Keith Lockhart knows that orchestra music isn't for everyone.
But Lockhart thinks the Boston Pops might be able to score a few converts.
We're the orchestra for people who don't know they like orchestra music, Lockhart, the Boston Pops' conductor, said. "We are the essence of crossover."
That's because the Boston Pops doesn't stick to a program of just classical numbers by Mozart and Beethoven. Instead, it mixes traditional orchestra pieces with more contemporary offerings. Earlier this year, for instance, country musicians Rascal Flatts joined the Boston Pops for a show that featured several of Rascal Flatts' biggest hits, along with the orchestra standard "The 1812 Overture." A Boston Pops concert that will air on PBS in March features popular artists Sting, John Mayer and Steven Tyler.
The Pops' Christmas show embodies their mix and match style. The orchestra performs old favorites such as "Sleigh Ride" and "Joy to the World," along with an audience sing-along. New this year is music from "The Polar Express," which will be accompanied by narration and pictures from the book.
The show stops at Proctors in Schenectady on Friday, Dec. 5, for an 8 p.m. performance.
"It's a great way to kick off the holiday season," Proctors marketing assistant Leslie Finn said.
For Lockhart, the show marks a return to the state he called home for many years. The Poughkeepsie native grew up with a keen interest in music, playing piano and clarinet as a kid. He went to college with the idea of becoming a lawyer, but those plans changed when he got his first taste of conducting and found he really liked serving as a teacher and interacting with the audience.
"I found the thing I was most comfortable doing as a musician," he said.
So, instead of heading to law school, Lockhart headed to Cincinnati, where he served as associate conductor of both the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras.