The din of commercial airliners, normally an everyday occurrence for Queens residents, will be replaced by lush orchestral tones this Thursday and Friday night, August 6th and 7th, as the NY Pops make their debut at the Forrest Hills Stadium.
Two time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster ,who played a sold-out concert with the Pops earlier this year, will return to the famed venue on Thursday evening. On Friday, the hip, undefinable group Pink Martini will share the stage. Both concerts begin at 7:30 PM.
Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor of the NY Pops, is looking forward to both the inagural season and to making the massive Forrest Hills Stadium a summer home for his orchestra. “It’s difficult to get into our concerts at Carnegie Hall; They are all one night only and they all sell out.”,Reineke said. “2800-2900 people get to experience a concert in the Hall. Now we have the opportunity to fit 50,000 people, so we’re loooking forward to bringing something great to Queens and the whole New York Community.”
In addition, the Pops concerts at the Forrest Hills Stadium will feature reduced tickets prices, as well as their “Kids In the Balcony” series. At each concert during their season, 100 free tickets are given to children in various NYC Public schools so they can experience a live orchestral experience at Carnegie Hall. 1,000 free tickets will be distributed at each concert this week. Reineke is especially delighted to welcome back Sutton Foster. “This is one of my favorite concerts we’ve ever put together,” he said. “She is such an incredible talent. Of course, we’ll be doing music from her Broadway career including Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie (her Tony Award winning shows) and some other Broadway tunes.” He added, “We’ll also include some Americana songs and music that was important to her in her upbringing. It will be similar to the concert that was performed at Carnegie hall, but Sutton has some new ideas up her sleeve.”
The ebullient conductor is also excited about reuniting with Pink Martini, who has worked with the Pops in years past. Reineke lauded praise on the group, observing that “Pink martini is such an eclectic group of musicians. I like working with them with a full symphony orchestra because their arrangements and orchestrations are integrated between their own band and our orchestra. Their music is from so many different parts of the world and is just so fun and lounge-like.” Reineke summarized the experience by concluding,“It’s always a party when Pink Martini is in town! ”
All 78-80 musicians will take to the stage and Reineke promises that the orchestra will not be a scaled down version. “We’re gonna have our full forces and show everybody what the NY Pops is all about!”
Reineke also touched upon the Queens venue, observing that “New York has not had anything like this in years and we want to make this the Hollywood Bowl of the East Coast,” Acoustically, it will differ a bit from the concert hall setting to which the Pops is accustomed. “There is little amplification in the hall, but in Forrest Hills, we’ll use microphones in order to make the proper mix for the sound.When you have really good sound engineers, as we do, it will sound lush, full, and beautiful.” For decades, the stadium played host to both the US Open and to music icons including Jimi Hendrix, Barbra Streisand, The Beatles, and more. In the mid nineties, it became too costly to maintain and the venue was closed. In 2013, after undergoing a 3MM restoration, it re-opened and has since welcomed Mumford and Sons, ‘Lil Wayne, the Zac Brown Band, Van Morrison, and others.
Pink Martini’s founder, Thomas Lauderdale, took some time to speak with Manhattan Digest recently via phone about this week’s concert, his convictions, and what inspires him.
MD: This will be a different concert in the sense that three of Pink Martini’s leading ladies (China Forbes, Storm Large, and Meow Meow) will share the stage at Forrest Hills. What can audiences expect to hear?
TL: It will be a mix of various genres and each of the “three divas” of Pink Martini will bring their own distinct sound.
MD: You mentioned in a documentary about the group that “the purpose of music is to sing songs that inspire people, comfort them, help them fall in love, go through a divorce or (jokingly) vacuum.” What are the most unusual or craziest things people have shared with you about what they were doing while listening to Pink Martini?
TL: “Hang on Little Tomato” has become important for a lot of people because it has such an optimistic message of holding on. Whether it is someone who is dying or has a terminal illness or is going through a break-up, it has become an anthem of sorts. Music can be such a comfort in times of crisis.
MD: You also mentioned that the notion of being out and participating in the world is your idea of what life is. What inspires you to be out and actively participating in the world?
TL: Well, in the end, I am really optimistic even though there is a lot to be upset about in modern culture. For example, there’s a loss of grace and a loss of committment to beauty and I think that it has to do with television, computer, and iPhone screens. People are beholden to them and are less and less socialized. They understand less and less how to get along, which I think leads to a lot of problems. This is the reason why there are so many random shootings; People just can’t figure out a way to be hopeful and survive without going crazy. The things that really inspire me are projects that I know can really make a difference. For instance, I sit on the board of the Oregon symphony and I feel like there have points in the last five years where I’ve been helpful to the orchestra by keeping it afloat and watching it succeed. There was a period of time when I was the only board member advocating not to cut the orchestra. I stuck to my guns even though it was an unpopular view, but I was determined. It meant standing up to board members twice my age and standing up to the quote unquote experts and their set of ideas. If I believe that I’m right, I have to stick to it,stand up to them, and not give up solely because it is a lonely and tough fight.
MD: Well, you’re standing by your convictions which is a rare thing in this day and age.
TL: It’s hard, but I think that there is actually a lot of sitting down in our culture. Most people just don’t want to take a tough position because they don’t want to stick out. I feel like it takes an incredibly strong person to stand up when everyone else in the room is against you. It’s a real test to stay loyal when your stance is not popular or prudent.
Another example of that is when we played with the National Symphony in DC last year on September 11th. We performed a song in Arabic with the orchestra. I felt like that was an important thing to do because we didn’t just negate the entire middle east. We found something beautiful and promoted it. Those are the moments that really matter.
MD: Absolutely. Music has such a universal, healing effect which is what makes Pink Martini so special. It’s got such a cool, sophisticated way about it that makes you feel as though everything is going to be all right in the world.
TL: My most favorite aspect of the band that we have a crazy kaleidoscope of an audience which crosses all kinds of demographics. We appeal to conservative people, liberal people, older people, younger people. I’m actually working on a Middle Eastern album that would translate some of our current songs into Arabic. That is kind of thing that interests me in terms of “crossing over” and making the forbidden less forbidden
MD: Well, I’m really looking forward to seeing you and the NY Pops Forrest Hills on August 9th.
TL: It’s going to be a really fun show I think. It has to be larger than life because it is such a big space.
The NY Pops in Concert with Sutton Foster (Thursday August 6th) and Pink Martini (Friday August 7th). For discounted tickets to Foster, visit Goldstar: http://www.goldstar.com/new-york/events/forest-hills-ny/the-new-york-pops-with-sutton-foster-tickets
For discounted tickets to Pink Martini, visit Goldstar: http://www.goldstar.com/new-york/events/forest-hills-ny/the-new-york-pops-with-pink-martini-tickets
For information about the venue, visit http://www.foresthillsstadium.com