Our Story

History of the Boston Pops on Nantucket

Keith Lockhart at the Boston Pops on Nantucket in 1998

Today, the Boston Pops on Nantucket is the single largest, most complex and most popular event of the Nantucket summer season, but this longstanding event comes from humble origins. Bringing world-class entertainment to Nantucket required a world-class effort.

In 1997, a small group of volunteers sought an innovative and inclusive way to raise money for Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Led by the late Kathy Clauss, they imagined what seemed impossible: what if we could bring the world-famous Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra to Nantucket?

Working with a few tireless advocates on the hospital’s Board of Trustees, including Margaretta Andrews and the late Charles Balas, Clauss’ idea of a concert on the beach began to take shape.

In August of 1997, the legendary John Williams hopped on the ferry to conduct the orchestra at Jetties Beach while thousands of islanders came together to raise a total of $585,000 which was used by the hospital to purchase cardiac equipment and defibrillators. The event was so popular that planning for 1998 began immediately.

The next year, a then relatively unknown 38-year-old named Keith Lockhart came to Nantucket to conduct the orchestra and continues to head the 100+ ensemble today.

“What stays in my mind is the incredible beauty of the setting. It’s great music in a sublime place,” Lockhart told N Magazine of his favorite part of conducting on Nantucket.

Today, the Boston Pops on Nantucket raises millions of dollars annually for Nantucket Cottage Hospital to support the hospital’s year-round commitment to the health of our island community.

This effort brings together all Nantucketers each year to make the concert a reality. Volunteers, hospital staff, vendors, donors, and community partners join together with such exuberance to celebrate the best of Nantucket – summer, beach, music, and raising money for a universal cause, healthcare.

Boston Pops on Nantucket, August 1997

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