The open-air venue, located at 1 Tennis Place in Forest Hills, has seen the likes of The Who and Ed Sheeran perform for massive crowds this season. The New York Pops, who have been consistently selling out at Carnegie Hall, will undoubtedly draw in throngs of people during their two performances on Aug. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Led by Steven Reineke, music director and conductor, The New York Pops are the only professional symphonic orchestra in the city that specializes in popular music. Reineke himself also serves as the Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Throughout his career, some of his favorite venues to perform in includes the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts and at the Hollywood Bowl. And while The New York Pops performed at a few open-air venues throughout the years, Reineke is excited to finally have an outdoor home of their own, especially one with such a legendary caliber.
“It’s so inspiring to think of following in the footsteps of The Beatles, The Who, Barbra Streisand, and so many other musical icons of generations past,” he said. “I hope it will become a tradition for New York City families to come hear The New York Pops outdoors during the summers.”
On its inaugural night, The New York Pops will be joined by two-time Tony-Award winner Sutton Foster, who recently performed her solo debut with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
“She did an incredible solo show with The New York Pops in March,” Reineke said. “Our subscription audience loved her so much that we thought, ‘What better way to inaugurate our summer series?’”
Currently starring on TV Land’s new series Younger, Foster boasts an impressive resume. The singer and actress has been part of 11 Broadway shows, including Little Women, Young Frankenstein, and Shrek The Musical.
Her collaborative performance with The New York Pops will be similar to their first show together, which will include a plethora of Broadway hits as well as some of her favorite tunes. Still, Reineke and Foster added a few surprises to the lineup that will sync perfectly with the Queens audience.
“She always puts on such a great show, and I know that she and our great orchestra will make our inaugural concert at Forest Hills Stadium a blockbuster,” Reineke said, adding that Foster invited Broadway co-stars Colin Donnell and Megan McGinnis to join them onstage. “You can count on some serious dancing and singing. Together with our orchestra, they’re a dynamite lineup.”
The feeling is mutual for Foster.
“Steven brings an innovative, fun approach to symphonic pops concerts, and I feel lucky to share the stage with him and this brilliant orchestra,” Foster said. “The musicians are sensitive and versatile, and the orchestra brings every chart it plays to life.”
The following night will feature special guest, and Oregon-based eclectic group, Pink Martini. The self-proclaimed “little band” of about a dozen musicians can sometimes feel Latin-infused, sometimes Eastern-inspired and occasionally classical.
Pink Martini tends to stray beyond tradition, which is what Reineke is looking most forward to. And there will be a rare occurrence on stage when Pink Martini’s two lead vocalists, China Forbes and Storm Large, perform together. International cabaret sensation Meow Meow will join them as their special guest.
With so many artists performing together, Reineke explained the process of song selection and music execution as “a little bit like trying to herd cats.” Still, he is looking forward to giving the audience a great time.
“It’ll be like having a really good party, with 5,000 of your closest friends,” he said. “And if people discover how versatile and joyful symphonic pops music is, it’ll be icing on the cake.”