Brad Hatfield originally planned to have a low-key Fourth of July weekend, perhaps by sailing on the lake near his family’s home.
Instead, the Emmy Award-winning songwriter and accomplished pianist and arranger will perform on Monday evening in one of the nation’s premier Independence Day celebrations: the 2016 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade.
Hatfield has performed with the Boston Pops in previous July Fourth celebrations, and he’s eager to take the stage again this year.
“You have to be at performance level,” said Hatfield, academic teaching specialist in the Northeastern’s Department of Music. “This is not amateur hour. And you have about half a million people that are staring at you, which you don’t get every day.”
This year, Hatfield said, along with performing keyboards he was asked to arrange two of the performances by singer Demi Lovato, who along with Nick Jonas and the country group Little Big Town are featured performers at Monday night’s show.
“As an arranger, there are 85 musicians I need to account for,” Hatfield explained. “There are a lot of notes that need to be arranged and nothing can be wrong with them. The musicians are going to read and play every articulation and every dynamic marking they see on the page, so everything needs to be quadruple checked.”
After performing Friday night at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra Pops in Lenox, Massachusetts, Hatfield will return in time to rehearse with the Pops’ Esplanade Orchestra. He said the Fourth of July show will be incredibly demanding, not least because he will have to deal with the difficulties of performing outside as well as a national television production.
This is not amateur hour. And you have about half a million people that are staring at you, which you don’t get every day.”
Depending on commercial breaks, the orchestra could perform up to 20 songs during the two-hour show—including some that will be performed for those gathered on the Esplanade during breaks in the television coverage.
Hatfield has 35 years professional experience, and his songs have been featured in movies such as Iron Man 2, Analyze This, and Borat, and in television shows including CSI, Rescue Me, Friends, and ER.
At Northeastern, Hatfield has helped to build the music program’s songwriting courses into a songwriting minor open to the entire university. This fall, he will teach an online course on demo production for songwriters, which is still open to join. He’s also created a unique course that teaches students about licensing music for television, movies, and advertisements.
“A lot of the courses I teach I have developed myself and Northeastern has been very supportive of that,” Hatfield said.