The BLOG: Culture

Ring in the New Year with class at Boston Pops with Bo Winiker

It’s December 31st. The eve of a brand new year. You want to ring in 2016 on just the right note. With good music. And class. In a way that is quintessentially Boston.

You choose New Year’s Eve at Symphony Hall with Maestro Bo Winiker.

Winiker, who has been playing jazz trumpet professionally in these parts since he was 10 years old (yes, t-e-n years old!), will don white tie and tails and lead the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra through a concert of dance tunes – with an emphasis on seasonal favorites, including “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

Bo Winiker (Theresa Johnson, courtesy of the Boston Pops/Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Bo Winiker (Theresa Johnson, courtesy of the Boston Pops/Boston Symphony Orchestra)

“I’ll be a little like Doc Severinsen, when he was leading the Tonight Show Orchestra,” Winiker said. “Playing with one hand, conducting with the other. Dealing with the finest musicians in the world.”

Bo Winiker is, perhaps, better known in these parts than the former leader of the Tonight Show Orchestra. The Winiker family has been entertaining Greater Boston audiences at galas, weddings, and clubs with a mix of jazz and pop for more than 50 years. When Bo played his first professional engagement, it was with the Winiker family band, which included his mother on bass, father on piano, and his brother, Bill, with whom he often still performs, on drums.

On New Year’s Eve, eight members of Bo’s regular ensemble, the Winiker Swing Orchestra, will perform beginning when the doors open at 8 p.m. Bo and the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra will come onstage at 10 p.m. The Pops Swing Orchestra consists of some of Boston’s premier jazz and swing musicians plus the Boston Pops Orchestra.  The arrangements are from the likes of Bill Elliott and Don Sebesky. Bo and the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra will play until 12:30 a.m.

Bo Winiker’s résumé is long and impressive. He’s toured the world with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and the Grammy Award-winning Ragtime Ensemble under the direction of Gunther Schuller. He’s been a soloist with the New York Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra. But conducting and playing Symphony Hall with the Pops was a dream of his, he said, for many years. He first fulfilled that dream when he opened the 2013-2014 Boston Pops season. This is his third consecutive New Year’s Eve at the Pops.

“It never gets old,” he said. “I’ve been performing professionally for 53 years. That’s a long time. Every time I perform, it’s a thrill. What’s crucial for me is to make the music come alive. That’s what I live for.

“People will ask me, what’s your most important engagement? My most important one is always the next one.”

For the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, having Bo Winiker ring in New Year’s Eve just seemed like the right thing to do for its audience and for the city.

“We felt that one thing missing on New Year’s Eve in Boston was the opportunity to hear a live orchestra perform all of the classic dance-era favorites,” said Kim Noltemy, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “So we’ve given audiences a chance to dance the night away in one of America’s most historic venues while ringing in the New Year with the Boston Pops.”

Tickets for the event range from $51 to $140. Cabaret seating is available at tables on the floor of Symphony Hall. There will be a cash bar and several dining options are available. A dance floor will be at the back of the orchestra section of Symphony Hall. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 888-266-1200 or go to

Symphony Hall is at 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, at the corner of Massachusetts and Huntington avenues, and is accessible by public transportation. Parking is available on the street, and at several nearby garages, including the Prudential Center Garage at 800 Boylston Street, the Westland Avenue Garage at 35 Westland, and the Christian Science Center Garage at 175 Huntington Avenue.

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile can be reached at [email protected].