Thursday, March 30, 2006

Standing Thanks

Even though The Standing Room is "In Hibernation," this blog is still churning new and interesting information via (look under Tasty Miscellany). They even found room for this humble blog amidst their churn - thanks!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lying down and sawing wood with eighth blackbird at Sanders Theatre

What an amazing group eighth blackbird is. They really make new music/contemporary classical music/21st-century music/what-have-you...FUN. They consistently bring out the theater in the compositions they play. And while they play very well, you hardly notice how hard they're working - at least I didn't. I was too busy soaking in the composer's vision, made clear by the fine musicianship...

Richard Dyer gives us the low down in today's Boston Globe:
Blackbird Displays Dramatic Flair

And here are a few photos from Sunday's Sanders performance:

eighth blackbird in flight: (Left to right) Lisa Kaplan, piano; Matt Albert, violin; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Molly Alicia Barth, flutes; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; and Matthew Duvall, percussion (in rear)

Pianist Lisa Kaplan tickles the ivories in camouflage pants

Percussionist Matthew Duvall (left) and Lisa Kaplan (right) introduce the distinctive 65-note pattern around which Frederic Rzewski's Les Moutons de Panurge is built.

(Left to right) Molly Alicia Barth, flutes; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; and Matthew Duvall, percussion

blackbirders horizontal for Gordon Fitzell's Lucid

More Fitzellian Lucidity

More as other reviews become available.

And since we mentioned this performance in an earlier post, here is Dyer's review of Frederic Rzewski's piano recital at Boston Conservatory last night.

Return of the Crocus

Belmont, Massachusetts, March 26, 2006

The London Philharmonic at Symphony Hall

The London Philharmonic came to Symphony Hall and the Celebrity Series on Friday evening. Things had changed since the performance was announced in our season brochure almost a year ago. For those of you in the dark about this, here is the short version: Kurt Masur fell ill and the Boston engagement was conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. Between Richard Dyer's review in today's Boston Globe and the audience reaction, I think it's safe to say the concert was a success.

Mr. Dyer on Maestro Tortelier:

Tortelier is the son of the great cellist Paul Tortelier, and he must have felt very emotional conducting in Symphony Hall; his father was principal cellist of the BSO in the 1930s. With his aureole of white hair, he was like a conductor from central casting. While his work is not about deep insight, it's musical, experienced, fiery, and theatrical; several times he levitated from the podium.

And here, with apologies to Alfred Stieglitz, are a few photos from the evening:

Yan Pascal Tortelier rehearses the orchestra

Pausing between selections

Waiting to go on

Friday, March 24, 2006

Either/Orchestra Orchestra

Nothing against the Akron Beacon Journal, but the Either/Orchestra shouldn't be listed under Classical Music....and by the way, E/O has finally gotten their chance at a live performance with Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed: Schedule (scroll to Paris show).

Repin and Lugansky in Seattle


Violinist Vadim Repin

R. M. Campbell of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave violinist Vadim Repin and pianist Nikolai Lugansky a quite favorable review for their March 22 recital in Benaroya Hall:

The musicianship was extraordinary for its depth of understanding and utter
command. The phrases were unusually supple; the tone varied from sweet to edgy;
the line long; the architecture coherent.

The pair played the same program they will bring to Boston and the Celebrity Series on Saturday, April 8: Bartók, Schubert, Pärt and Franck:

The program was invariably compelling, beginning with Schubert and ending with Arvo Part. Bela Bartok's First Rhapsodie opened the recital. Here the playing was almost harsh, decisive, propulsive. It moved with
determination yet grace, capturing the composer's flirtation with folk music,
19th-century romanticism and 20th-century modern tastes. It is a remarkable
piece, a staple of the violin literature, and Repin played it as such.

Boston's "First Lady of Opera" Sarah Caldwell dead at 82

Sarah Caldwell

Here is The Boston Globe coverage of Sarah Caldwell's passing from Friday, March 24.

UPDATE: Richard Dyer's page 1 obituary of Sarah Caldwell from the Boston Globe.

Biscuits and gravy, sleeping on church pews and barking like dogs...


...just another interview with a classical music ensemble. Eighth blackbird talks to the Boston Globe's David Weininger.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Kapilow on Nabokov, Nabokov on Nabokov

Rob Kapilow had a nice chat with Karen Campbell the other day, the results of which are in today's Boston Globe Calendar. The Q&A style write-up is an excellent, succinct overview of what Rob has been doing in Boston for, well, the last ten years (Happy Anniversary, Rob!) and elsewhere for longer. Here is Rob's take on what he's doing with Family Musik and What Makes It Great?:

"One of my real goals is that in the end, they hear the music differently. Nabokov wrote that a good reader is someone who writes in the margins, who folds down pages, who underlines, who has a conversation with the book. I’m trying to encourage active conversations with music."
Full text of the interview.

Something about this reference to Vladimir Nabokov triggered a memory - hadn't I read V.N. somewhere saying something about his own relationship to music? Well, rather than change buses and go straight to the library, I waited until I could get to a computer and click my way to the answer. And with almost no effort on my part, here is the sentiment I remembered, from a book of Playboy Magazine interviews of all things (as I recall, the Miles Davis and Ray Charles interviews in this same volume are terrific, too). The interview took place in 1964, here's V.N.:

"I have no ear for music, a shortcoming I deplore bitterly. When I attend a concert -- which happens  Vn about once in five years --  I endeavor gamely to follow the sequence and relationship of sounds but cannot keep it up for  more than a few  minutes. Visual impressions, reflections of hands in lacquered wood, a diligent bald spot over a fiddle, these take over, and soon I am bored beyond measure by the motions of the musicians. My knowledge of music is very slight; and I have a special reason for finding my ignorance and inability so sad, so unjust: There is a wonderful singer in my family -- my own son. His great gifts, the rare beauty of his bass, and the promise of a splendid career -- all this affects me deeply, and I feel a fool during a technical conversation among musicians. I am perfectly aware of the many parallels  between the art forms of music and those of literature, especially in matters of structure, but what
can I do if ear and brain refuse to cooperate?"

Boy, Rob sure knows where to go for his analogies. It seems V.N. (that's him in the photo above, with friend) could have really used Rob's help. Lucky for any of you that might feel the same way, you have access to Rob. In fact, he will be here this weekend, at the Tsai Center with Crossing the Divide (part of Family Musik) and again on June 2 with a program on the songs of Stephen Sondheim (part of What Makes It Great?).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

They Play Modern Composers

eighth blackbird

Keith Powers' article on the "new music" sextet eighth blackbird hits the streets today in several CNC Newspapers, one version, here carrying the headline Eighth Note: They Play Modern Composers, is from The Somerville Journal:

"When I tell people we specialize in contemporary music," says eighth blackbird
pianist Lisa Kaplan, "they think I mean Yanni or Enya. I have to let them know
that I mean classical music from living composers."

The article also runs in the Boston Herald this week. You can hear and see eighth blackbird at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge this Sunday, March 26 at 3pm.

"Electric Violinist"

Aram Khachaturian

According to Bradley Bambarger of The Newark Star-Ledger, violinist Sergey Khachatryan is the main attraction on the London Philharmonic's current U.S. Tour. There have been numerous substitutions at the podium as the tour's managers have scrambled to replace Maestro Kurt Masur, unable to tour because of a viral infection (see Yan Pascal Tortelier to Replace Kurt Masur with London Philharmonic from this blog). Newark drew their own Neeme Järvi as conductor.

Those made squeamish by the replacement of Maestro Masur despite Yan Pascal Tortelier's fine credentials (apparently there are very few of you) should certainly be reassured by Bambarger's contention that Khachatryan's performance of Aram Khachaturian's 1940 violin concerto is the highlight of the program and that the young violinist is a rising star:

"For all the charms of the Britten, the day belonged to Aram Khachaturian's 1940 Violin Concerto -- and the soloist for the piece, a 21-year-old fellow Armenian and near-namesake, Sergey Khachatryan. That this is a sorely undervalued score might be apparent to those who have heard the pioneering recordings by David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan. But Khachatryan's electric performance made a case for a work that would be hard for any music lover to deny."

Read Electric Violinist by Bradley Bambarger.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lovano, Souza, Lubambo, Weidman, Spalding and Mela at Sanders

Luciana Souza and guitarist Romero Lubambo in performance
at Sanders Theatre last Saturday

Our double-bill of Joe Lovano's Quartet and Luciana Souza with Romero Lubambo
was a remarkable concert filled with widely varied musical styles and
improvisational approaches. And clearly, the artists involved enjoyed
it immensely.

Among the memorable moments: Luciana Souza
creeping backstage from the green room to sit on the stairs with her
dinner following her set so she could hear Lovano's band...Joe Lovano
remembering his last visit with his friend guitarist Bill DeArango
in a Cleveland hospital...Luciana telling of one of her ancestors that
was a "Rain Caller," a kind of itinerant troubador that "called the
rain when it was needed"...Romero Lubambo remarking offhandedly that he
was heading home to the "United States of New Jersey"...The Quartet
lighting up Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman...Luciana's arrangement of But Not for Me...Joe Lovano ruminating over some old records as he signed them, "I've got to get Jamey Haddad to put this [Names] out on CD!"

A particularly fun evening among fun evenings.

The Joe Lovano Quartet mid-set at Sanders Theatre

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot this the first
time around: this concert was recorded by our friends at WGBH 89.7 fm
for later broadcast on JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. It will take
some time to choose the selections, get the artists input and mix it
all. Our Sweet Honey In The Rock show at Symphony Hall in November was
recently broadcast on JazzSet in numerous markets around the country,
so if you are outside WGBH's broadcast area, you can still here the
performance. Depending on where you are, check this weblog, JazzSet's web site, or WGBH for broadcast times and locations.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Paging Dr. Medrek

T.J. Medrek of The Boston Herald has identified the cause of the recent spate of ailing conductors...

Thanks, Ted!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shostakovich by Kapilow and the Pacifica Quartet

The latest installment of Rob Kapilow's popular series, What Makes It Great? took place on Friday evening at Jordan Hall. Rob and the Pacifica Quartet took on Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8, a work that has spawned numerous theories as to its meaning(s) and politics ("Just what is Shostakovich saying about Soviet oppression?"). The 8th quartet is considered by some to be a kind of orgy of self-reference, possibly even a self-requiem. Evidence abounds, from the theme, which built on Shostakovich's initials, to the snippets of his own compositions littered throughout (though grotesquely re-imagined). Rob's take on the 8th quartet (laid out with clear examples from the composer's correspondence) falls into this camp.

In any case, here are some photos of the event, none of which add to the 8th quartet debate in any way...







I especially like this last shot where Rob describes a particularly rancid bit of Shostakovichian (?)harmony.

Rob returns on March 25 (Family Musik) and June 2 (What Makes It Great?).

Narvin Kimball Dead at 97

Narvin Kimball

Banjo player Narvin Kimball, the last surviving founding member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band died Friday at his daughter's home in Charleston, South Carolina, where he had been staying since evacuating New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Kimball was 97 years of age.

As a member of "Pres Hall," Mr. Kimball made 27 appearances on the Celebrity Series between 1972 and 1999, among the very highest number of appearances by an individual in Celebrity Series's 67-year history. (obituary, Washington Post)

Wikipedia entry on Narvin Kimball

Photo: Preservation Hall Jazz Band/Infectious Publicity

Friday, March 17, 2006

Luciana Souza and Joe Lovano in the news

The Joe Lovano Quartet and Luciana Souza with guitarist Romero Lubamba perform at Sanders Theatre tomorrow night. As of now, there are tickets remaining. There were a couple of nice stories in The Boston Globe (Bill Beuttler) Boston Herald and suburban papers (Bob Young) on singer Luciana Souza.

Esperanza Spalding, the bass player for the Joe Lovano Quartet, had this to say about vocalist Luciana Souza to The Boston Globe's Bill Beuttler:

''I'll hear an album -- anything from Hermeto
Pascoal to Danilo Perez," Spalding says, ''and I'm like, 'Man, that singer's so
killin'.' And it's always [Souza] -- every time when I hear something crazy, and
the voice blows my mind."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Yan Pascal Tortelier to Replace Kurt Masur with London Philharmonic

Tortelieryanpascal_1Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier will replace Kurt Masur with the London Philharmonic in Boston on Friday, March 24 it was announced today. Violin soloist Sergey Khachatryan remains as soloist in Boston and the program is unchanged.

Bank of America Celebrity Series press release

Playbillarts News

At left, Maestro Yan Pascal Tortelier

UPDATE: A tongue in cheek (I hope) explanation of recent events: Paging Dr. Medrek (from this blog)

Newark reviewer says Khachatryan is rising star, Khachaturian concerto the highlight of program: Electirc Violinist (from this blog).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Chieftains Lead a Rollicking Party"

"It was quite the ceilidh at Symphony Hall on Saturday night..." wrote Linda Laban in her review of The Chieftains in Tuesday's Boston Globe. I'm not too proud to admit that "ceilidh" sent me clicking off to wikipedia for an explanation. Well, Linda was right, of course. You can find Linda's complete review here.

eighth blackbird gets physical

Where do you suppose eighth blackbird is performing right before they visit Cambridge, Mass. on March 26? Any guesses? Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall? Eastman School of Music? Curtis? The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario? That's right. The Institute describes itself as "a community of theoretical physicists dedicated to extending theories of space, time and matter . . . clearly, eighth blackbird is not your father or your mother's new music chamber ensemble, I thought to myself. While that's certainly true, after visiting the Institute's web site I found that two other Celebrity Series regulars are scheduled to perform there in March and April, The Juilliard String Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio. Clearly, the Perimeter Institute is not your father or your mother's institute for theoretical physics...

Photo courtesy of Windows to the Universe,

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Among the (very) contemporary compositions that eighth blackbird will perform at Cambridge's Sanders Theatre on March 26 is Les Moutons de Panurge, written in 1969 by Westfield, Massachusetts native Frederick Rzewski. Eighth blackbird recorded Les Moutons de Panurge for their most recent CD, fred, Music of Frederick Rzewski.

Eighth blackbird cellist Nicholas Photinos writes of the work (links mine):

Les Moutons de Panurge (the Sheep of Panurge) takes its title from a story found in the fourth book of Francois Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel. Pantagruel is traveling by ship with his rascally companion, Panurge, when their boat meets with a merchant ship carrying sheep. The merchants make fun of Panurge, though Panurge manages to buy one sheep from them after much haggling. Panurge then chucks the sheep into the sea, whereby all of the other sheep follow the sheep overboard, one after another. To this day, the phrase “sheep of Panurge” implies a person who blindly follows the lead of another.

Rzewski’s work, which is scored for any instruments, follows this concept in several ways. The work is constructed of only 65 notes, though Rzewski instructs the performer to follow an additive and then subtractive process. The performer plays the notes as follows: 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4, etc. until the 65 th note is reached, at which point the process is reversed by subtracting notes from the beginning (1-2-3-4…65, 2-3-4…65, etc.), until the 65 th note is reached and held. The pitfall is, of course, that rarely can people can stay together the whole time, and Rzewski indicates that when a performer gets off from the others, they stay off and continue to follow the rules. We have found that in rehearsing this work, as soon as one person gets off, other people gradually begin to get off as well, and so each player is obliged to follow the lead of the person who originally got lost.

Complete notes on Les Moutons de Panurge and the rest of eighth blackbird's March 26 program can be found here.

Daniel Varela interviewed Frederick Rzewski in 2003 for the online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever. Here is an excerpt of one of Rzewski's answers:

Personally, I remain optimistic, I believe very strongly that live music, as opposed to recorded music, will continue to survive and recorded music will collapse. I think perhaps the 20th century will be regarded by future generations like the "recording century," which leads to confusion between a work of art and its industrial reproduction. In a way similar to the notion of the ancient Egyptians about life after death (a very strange idea), in the 20th Century there was the strange idea that it was possible to freeze the music into a piece of plastic which you could then buy it in a store. I think that we have had some kind of return to a more traditional view, namely that music is something that one does, not something that comes to you. It's some form of activity so I think that we'll find new forms of folk music, something that appears spontaneously.

The full interview from Perfect Sound Forever is here.

Frederick Rzewski will give a free piano recital at Boston Conservatory on March 28. But you don't have to save that date, the All-Rzewski recital is sold-out. There are, however, still tickets available for eighth blackbird's March 26 performance at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge...

Oh, Canada!

Or should we say, "Aaaww, Canada!"

First it was "Canada Night" at the Celebrity Series, now we learn of the National Mitten Registry.

Now that's civilization...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Announcing: the Joe Lovano Quartet

Joe Lovano is bringing a remarkable young group with him to Sanders Theatre on March 18. There are several significant ties to Berklee College of Music in their stories. Here they are with a links so you can read up on them:

James Weidman, piano
Esperanza Spalding, bass
Francisco Mela, drums

Thanks to Steve Schwartz of WGBH's Jazz from Studio 4 for the links. Steve will be our onstage host at Saturday's concert.

Joe Lovano in the Daily News

Jazz critic Gene Santoro wrote a nice, if brief, feature on saxophonist Joe Lovano for Friday's New York Daily News.

We get Joe and his Quartet (along with vocalist Luciana Souza) this Saturday night, March 18, at the imtimate Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.

The St. Lawrence String Quartet and Menahem Pressler: Shiffman Leaves, Pressler Collaborates, Canada Gets Its Props, and Dyer Reviews


Composer R. Murray Schafer

The St. Lawrence String Quartet's concert Saturday evening at Jordan Hall marked several occasions. It was:

1. ...most likely, the last chance to hear Barry Shiffman perform in Boston with the St. Lawrence (see Shiffman to Leave St. Lawrence from this blog).

2. ...the occasion of a collaboration between the St. Lawrence and pianist and chamber music elder statesman Menahem Pressler, who as Richard Dyer points out in his review, is in the 60th year of his musical career (!). And who certainly plays with the rich musical experience and none of the infirmity that might imply.

3. ...half of an inadvertant Celebrity Series "Canada Night," as The Chieftains simultaneously performed around the corner at Symphony Hall with a peck of Canadian nationals (see Chieftains
on this blog). At Jordan, the St. Lawrence (Canadians) played, among other things a work by Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer (more on the work below). No doubt there will be more similar evenings, intentional or otherwise...Canadians are everywhere among the talented, it seems.

4. ...a rare performance of R. Murray Schafer's String Quartet No. 3. Classical music critic, Richard Dyer reviewed the performance for The Boston Globe/

"The second movement is wild: a parody of out-on-the-edge extreme
modernism as well as a superb example of the thing itself. The players
appear to generate and propel the instrumental music by strong
rhythmical shouting, primal screaming, and grunting; some of it sounds
like the soundtrack to a martial arts movie. The St. Lawrence's
performance was so uninhibited that it was both enthralling and

Read Richard's complete review, "Theatrical String Quartet Enthralls."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Chieftains at Symphony Hall, March 11, 2006

It was Canada Night at the Celebrity Series on Saturday, The Chieftains brought Jon and Nathan Pilatzke and their wild Ottawa Valley step dancing and The Cottars from Cape Breton (among many others) to Symphony Hall, while down the street at NEC's Jordan Hall the St. Lawrence String Quartet held forth in what will likely be Barry Shiffman's last Boston appearance with the Quartet (he is leaving the ensemble to work for Canada's Bannf Centre).

Here's a bit of a photo journal from Saturday night at Symphony Hall:

The Chieftains wait backstage to go on...

A lone piper waits for his spot in the program

The Chieftains (left front and on risers) in mid-performance with The Cottars (right side)


Left to Right: Matt Molloy, Paddy Moloney, Sean Keane and Nathan Pilatzke, with Jeff White on risers in the rear (apologies to Triona Marshall, out of the shot on the left and Kevin Conneff, knee just visible on the right)


The Celtic Tenors, standing at the front of the stage, join The Chieftains as surprise guests

All in all, a lovely evening. More on the Canadians at Jordan Hall later...

All photos by me.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Rumors of's demise have been greatly - well, somewhat - exaggerated. The site is back up, though the content seems to be mostly from November, 2005. Welcome back, buddy?

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Invitation to the Party, continued

Donna Walker-Kuhne

On Wednesday, March 8, The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Bank of America Celebrity Series, and Up You Mighty Race Performing Arts Company, co-hosted Invitation to the Party: Strengthening Multicultural Participation in our Arts and Cultural Organizations - A Community Dialogue Event with Donna Walker-Kuhne at the Calderwood Pavilion Rehearsal Hall at the Boston Center for the Arts. Ms. Walker-Kuhne is the author of Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to the Arts, Culture and Community. Audience members were invited to participate in a dialogue following Ms. Walker-Kuhne’s remarks and to continue that dialogue here.

The following is a list of questions presented at the event, they are presented again here to jumpstart the conversation.

1. What are the concerns you have about building diverse audiences for arts and culture?

2. Why is there a focus on people of color attending different types of cultural experiences beyond their own - and does that make the effort successful?

3. Why is it necessary to craft specific strategies to engage multicultural and younger audiences?

4. How can educators help prepare students to become patrons of the arts?

5. How does a community build an audience development initiative?

6. What can I as an audience member do to influence my peers to patronize the arts?

7. Does an increase in multicultural audiences correlate with an increase in multicultural arts programming?

More information:
Press Release for Strengthening Multicultural Participation in our Arts and Cultural Organizations - A Community Dialogue Event with Donna Walker-Kuhne

Walker International Communications Group web site

Audra McDonald, Blogger!


Here's a fun discovery: Broadway maven Audra McDonald is writing a rehearsal journal on the Metropolitan Opera Guild web site. Here is a brief description from the site:

"Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, who makes her
Houston Grand Opera debut in March singing a double-bill of "La Voix
Humaine" and Michael John LaChiusa's new opera,
"Send (who are you? I love
you)," chronicles the disquieting process of preparing for her first foray
into opera while mounting a new signature piece for the stage."

Here's an excerpt from Audra's journal:

"Went to bed last night convinced that I had some sort of flesh-eating disease
because the outer part of both my ears were killing me. They were completely
sore to the touch. I really had a serious moment of figuring out how to break
the news of my impending doom to Pete when I realized that I had “la
voixitis”: I have been singing for three days straight, with a phone
attached to my ear for three to four hours each day."

Audra McDonald's Rehearsal Journal, still underway, can be found here.

The Celebrity Series is bringing Ms. McDonald back to Sanders Theatre in Cambridge on Saturday, May 20.


Adorablog - "Some parts of the internet should be nice, for the nice people."

Concept by Unsinn.  Design by Sushiesque.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Bostonist and St. Botolph's Town on St. Lawrence String Quartet


In photo: The St. Lawrence String Quartet without Menahem Pressler

Shout outs, props, high-fives, strokes, raves and kudos to St. Botolph's Town and Bostonist for giving the Boston-area blogoshpere the heads/blogs up on the arrival of the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ) and pianist Menahem Pressler this Saturday. The post includes links on SLSQ, composer R. Murray Shafer, Bank of America Celebrity Series (ahem) and some downloadable music from the SLSQ web site - but don't take my word for it, click through and see for yourself. I recommend reading the whole post, there's something there for everyone and likely something new to everyone.

Why does this bit of regional Boston blogism make me so happy? Certainly, it's nice just to get attention for a worthy project, but maybe it's a reaction to this post from The Rest is Noise that had me a bit depressed about the status of classical music as some kind of "other" in certain circles. I guess it makes me happy to be in the frog pond with everyone else for a change.

The Bostonist post that lists the SLSQ date also lists The Wedding Present, Nada Surf, Boston Secession, and three ensembles presented by the Celebrity Series at one time or another, the Boston Camerata and the Sharq Arabic Music Ensemble and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (a variety that would make Alex Ross, and a lot of other like-minded folks, happy indeed). But like I said, read the whole thing...

How Much Information Is Too Much Information?

Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith has submitted plans to build an outdoor hot tub in his Edinburgh, Scotland home. The article, McCall Smith Books Plans for Home Spa, on also details efforts by McCall Smith's neighbor, author J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, to install a multi-camera home surveillance system on her property.

McCall Smith will leave his hot tub long enough to make an April 20 visit to Boston and the Celebrity Series.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Frank Rich Postponement

A little official news on the postponement of Frank Rich's February 12 engagement:

Frank Rich Has Been Rescheduled for 2006-2007 Season

Due to the severe weather on Sunday, February 12, 2006, the Celebrity Series presentation of Frank Rich at John Hancock Hall was postponed. The presentation has been rescheduled for Sunday, October 22, 2006 at 3pm at John Hancock Hall. This makes the Frank Rich presentation part of the 2006-2007 Celebrity Series season. Please retain your current ticket which will be honored on October 22, 2006. If you hold on to your ticket, please do not select Frank Rich as part of your 2006-2007 subscription for 2006-2007.

If you have Frank Rich tickets and cannot attend on October 22:
If you can't attend on October 22, you may exchange your tickets for another Celebrity Series performance in the current season. You may also make a tax-deductible donation to the Celebrity Series, equal to the value of your tickets, or you may request a refund. These options are only available until March 31. Please call (617) 482-2595 if you have not received a Frank Rich postponement form.

If you do not already have Frank Rich tickets and are interested in purchasing them:
Tickets for Frank Rich may be purchased as part of a 2006-2007 subscription in late April and as individual tickets in September. Check for information and available dates of sale.

This information is also available here.

Ailey Thrills Berkeley


Renee Robinson, dancing "like there's no tomorrow"

Just another day in the dance world . . . the sun rose and set, the earth rotated, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater turned in another brilliant tour de force . . . this time at UC Berkleley:

"Clifton Brown is not only incapable of an awkward moment, he is one of the most
stunning dancers on a stage in America. Dwana Adiaha Smallwood shaves her head
and attacks movement with the same fearless idiosyncrasy. Renee Robinson dances
like there is no tomorrow, same as always. The men are muscular, virtuosic, and
the women are stompers and flirts. Everyone pirouettes like ballet dancers
except barefoot, and they toss-off kicks that could whap heads."

The rest of Michael Wade Simpson's review of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in The San Francisco Chronicle can be found at: With the Ailey company, hold onto your chair or, better yet, just let it move with you.

I added a link to the Ailey company's web site above, but neglected to mention that Ailey has launched a new web site at that address, so check it out.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns for its annual spring engagement at The Wang Theatre April 25-30. The Ailey engagement, now in its 35th consecutive year (!) is presented by Bank of America Celebrity Series.

I Musici is Industrial Strength

OK, so I missed the rehearsal . . . and the sound check . . . but the empty stage (above, caught by my trusty roving Canon PowerShot S410) just before I Musici took the Symphony Hall stage Sunday afternoon (March 5) is more or less illustrative of one of the points Richard Dyer (of The Boston Globe) made in his review of the performance:

"The Italian string players, all male in the current configuration, provided something more than a mere backdrop, and then gave a lively large-scale account of the ''Serenata notturna," which sounded industrial strength, although there were only 12 players."

They are a small ensemble that can produce a great big, old-world sound.

Read the rest of Soloists Add Flare to I Musici's Return.

Alexander McCall Smith in The Hendon & Finchley Times

Amsmith_1Best-selling Zimbabwean author Alexander McCall Smith recently spoke with Neeta Dutta of London's Hendon & Finchley Times about humor, being a writer and playing saxophone in The Really Terrible Orchestra:

"'You are born a writer, I have always been one. You know you are one,' he says in an English accent that offers no hint of either his African childhood or his later life in Scotland. 'But I think it is important to have a career in a profession which provides life experience, you cannot write without experience.'"

Read all of African Tales Are Still Precious.

Alexander McCall Smith makes his Celebrity Series debut on Thursday, April 20 at John Hancock Hall.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

The Daily Papers on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

The Boston Herald's Tedd Bale reviewed last night's performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at The Shubert Theatre:
Dance troupe keeps fans on their toes.

Thea Singer reviewed Hubbard Street for today's The Boston Globe/
Ensemble Blends Styles with Ease.

The Bank of America Celebrity Series and Wang Center for the Performing Arts' engagement of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at The Shubert Theatre continues tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 3pm - details and tickets.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Even though it isn't about the numbers...

Launched in mid-August, this blog limped along for a time while a certain someone learned the ropes, and now.....has just had its 5000th page view! A real milestone (millstone?), even though it isn't about the numbers.

Thanks, readers!

Does that mean I know "the ropes" now?

Intro to four choreographers

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Nacho Duato's Gnawa

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago opens tonight at The Shubert Theatre (through Sunday). The last time Hubbard Street performed in Boston (in 2004, also with the Celebrity Series) audiences were wowed by the quality and variety of the offerings. The obvious hit of the 2004 engagement was Ohad Naharin's Minus 16. Many in the audience knew of Naharin's work, some knew Minus 16, but many were seeing, and being blown away by, Naharin's work for the first time.

I'm guessing many who will see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago over the next three days at The Shubert Theatre are also being introduced to the choreographers on this weekend's program, so here, along with the complete program, are web sites on or by the three choreographers:

Enemy in the Figure - (1989)
Choreography: William Forsythe
Choreography Assistance: Ana C. Roman,
Thomas McManus, and Ayman Harper
Original Score: Thom Willems
The Forsythe Company
William Forsythe Wikipedia entry

Strokes Through the Tail
- (2005) Boston Premiere
Choreography by Marguerite Donlon
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Marguerite Donlon web site

Float - (2003)
Choreography by Julian Barnett
Music by Orvar Smarson and Gunnar Tynes
Julian Barnett web site

Gnawa - (2005) Boston Premiere
Choreography by Nacho Duato
Music by Hassan Hakmoun, Adam Rudolph,
Juan Arteche, Xavier Paxadiño, Abou-Khalil,
Velez, Kusur and Sarkissian
Nacho Duato web site
Compañía Nacional de Danza

Ahem...Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is presented in Boston by Bank of America Celebrity Series AND The Wang Center for the Performing Arts.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Boston Dance Alliance wants to talk with you

The Boston Dance Alliance (BDA) is sponsoring Let's Talk!, "a conversation about building the dance community in Greater Boston" this Sunday, March 5 from 5-6:30pm at The Dance Complex (map) in Central Square, Cambridge.

About Let's Talk! (from the Boston Dance Alliance web site):

  • Share your ideas and build a new network.

  • Take this opportunity to let others in the community know about your plans.

  • Find others who might wish to collaborate with you.

  • Come find out about new BDA services.

  • Find out about all the benefits of using our fiscal sponsorship service, [including a great way to receive donations, apply for grants free access to workshops focusing on legal issues and long range planning.]

Let's Talk! is open to Members and non-members. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, call BDA at (617) 456-6295 or email.

Composer birthdays

Bedrich Smetana
Today, March 2, is the birthdate of:
Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, born today in 1824 in Leitomischi, Bohemia.
German composer Kurt Weill, born on this date in 1900 in Dessau.

Thanks to Classicalmanac.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Tedd Bale Gets In Step with William the Great


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago opens a three-night run at The Shubert Theatre this Friday at 7:30. The Boston Herald's Tedd Bale recently spoke with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Artistic Director Jim Vincent about choreogapher William Forsythe and his Enemy in the Figure (1989):

"'Bill has taken neo-classicism beyond where anyone could have imagined it would be 25 years ago,' says Vincent. 'We need about 80 marks on the floor to perform "Enemy," to indicate where rope, cables and one big 5,000 watt projector need to move throughout the dance.' Vincent likened the props and lighting to 'characters' in the ballet, equal to the dancers."

Read the complete article on