The Boston Experience– Part Five

I have written encomiums and odes to Fenway Park before, even last summer as its 100 anniversary began, so I will in this post conclude this brief series with the lionizing of the BSO, including its popular off spring the Boston Pops, and perhaps most especially Symphony Hall, another museum in itself.

In 1900 Boston’s ‘new’ Symphony Hall opened. Dedicated to great classical music (especially that of the killer B’s– Bach, Beethoven, Brahms) this Hall quickly established itself as acoustically one of the greatest venues in America for any sort of music. If you visit it today, its second floor has many exhibits of the great concerts performed here. For example Rachmaninoff performed here some 30 times in the early 20th century. My wife Ann and I used to come here regularly in the 1970s and by student rush tickets for the princely sum of $1.50 each. They were turned-back tickets of season ticket holders and they were often incredible seats on the floor.

We heard a huge swath of great classical and popular music. I remember a particularly interesting concert by Gordon Lightfoot in this venue. My journey on this trip however was to go to the Gala Boston Pops tribute to the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, and Celtics, complete with video footage of the seven championships these teams have won in the last decade. It has been a remarkable season for die hard sports fans in Boston.

For this particular concert, all the stops were pulled out. We had Andre the Giant Tippett (major defensive player for the Pats) read the parable of the football to interesting music. We had El Tiante and Jim Lomborg conducting the symphony along with maestro Keith Lockhart. We had Bobby Valentine, and Wally the mascot putting in cameo appearances. We had Kelly Shopach the catcher throwing out souvenir baseballs (no not the real kind). We had the Drop Kick Murphy’s singing Tessie and Shipping up to Boston, both fan song favorites at the Red Sox games. And we had Josh Cantor the organist from Fenway playing the organ during intermission. They even served Fenway Franks and Sam Adams during intermissions!

As for the musical fare, it was John Williams tribute to the Red Sox in their 100 season at Fenway, and his Olympic suite. It was Carmina Burana by Orff for the Celtics, it was Sweet Caroline, which we all were singing, it was Take Me Out to the Ballgame, it was Chariots of Fire by Vangellis, it was Thus Spake Zarathustra by Strauss, and last but not least it was Queen’s We Are the Champions.

This was actually my first Pops concert in Symphony Hall, and though it was decidedly a low brow concert it was a delight, especially to see the passion of the Bostonians for their many championship teams, as they roared and clapped as the highlights were shown while the music played. A great time was had by all of us Boston fans.

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  • david gibbs

    Hi Ben, thanks for these post. What I am anjoying most really is the clear recognition that Christians can/should engage in an enjoy the culture around them, without confining themselves to strictly religious events and activities. There is a segment of conservative christianity, such as Pentecostals, which would see such things visiting museums, visiting a theatre on broadway, pursuing higher education, attending a non-religious musical concert or listening to such music ( by the way thanks for the list of new albums for 2012 which you recommedned recently – I am keen to check out the one by Lionel Richie), taking part in politics or following sports as “worldliness”. I would really love to see you do a series on how does the Christian engage the society around him in a wholesome, healthy, courageous and wise manner and how that has changed historically. Must Christian be afraid of the Arts? Over to you.

  • Oscar

    In my mind El Tiante is forever a Cleveland Indian! He was always a great pitcher but Cleveland was no proper stage for recognition for him.

  • Tracy

    Oh I love Symphony Hall! Going to hear the Pops was a highlight of our years at Hanscom AFB, especially the time my mom and her Officer’s Wives Club sang at intermission. I hope to take our boys to Boston to share with them some of the sights you’ve been mentioning. And the way the sun dances off the John Hancock Building. The golden horseshoes in the pavement. Fanieul (too many vowels I can never get in the correct order) Hall. And of course the FOOD!!

  • Peter Leavitt

    Dr. Witherington, many thanks for these excellent articles. I am from the Boston area; my paternal ancestor came to Boston in 1635. From long experience, I have found it best when away from Boston to downplay its distinction for fear of being tagged a snob.

    Just now, I am rreeading Perry Miller’s, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. In my view Boston’s greatest heritage has to do with the Puritan founders who for all their faults laid a religious foundation for America.

  • Ben Witherington

    Hi Peter: Thanks for this. I agree there is much to commend in the Puritan heritage, but there is also much to object to. Read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s parable about the minister wearing a veil. I posted it on my blog in this series. Blessings, Ben W.