Boston Pops Hit the Road for Spaulding

Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart said it’s a pleasure to give people something to sing about, and just about every night through the Christmas season, the Pops does just that at Symphony Hall with their traditional sing along.

Jolly Old St. Nick joined Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart on Tuesday afternoon at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in the Navy Yard for a rousing rendition of ‘Here comes Santa Claus.’ The 9th annual Spaulding-Boston Pops concert is a chance for the group to bring their music in the holiday season to patients who have been on a long and challenging road to recovery. Lockhart said it’s great to be able to give people something to sing about.

However, it’s a far different gratifying feeling, he said, to travel to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown and give patients there who have been recovering from all sorts of trauma a moment of singing to distract them from their long recoveries.

That’s what the Pops did Tuesday as they traveled to Spaulding for the ninth year to do their special holiday concert in the gym for patients and staff.

“We do an incredible amount of concerts through the month of December, about 50 in all between Thanksgiving and New Year’s,” he said. This is a wonderful opportunity for us not to just sit in Symphony Hall and have people come to us, but to go to people who might be unable to go and be touched by the music that we can provide… It’s great to give people something to sing about. We see a lot of volunteers and staffers, as well as patients in differing degrees of disability, and all of them seem to take away something that’s good for them. That’s one thing about music and the concert experience is that people take away from it what they have to take away from it.”

David Storto, director of Spaulding, welcomed the Pops again on Tuesday, and said it has grown into an incredible tradition at the hospital. He said he is proud of the partnership and grateful that the Pops are willing to travel to Charlestown during their busiest season.

Joining the effort with the Pops was the Spaulding Tabernacle Choir, a group of volunteers doctors and staffers from Spaulding who sing several numbers during the special concert.

Dr. Randie Black-Schaffer started the Spaulding Tabernacle when the Pops first came to the hospital.

“They were hesitant to allow us to sing at first, but now they have come to embrace us and they have special numbers they do with us,” she said. “This is something we enjoy a lot. We come together every year for the concert, and we also sing carols through the hospital during the holidays.”

Dr. Black-Schaffer was actually part of the genesis of the concert effort at Spaulding.

A member of the Pops, percussionist Dave Hollender, actually had a stroke several years ago and received treatment at Spaulding. Dr. Black-Schaffer was his doctor and helped him to recover. After recovering, he asked Lockhart if they could do the special concert at the hospital. Nine years later it has become a tradition.

“He came away with really inspiring stories about the staff and professionals here and the dedication of this place of healing people with very serious challenges to overcome,” said Lockhart. “He asked as a favor to him if we could come do this concert and that has become a tradition now for nine years. It really means a lot to all of us. We can all see ourselves in other people’s shoes who are here and realize we have an opportunity to really do some good here.”

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