By Zach Gewelb
Queens residents have the chance to witness something special this month, as the New York Pops orchestra is set to return to Forest Hills Stadium for the second performance of the venue’s concert season.
The Pops will perform the legendary music of composer John Williams, including the iconic scores of feature films such as “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Harry Potter,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and more.
Leading the Pops is conductor Steven Reineke, who said he is thrilled to have a chance to bring Williams’ beloved music to Forest Hills Stadium for the June 8 performance.
“John Williams is one of my personal idols,” Reineke said. “I started out wanting to be a film composer in the early ’90s. Basically, I wanted to be the next John Williams. Any of these tunes, you hear them and it immediately takes you back to those specific films and scenes and characters, so it’s very, very special.”
Reineke is particularly happy to be bringing the Pops back to Queens after two successful seasons at Forest Hills Stadium. He said the venue — which recently completed a major renovation — is one of his favorite places to perform.
“My gosh, I absolutely love it. I’m so thankful that it’s here and has been brought back to life in such a wonderful fashion,” Reineke said. “The acoustics are fantastic in there. It’s a very special place to perform under the stars. They’ve done such a tremendous job with the venue.”
Forest Hills Stadium began a thorough rehabilitation in 2013 and has come back strong, hosting several popular events, including performances by Drake, the Zac Brown Band and Lil Wayne, among others.
While the first few performances at the stadium were geared more toward popular music artists, the venue began searching to bring something different to Queens and settled on the New York Pops in 2015.
“The idea behind it was we felt that for such a great city to not have a place for orchestral music in the summer was a shame,” said Mike Luba, a partner in Madison House Presents, the promoter that books and produces concerts at the venue. “It was always part of the plan that we would somehow try to bring a real orchestra out here and call Forest Hills Stadium home.”
Luba also said he believes this kind of concert can help bring people of different generations together for a night under the stars.
“One of the great things of having an event like this,” he said, “is that we have 1,000 little kids who might be going to their first concert of any sort sitting next to 85-year-olds. It’s a multi-generational event.”
The New York Pops has performed in front of big crowds before, and will get an additional boost in attendance through their Kids in the Balcony program — renamed to Kids in the Stadium for their appearance in Forest Hills.
“This is one of our favorite programs with the New York Pops,” Reineke said. “[The] program started at our indoor home at Carnegie Hall, and over the years we’ve had about 37,000 kids in the balcony at Carnegie Hall attend, free of charge. And now that we’ve started out at Forest Hills Stadium, it gives us an even larger venue to be able to offer free tickets to underserved communities and schools, and kids who will get the opportunity to hear an orchestra, some for the very first time. I’m very pleased we are able to offer that.”
Reineke said he hopes the program will help generate more interest in music and the arts, even if it affects just one person in the crowd.
“Some of these kids, it could change their lives,” he said. “I was one of those kids. When I had these types of opportunities when I was younger, I remember distinctly saying: ‘that’s what I want to do,’ and it helped shape the course of my life. So you never know who you are going to be able to touch with things like this.”
The concert is scheduled for Thursday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Forest Hills Stadium. Tickets and additional information can be found at fores
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe