Virtual Music Hour

  Pops Archive

  Introducing A Tribute to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

  Listen to the Music

1. OFFENBACH Overture from Orpheus in the Underworld

2. PUCCINI Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut

3. DANIEL DORFF Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra

4. ARBAN Carnival of Venice

5. HAMLISCH/Arr. LOWDEN Selections from A Chorus Line

6. ANDERSON The Syncopated Clock

7. SOUSA "The Stars and Stripes Forever"

This week's Virtual Music Hour is dedicated to DaVita.


Welcome to Virtual Music Hour. In preparation for your listening experience, Assistant Principal Violist Catherine Beeson has made guides with activities that can be enjoyed alone, with your quarantine buddies at home and online, or with your students. These activities can be mixed, matched, and altered to create an experience that’s right for you, or as inspiration to create your own. Get as creative as you’d like. Share it with us on social media! If you like seeing and hearing the Colorado Symphony musicians online, imagine how uplifting it would be for us to see and hear you too!

This week’s program, A Tribute to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, has something for everyone to enjoy. Light classics, tongue-in-cheek humor, beautiful melodies, flashy technical musicianship, and upbeat numbers sure to make you smile. Your Colorado Symphony musicians bring it all together!

  The Boston Pops was founded in 1885 just a few years after the Boston Symphony as a separate venture within the organization. Nearly all of the musician personnel were the same, but the aim of the Pops was to specifically feature lighter classical fare, holiday-oriented music, and popular tunes.

  Our modern era concept of pops “seasons” around holiday times, and especially the spectacular music and fireworks performances for the Fourth of July, were essentially templated by Boston Pops under the direction of Arthur Fiedler.

  Arthur Fiedler directed the Boston Pops from 1930 until his death in 1979. He introduced the world to the music of Leroy Anderson, who created fun engaging compositions - among them “Sleigh Ride”, “The Typewriter”, and “The Syncopated Clock” - specifically for Boston Pops.

  Our Colorado Symphony Tribute to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops followed a typical Boston Pops program and structure. It had two short intermissions, featured solo performers from the orchestra, and was built around lighter classical music, Broadway music selections, a Leroy Anderson number, and finished with the signature Sousa march “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

  Two instruments were highlighted in an unusual way on this program: the contrabassoon and the tuba. The contrabassoon is a member of the woodwind family and is twice as low sounding as its smaller counterpart, the bassoon. The tuba is a member of the brass family and is many times larger than its cousins the trumpets, horns, and trombones. Possibly due to their very low pitch ranges neither are frequently used as solo or spotlight instruments. This concert program provides a great opportunity to shine a light on each of them!

Here is a listening map that can guide you through each piece. Read it in advance or while you’re listening!

Overture from Orpheus in the Underworld
Jacques Offenbach

An overture is a sort of musical “hello” that introduces themes and other ideas from a much longer work to follow. In this case the longer work is a comic opera written in 1858. You may recognize the music that starts at 7:05 as the high kicking dance “Can-can”. It really gets going at 7:47!

The Boston Pops concert format offers an opportunity for reflection on the structure of a typical symphony program. It wasn’t so long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that a concert might include portions of a piece of music rather than a complete work. Some concerts would last for many hours while others would be much shorter. In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the majority of concerts featured new compositions. Now we find a fairly standardized approach to the structure of a symphony concert experience.

Do some quick research online at a handful of any orchestra’s planned programs:

  Notice any broad similarities?

  Do programs more closely resemble a three-course meal or a buffet? Why do you think that might be the case?

Lead an open discussion on programming:

  Is it important to have all movements of a symphony performed?

  Should there be a “rule” about representation of different styles? Eras? Lesser known composers? New work?

  Who should be making these decisions? How and why?

The two final pieces of music on this program feature a steady beat, or pulse, that may make your feet or hands want to tap along in a “1, 2” or “left, right” pattern. One of these does just what your ears expect it to: John Philip Sousa’s "The Stars and Stripes Forever". The other delivers a few surprises! Leroy Anderson’s The Syncopated Clock features the wood block “tick-tock” on our steady beat MOST of the time, but every so often that clock gets a little topsy-turvy and we hear the wood block “tickTEEtock” instead. This is the basic idea behind that technical sounding term ‘syncopation’.

  Have some fun making your own syncopations at home!

  1. First establish a steady beat, or pulse, in a grouping of two like a march. You can do this by clapping, marching in place, or even saying “ONE, two, ONE, two”. Get it going so it’s steady and seems like it could just go on forever at this pace.
  2. Next ask a family member, friend, or your other hands/feet/voice to add in some sounds that come at unexpected times. Try lots of different possibilities. Note how each one makes a little bit different effect on the overall rhythm you’re creating.
  3.   What kind of effect do each of these unexpected sounds or rhythms have on the mood or feeling of the original steady pulse?

  4. If you’re feeling adventurous try this same exercise with a grouping of three like a waltz “ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three” or really level up with groupings of five “ONE, two, THREE, four, five, ONE, two, THREE, four, five”. You could get even more complex by grouping two different pulse patterns together before adding sounds at unexpected times. For example, a grouping of six can be expressed as “ONE, two, three, FOUR, five six” and also “ONE, two, THREE, four, FIVE, six.”

Good luck and have fun building pulse patterns and syncopated rhythms!

Now it’s time to listen to the Colorado Symphony performance! There are all sorts of ways to engage as a listener, especially when listening at home instead of the concert hall. Feel free to listen quietly, sing or clap along, or march around the room!

Have a discussion afterward:

  What surprised you about the sounds or technical capabilities of our featured solo instruments, the contrabassoon and the tuba?

  Which pieces of music on the program were your favorite to listen to and why?



Please share your musical adventure with us through social media! We would love to hear about it or see any of your activities, journaling, or creations!


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