The Pops on patriotic (extra) duty

Fern Smith of Montgomery, Ala., couldn’t help but smile after wading through the security checkpoint at Logan Airport Terminal B on Monday morning.

She, along with the rest of the early morning travelers, was greeted with patriotic tunes from a 10-member ensemble of the Boston Pops.


“In my next life I want to be a piccolo player, and I’ve been saying that for years,” Smith said after watching a piccolo solo by flutist Clint Foreman, who signed her boarding pass.

The ragtime band, lead by principal conductor Keith Lockhart, appeared at Logan as part of a novel series of pop-up concerts setting the stage for the orchestra’s annual July Fourth performance. The Pops contingent played at Six Flags New England in Agawam and Titus Sparrow Park in the South End on Sunday, and then in Times Square in New York and downtown Stamford, Conn., on Monday.

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Lockhart, conductor of the Pops for 20 years this coming season, said he was eager to do the pop-up series for the first time not only to promote the Pops, but also to get people excited for Independence Day in a new way.

“After looking at the smiles of the people in Logan Terminal B, it seemed like it was met with a friendly response,” Lockhart said.

The Pops had the whole crowd, including TSA staff, clapping to chestnuts like “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Stars and Stripes Forever.”


Michael Albano, a TSA officer and a musician in a Guns N’ Roses tribute band, said the impromptu performance reminded him of the early days of MTV Unplugged.

“As a musician, it’s amazing to see this in my work environment,” Albano said.

The idea of pop-up concerts arose from a new relationship with the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, which has been integral in helping the Pops to launch a free webcast of their Charles River Esplanade performance on July Fourth.

“It’s not just that we play for the people at Logan and the people at Times Square,” Lockhart said. “It’s more importantly the social media it generates, and the branches that come out of that appearance.”

Social media has become a staple of this year’s Independence Day performance. The orchestra is running a contest on Twitter for a chance to win a three-night trip to Boston during the Spring 2015 season — and an opportunity to conduct the Pops in Symphony Hall. Signs that read “#WatchThePops” promoted the contest at the pop-up performances.

While Lockhart and the Pops marketing team worked on other strategies to get the public excited about the Esplanade performance, first trumpeter Michael Martin assembled the ragtime band. He helped to create the set list for the concert series, which included one of his own compositions.

Rachel Childers, a French horn player with the Pops, showed Messiah, 4, how the mouthpiece works at Titus Sparrow Park in Boston.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Rachel Childers, a French horn player with the Pops, showed Messiah, 4, how the mouthpiece works at Titus Sparrow Park in Boston.

“I pulled together some of my more exuberant colleagues,” he said with a laugh. Regarding the high-spirited, all-American set the band played, he added, “They are songs people know and love, and numbers that we are comfortable playing.”

The free Charles River Esplanade concert, which has brought in hundreds of thousands of audience members for 40 years, was televised nationally until 2013. Soon after last year’s performance, Lockhart and the marketing team started thinking about how the Internet and social media could play a role in what he calls “the nation’s best birthday party.” A worldwide webcast seemed like the perfect way to showcase the Pops patriotic tradition.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

“In my next life I want to be a piccolo player,” said Fern Smith, Traveler from Montgomery, Ala., greeted by a Boston Pops pop-up concert at Logan Airport.

“We get to show [viewers] the entire concert, which has been tough because CBS had always just shown a portion of it,” Lockhart said. “It’s truly a worldwide audience going out on the Web.”

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” To mark the occasion, Tony Award-winning lyricist Lynn Ahrens will honor the national anthem with an original essay, accompanied by music that will lead into the anthem. The 80-member orchestra will also perform with the Beach Boys , Broadway star Megan Hilty, and the Boston Children’s Chorus.

Lockhart said that even though the show will have its patriotic and serious moments, it is also about having a wonderful time.

“When you are thinking fun in the summer sun, what’s more iconic than the Beach Boys and songs like ‘Good Vibrations’ and ‘California Girls,’ ” he said.

“As a musician, it’s amazing to see this in my work environment,” said Michael Albano, TSA officer at Logan Airport.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

“As a musician, it’s amazing to see this in my work environment,” said Michael Albano, TSA officer at Logan Airport.

Kelly Gifford can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @kelgiffo.

Clarification: The Fourth of July will come on the Third this year in Boston. The annual Boston Pops concert and fireworks extravaganza on the Esplanade in Boston will be held Thursday instead of Friday because of the possibility of bad weather from Tropical Storm Arthur, a law enforcement official briefed on the planning said Wednesday.

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