The NSO announced this morning the appointment of a new Principal Pops Conductor: Steven Reineke. Reineke brings fine credentials to the post, since he is also music director of the New York Pops, as well as being principal pops conductor with the Modesto Symphony and Long Beach Symphony. That's the kind of position Principal Pops Conductor is: you can hold down a lot of them at the same time.
Reineke will take over in September, at the start of the 2011-12 season. In addition to conducting, he is a composer and arranger; the NSO has played his "Casey at the Bat" and other works.
We don't cover many of the NSO pops concerts in the Washington Post: review space is limited, and it's always seemed to me that these concerts serve their function admirably without need for us to weigh in on how well or poorly they're doing it. They aren't usually my cup of tea, so I don't think my opinion about them would serve people who like this kind of music.
But I do think sometimes about their role. The idea was always that pops concerts would draw in new audiences, but like so many forms of classical crossover, they ended up, I believe, creating new audiences of their own. A couple of years ago I read an article about how the pops concert was dying out, and presenters were working to keep finding audiences for them -- though it seems to me that if a form of music conceived as popular entertainment is no longer popular, it should be allowed to follow its natural course.
How do you feel about pops concerts? Do you care at all if they continue? Are they a resource for developing new audiences or presenting different kinds of concerts? What would you like to see them do? Do you disagree with my disinclination to review them?
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