One of the most anticipated parties this summer, occurred this past Saturday night, when over 5,000 guests journeyed to Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich to hear the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra (BPEO) perform in honor of the 125th Anniversary of The Trustees, the largest conservation and preservation nonprofit in Massachusetts. Joining the festivities was vocalist, Megan Hilty, star of NBC’s musical-drama Smash and various Broadway hits, including Wicked.
The gates opened at 4 p.m. for those eager to settle in for the evening, mainly non-Trustee member ticket holders, who sat on The Grand Allèe, a half-mile carpet of grass rolling down toward the sea. VIP and Trustee member ticket holders arrived around 6 p.m. to settle on the lawn adjacent to The Great House, where the BPEO’s stage was positioned. VIP ticket holders were treated to a special seating area, furnished with curved sofas, ottomans, cushy chairs, and tables. They also enjoyed an open bar throughout the evening, starting with cocktails and pre-prandial nibbles, courtesy of Burlington’s Fireside Catering, in a white tent with chandeliers. Beyond a generous buffet of New England cheeses, there were short rib bites, rare tuna with orange-fennel relish, miniature lobster rolls, and hot zucchini fritters, just to name a few. Guest wore long and short dresses, tunics, and linen shirts and pants. Non VIP ticket holders were encouraged to bring picnics; vendors also strolled the grounds offering ballpark fare, like hot dogs, burgers, and soft pretzels, along with beer, wine, and spirits.
Around 8 p.m., Barbara Erickson, president & CEO of The Trustees, stepped onto the stage to give welcome remarks before introducing Robert Bernhardt, principal Pops conductor for the Louisville Pops and a guest conductor for the BPEO since 1992. Donning a dapper white dinner jacket, Bernhardt kicked off the evening with the overture to the 1935 film Captain Blood, followed by Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland and Dimitri Tiomkin’s The Green Leaves of Summer.
Then, Megan Hilty appeared in a strapless, sapphire gown and sang hits from Wicked and Smash, her gorgeous voice reverberating down The Grand Allèe. After changing into a red-violet gown for her second set, she crooned several old chestnuts, including George Gershwin’s Someone to Watch over Me. It wasn’t until the BPEO started playing tunes like Your Mama Don’t Dance and Satisfaction that guest dashed out of their seats and began boogie on the grass in front of the band. American Pie closed out the night, save for VIP ticket holders, who headed back to the cocktail tent for tiny fruit tarts, crème brulee, and cream puffs and a meet-and-greet moment with Hilty.
“It felt almost patriotic,” said, Erickson, reflecting on the crowd’s exuberance throughout the night. “People seemed to be having a really good time and I was surprised and happy to see so many people get up and dance!” Indeed, it was a swesllegant tribute to The Trustees, who will continue to celebrate their anniversary with more events in the coming months.