Tops at the Pops
That, of course, is the credo of the 110-year-old Boston Pops, one of America's most recorded orchestras. This month Lockhart, 35, became only its third conductor in the last 65 years. He succeeds film-score composer (Schindler's List and the Star Wars trilogy) John Williams, 63, who in 1980 succeeded the legendary Arthur Fiedler. "We hit the jackpot with Keith," says Kenneth Haas, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, of Lockhart, who held previous conducting posts in Pittsburgh, Akron and Cincinnati. "He's got the musical goods and personal attributes that will enable him to win everybody over."
Boston is already swooning over its handsome music director, who was divorced 12 years ago after a brief marriage to his college sweetheart and who receives a daily influx of invitations—some with photographs.
Growing up in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., the oldest of two children of computer technician parents, Lockhart played piano, clarinet and flute. A summer's study with conductors Leonard Slatkin and Sergiu Comissiona at the Aspen Music Festival while a student at Furman University in South Carolina convinced him to pursue music seriously. But not too seriously. He used to earn spending money playing piano for an Elvis impersonator.
Besides conducting classical favorites, Lockhart wants to commission pieces for the Pops to bring in new audiences. Within limits. "We do have a Board of Overseers that might get upset hearing the Pops play 'Driving that train/ High on cocaine,' " he says, laughing, citing the Grateful Dead song "Casey Jones." "Then again," he adds, "if Jerry Garcia's interested, I'd love to talk."