Free concerts on the Fourth of July have been taking place at The Esplanade in Boston since 1929. This year, however, the Boston Pops have elected to move their performance to Tanglewood, citing concerns related to the effects of COVID-19, time constraints, and budgetary factors.
This will be the first in-person performance to take place at Tanglewood since it closed at the beginning of the pandemic. It will feature Jon Batiste, bandleader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and legendary singer Mavis Staples. The whole concert will be broadcast live on television — including the fireworks finale, to take place from the Boston Common in partnership with the City of Boston.
Budgetary concerns played a major part in the decision. Tanglewood is equipped to record the concert for broadcast in a cost-effective manner, which the orchestra says is a pertinent concern given the amount of income lost due to COVID-19 restrictions over the last sixteen months.
"Though health concerns related to the pandemic have abated over the last few weeks, after careful consideration we determined there wasn’t enough time to organize the many forces needed to safely return to the Esplanade and present what is considered one of the largest concert events in the world," said Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. "We decided that it just wasn’t advisable to squeeze what is normally a ten-month planning period into a five-week window."
The orchestra anticipates that they will return to The Esplanade in Boston for the July 4 Spectacular in 2022.