DeNiro, Freeman, and Others Honor the Kennedys at "Presidents at Pops" Fund-Raiser

By Erin L. Souza May 24, 2010, 12:30 PM EDT

Robert De Niro, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman at Presidents at the Pops

Photo: Micheal J. Lutch

The Boston Symphony Orchestra staged a patriotic “American Heroes”-themed evening of music, readings, and celebrity sightings at its 29th annual Presidents at the Pops fund-raising gala at Symphony Hall on Wednesday evening. The event, held the day after the Pops’ 125th season opening, celebrated John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy and featured Hollywood heavyweights Robert DeNiro, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman narrating the program, “The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers.”
Presidents at the Pops is known as one of the largest corporate benefits for the arts in the United States, and this year raised more than $900,000 for the orchestra and its youth and community outreach programs. Attended by the presidents of many local companies, the event was sponsored by Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, Putnam Investments, and Suffolk Construction's Red and Blue Foundation.

“The goal of the event is to bring the corporate community together for an evening that supports the Boston Pops and celebrate the 125th anniversary of this venerable institution,” said Nina Jung, the orchestra's director of development events and volunteer outreach. New to the event this year were the guest stars and a playful element: Cut-outs of the orchestra maestros for guests to pose with for photos.

Before the main concert, which included a musical and narrative tribute to the Kennedys and the presentation of the National 9/11 Flag with a color guard of Boston and New York City firefighters, nearly 2,000 guests sampled Boston Gourmet canapes and cocktails during a pre-show reception that spanned the hall’s several function rooms. The decor mirrored that in the concert hall itself, focusing on vibrant color. “We wanted the evening to be fun and festive, all while using the colors chosen for this Pops season—orange, blue, and lime green,” Jung said. These colors appeared on the Be Our Guest-supplied linens, within the floral arrangements created by symphony volunteers, in the lighting from High Output, in Studley Press's printed materials, and even in the boxed dinners, which guests ate at their seats after the reception.    

“We also tipped our hats to the past, with decoupage vases on the buffets featuring old Pops album covers,” she said. The boxed dinner, a mainstay of all 29 Presidents at the Pops events to date, also paid homage to Pops tradition by serving Postum mocha mousse and chocolate ganache cake. “Postum is actually the type of coffee that was served in the hall over 100 years ago,” Jung said.

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