"It's beyond the concert," Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart tells Smith, "It's a sociological phenomenon."
The orchestra performs annually in front of nearly 900,000 people. As people were already gathering at the Charles River Esplanade, Lockhart excited says, "You look out there and you see the first 50,000 or so and you feel another 400,000 beyond them; these people are so pumped, so excited to be here; then there is the thought that we're going live over national television on top of everything else."
If you are not in Boston, you can catch the concert on CBS from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m. live ET/delayed PT.
Lockhart says, "We're doing a little country today with Gretchen Wilson; Big & Rich, who are so much fun - had a great time with them last night; Cowboy Troy; the U.S. Army Field Band, need I mention; and the soldiers chorus from the United States Army as well."
One of the other highlights is the 1812 overture, which calls for the fire of a cannon. Asked how Lockhart coordinates the firing of the cannon, he says, "This is an industry trade secret I'm letting you in on here. We have two people dealing with the cannoners. One of them is a conductor from the orchestra who knows the score and knows where to point. And the other has been doing it from a long time ago is Peter Fiedler, Arthur Fiedler's son - so a bit of an historical connection there. They point at the right time and they know when to push the button."
To get in the spirit, Smith got to fire a 105 mm Howitzer with personnel from Alpha Battery - 1st Battalion of the 101st Field Artillery. Formed in 1636, they are one of the oldest military units in the Army and the oldest artillery unit. Besides the two hours of music, the 32nd annual Pops celebration includes a flyover of a pair of F-15 fighter jets, and of course, lots of fireworks.
It has been a tradition for the Boston Pops to hold a concert on the Fourth of July. This year marks Lockhart's 10th anniversary as its conductor. And for those who have Fourth of July withdrawal, Lockhart says now you can enjoy the Boston Pops all year round with their new CD.
"It is called 'America,'" Lockhart says, "Frankly because so much of the country knows us as America's orchestra playing America's great birthday celebration."
Of course, the CD includes the 1812 Overture, "Yolanda Adams, the gospel star joins us for 'America the Beautiful.' We have Arlo Guthrie singing 'This Land Is Your Land.' Just every great patriotic song you can think of in one place played by the Boston Pops," Lockhart says.
With the Fourth of July the orchestra closes its official season in Boston and then goes on the road.
Lockhart says, "We'll be out on the road in various places: New England; down on the Cape; up in New Hampshire. Then we'll be in Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; a little bit over in Eastern Pennsylvania. We'll be getting around and playing some stuff from our album for some of our extended fan base."