert appearances with his wife, Lucia Lin, a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra whom he married in 1996. He maintains residences in both Boston and Salt Lake City, as well as a home on the coast of Maine, where he vacationed often as a boy. Interviewed for Spotlight magazine, Lockhart admitted to singing in the shower and confessed that he had a "lousy voice" but said, "the worst thing is I when I go to a Broadway show. Lucy (my wife) belts me. I tend to kind of lose myself and not realize I'm doing it."
His dual positions as music director keep Lockhart on the move, although as noted above the two orchestras' seasons don't overlap. On those rare occasions when he is not on the move and has some time for reflection, Lockhart tries to analyze the composers whose music he conducts. He described the process to Classical Focus: "I sit at a desk with a score, some pencils, and a cup of coffee. I look at the music and try to establish some connections. When you begin to understand what was going on in the head of the composer, it is rewarding."
Another big chunk of his time is taken up with the Pops recording schedule. Under a four-year recording contract signed with RCA Victor in 1996, Lockhart and the Pops turned out six albums, all of which were warmly received both critically and popularly: Runnin' Wild: The Boston Pops Play Glenn Miller; American Visions; The Celtic Album; Holiday Pops; A Splash of Pops; and The Latin Album. In addition, RCA Victor released a compilation album in March of 2000 entitled Encore! that contained tracks from the orchestra's first five albums under the contract.
Only 40 when the new millennium arrived, Keith Lockhart is certain to be a major force in American music for years to come. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001, the conductor told the Portland Press Herald (Maine) that he thought institutions like the Boston Pops could help provide comfort. "When people come together for the holiday this year , they'll want that touchstoneo be able to put their hand on something they recognize from when they were a child. They want the security music can bring."
With the Boston Pops
Runnin' Wild: The Boston Pops Plays Glenn Miller, BMG/RCA Victor, 1996.
American Visions, BMG/RCA Victor, 1997.
The Celtic Album, BMG/RCA Victor, 1998.
Holiday Pops, BMG/RCA Victor, 1998.
A Splash of Pops, BMG/RCA Victor, 1999.
Encore!, BMG/RCA Victor, 2000.
The Latin Album, BMG/RCA Victor, 2000.
The Complete Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2001.
American Record Guide, March 1, 1998.
People, June 5, 1995, p. 84.
Portland Press Herald (Maine), December 20, 2001, p. 3D.
"An Interview with Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart," Arts Around Boston, (January 1, 2002).
"Classical Scene," Classical Focus, (January 1, 2002).
"Keith Lockhart, Conductor Boston Pops," Greylock Associates, http://www.greylockassociates.com/lockhart.htm (January 1, 2002).
"Keith Lockhartonductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra," Evening at Pops 2001, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pops/background/bios/lockhart.html (December 1, 2001).
"Pops Today and Tomorrow: A Conversation with Keith Lockhart," Evening at Pops 2001, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pops/background/keith_interview.html (December 1, 2001).
"Spotlight Magazine: On the Lighter Side with Keith Lockhart," Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts, (January 1, 2002).
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