Friday, September 29, 2006

Beantown Settles for a Great Weekend

If you believe the weather forecasts you might think that a higher power is looking out for Darryl Settles and the Beantown Jazz Festival. The best weather of the weekend is scheduled for tomorrow when the Fest is outdoors, when the weather gets rough again on Sunday, they'll be in a hotel. Nice.

Here's Bob Young's preview of the Beantown Jazz Festival in The Boston Herald, and a bit about a worthy panel discussion on Miles Davis that includes Joel Brown (and is also part of the Beantown Fest).

"All Said and Done"

I can't bring myself to take down my blog roll link, but unless its creator has a change of heart, the St. Botolph's Town blog is through. That's too bad for all of us, she's a real pleasure to read, but she does have some valid reasons.

Friendly Reminder

Be sure to wear your costumes to the Family Musik presentation of Trick or Treat on October 29 at the Tsai Performance Center. Rob "Spooky" Kapilow will be wearing his...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Leonard Bernstein, Boston to Broadway (and sometimes to the Celebrity Series)

Leonard Bernstein, Bostonian

There's always something going on at Harvard and October is no different from any other month. From October 12 to 14, Harvard will present Leonard Bernstein, Boston to Broadway a dizzying parade of concerts, symposia, master classes, video screenings and exhibitions.

The opening concert, on October 12, is called “Boston’s Bernstein,” and it will feature Bernstein's Piano Trio (1937) and Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1942), as well as works by his mentors.

Among those to be featured in panel discussions are: Harold Prince, producer of Bernstein’s classic 1957 musical West Side Story; dance critic and scholar Deborah Jowitt; actor/singer Marni Nixon, the voice of “Maria” in the 1961 film version of West Side Story; as well as members of Bernstein’s family: daughters Jamie Bernstein Thomas and Nina Bernstein Simmons, son Alexander Bernstein, and brother Burton Bernstein.

Read all about it here: Leonard Bernstein, Boston to Broadway.

If I know you, you're probably wondering how many times the Celebrity Series presented Maestro Bernstein over the years. Your answer: 3 times conducting the New York Philharmonic and once leading the Orchestre National de France. Oh, and we also presented Bernstein as an accompanist (!) for soprano Helen Traubel during the 1941-42 season. The concert also included BSO cellist Jean Bedetti and Conrad V. Bos, who shared piano duties with Bernstein.

In With The new stuff we are doing that we're really proud of

What's new? Well, the whole 2006-007 season is "new" in one sense, new performance dates, new programs, etc. There has never been a February 25, 2007 before (outside of a Twilight Zone episode, anyway) and Dawn Upshaw's recital at Jordan Hall is one great thing that, barring an act of God, should be taking place that afternoon.

But what about the artists that haven't performed in Boston before or on the Celebrity Series before? Or what about the new works we are responsible - in whole or in part - for commissioning? Well there's this web page where you can find out, see...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Before and After with Ellis Marsalis

Jazz Times Magazine has for some time published a variation on the blindfold test called Before and After, in which a musician of note is asked to comment on musical selections before knowing the identity of the performers and again after learning to whom they were listening. It's fun in print, but it really hits home in online form, when you can hear the selections yourself, read the Before comments and then learn the performers' identity just like the interviewee while you read their comments.

I just happen to have come across a Before and After from March of this year featuring Ellis Marsalis, pianist and patriarch of the Marsalis clan, who will be a guest of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as part of "The New Orleans Revue" on October 15 at Symphony Hall, nudge, nudge.

This month's Before and After is with tap dance king Savion Glover - a bit of a departure for the column. Alert blog readers and Celebrity Series patrons will remember that we presented Mr. Glover in Classical Savion at Symphony Hall last year...not that you need a tie-in to read the article.

Friday, September 22, 2006



Alex Ross writes his remembrance of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the September 25 issue of The New Yorker. Ross took a little time to write his appreciation and it shows: warm memories and a rich and satisfying analysis, with apt quotes sprinkled throughout. Ross' thoughts are worth making oneself revisit the tragedy of her death.

"She broke through the façade of cool professionalism that too often
prevails in the classical world, showing the kind of unchecked fervor
that is more often associated with the greatest pop, jazz, and gospel
singers. She was often compared to Maria Callas, but she might have
been a shade closer to Mahalia Jackson."
Read all of Fervor

The New Yorker has also included a bit of audio of Ms. Hunt Lieberson and Charles Michener's article The Soul Singer from 2004.

"The Greatest Story Ever Sold"


Craig Crawford reviews Frank Rich's new book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of
Truth from 9/11 to Katrina
, in today's New York Times. I won't spoil it for you, but here's a clippet:

"Still, Mr. Rich ends his book by urging Americans to reject the pervasive
culture of blurred lines between truth and fiction, or to risk being 'exploited
by another master manipulator from either political party.' If the public does
not heed Mr. Rich’s warnings, perhaps the news media will answer his call for
coverage that more aggressively separates fiction from reality as a step toward
a more truthful civic life."
Read the whole review (login required).

Mr. Rich will get his chat on at an appearance rescheduled from last season at John Hancock Hall on October 22.

"Sense in the Sound"

Lots of people are seizing on jazz singer Cassandra Wilson's much-anticipated appearance in Boston as an opportunity to write about her. It's not our show (though Ms. Wilson has graced our stage), but I say it's fitting and proper. And one article stands out for me. In this week's Boston Phoenix, Jon Garelick picks up a thread that a number of critics have weighed-in on in the past (notably jazz critic Gary Giddins), that of singers singing as if they know the meaning of the words, thus conveying the meaning of lyrics effectively, versus those that don't convey meaning as well, and assorted implications. Discussions on this theme are often centered on the eternal question: "why-can't-we-boomers-sing-standards-as-well-as-our-parent's-generation-did." A worthy topic, and Garelick enlarges the scale to cover more styles. There is much more to the story than my shorthand, of course, which is why I recommend you read Sense in the Sound.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too good to keep to myself

Want to know how to build a robot from a coat hanger? Well, I did. The Boing, Boing editor says it isn't really a robot, but it's that kind of attitude that has kept great thinkers throughout history from frittering away their time on foolish pursuits...

Voice of Dance

I've just gotten wind of a swell dance site, Voice of Dance. It's packed, PACKED (PACKED, I say) with info and even a brief scan yields some notable journalists herein writing well about dance (Anna Kisselgoff, Christine Temin to name just two) not to mention listings of dance nationwide and a forest of links. Good stuff. Bookmark it now, I'll wait...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Regenius Carter

A pensive Regina Carter, no doubt weighing her new options

I'm sure she's been called a genius before, but the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have made it official: jazz violinist Regina Carter is a 2006 MacArthur Fellow, and as such, will be awarded $500,000 over the next five years; a so-called "genius grant."

Though she is now a New Yorker (can a person live on $500,000 in New York anymore?), Ms. Carter spoke with her hometown paper, The Detroit Free Press about the honor:

"Q: When did you get the call?

A: Last week sometime, which was crazy, because they said you can't tell anyone. I said, 'Gee, thanks. You unload that on me and then tell me to keep quiet.' They allowed me to tell one person, so I told my husband."

Read the full text of the interview: Detroiter Carter reactes to winning $500,000 grant.

Of course, it is my duty to remind you, gentle reader, that Ms. Carter performs with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater on January 27 at Sanders Theatre.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Re-Prepared Piano

This seems like an inevitable development, given where digital technology is going and what it has left in its wake to date. The Well-Tempered Blog, an always reliable source for all things piano, brings us this bit of news on digital recreationism, the re-recording, with corrections, of renowned piano recordings. Fascinating, disturbing, wonderful, heinous, I suppose a lot of perpsectives are possible. I'll even confess to being curious enough to make a purchase at some point, I mean, I wish Art Tatum and others had access to better instruments, too. But I won't be replacing anything in my personal library, that's for certain.

My soapbox self wants to state for the record, in front of God and everybody, that this is further proof of the live performance as a bastion of truth (Thus endeth the lesson...).

The source article, from The Observer, can be found here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Take your Sousaphones to London

I thought loyal readers might want an update of my August 24 post on British carry-on-luggage restrictions. It seems the British have relaxed their restrictions and will now allow musical instruments onto planes. Still, it was a real problem there for a while.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads up.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Moscow Philharmonic Hoax

Here's a strange item from the Museum of Hoaxes web site: In August 2000, The Moscow Philharmonic, which the Celebrity Series has presented three times in the last 40 years (ahem), was impersonated in a series of Hong Kong concerts by a phantom orchestra going by the name of The Moscow Philharmonic. The concerts got good reviews, too, apparently. Now there isn't any documentation at the link above, but there is some discussion of the event online. I leave it to you budding Conan Doyle's out there to slice through the web and get to the bottom of this.

And if you need a hat for your sleuthing, try Miller Hats, the source of the image above.

Now, neither the Moscow Philharmonic nor the phantom orchestra is the National Philharmonic of Russia (which, ahem, is coming to Boston March 16). So much for smooth transitions...

Casting for Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake

Okay, all you balletomaniacs, Kirov casting for Swan Lake (November 9-12) is in! Of course, I must tell you this is all subject to change. So this casting might change a bit, but the story will still be Swan Lake, well, with the Soviet-era happy ending... you get the idea - great ballet.

Dancer links are to bios from the Mariinsky Theatre web site. Feast your eyes...

The Kirov Ballet and Orchestra in Swan Lake
November 9-12, the Wang Theatre, Boston

Thursday, November 9, 7:30pm, The Wang Theatre
Odette/Odile: Uliana Lopatkina
Prince Siegfried: Igor Zelensky
The Princess Regent, Siegfried’s Mother: Elena Bazhenova
The Prince’s Tutor: Petr Stasyunas
Friends of the Prince: Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina, and Anton Korsakov
A Jester: Andrei Ivanov
Rothbart, an Evil Sorcerer: Ilya Kuznetsov

Friday, November 10, 8pm, The Wang Theatre
Odette/Odile: Diana Vishneva
Prince Siegfried: Andrian Fadeev
The Princess Regent, Siegfried’s Mother: Elena Bazhenova
The Prince’s Tutor: Petr Stasyunas
Friends of the Prince: Daria Sukhorukova (from corps), Tatiana Tkachenko, and Vasily Scherbakov
A Jester: Andrei Ivanov
Rothbart, an Evil Sorcerer: Maxim Chashchegorov (from corps)

Saturday, November 11, 2pm, The Wang Theatre
Odette/Odile: Victoria Tereshkina
Prince Siegfried: Danila Korsuntsev
The Princess Regent, Siegfried’s Mother: Elena Bazhenova
The Prince’s Tutor: Petr Stasyunas
Friends of the Prince: Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina, and Anton Korsakov
A Jester: Grigory Popov (from corps)
Rothbart, an Evil Sorcerer: Ilya Kuznetsov

Saturday, November 11, 8pm, The Wang Theatre
Odette/Odile: Alina Somova
Prince Siegfried: Igor Kolb
The Princess Regent, Siegfried’s Mother: Elena Bazhenova
The Prince’s Tutor: Petr Stasyunas
Friends of the Prince: Nadezhda Gonchar, Tatiana Tkachenko, and Vasily Scherbakov
A Jester: Andrei Ivanov
Rothbart, an Evil Sorcerer: Maxim Chashchegorov (from corps)

Sunday, November 12, 3pm, The Wang Theatre
Odette/Odile: Daria Pavlenko
Prince Siegfried: Igor Zelensky
The Princess Regent, Siegfried’s Mother: Elena Bazhenova
The Prince’s Tutor: Petr Stasyunas
Friends of the Prince: Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina, and Anton Korsakov
A Jester: Andrei Ivanov
Rothbart, an Evil Sorcerer: Ilya Kuznetsov

Friday, September 8, 2006

15k makes my day

15000rubles This image of a 15,000 ruble note from the early 1920s is my way of illustrating the likely value to you, the reader, of this next fact: this blog just hit 15,000 page views...!

As for me, I love a nice round number. Read on!

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Celebrity Series performance archive now online

It isn't many things: it isn't as pretty as it will be, it isn't searchable, and it isn't complete (there were lots of "add-on" performances that went largely undocumented back in the day), but the entire performance history - the confirmed bits, anyway - from the founding 1938-39 season through 2005-06, of the Celebrity Series is now online (whew!). I will be adding relevant links to web sites on the artists, adding performances and details as they can be confirmed, and generally beautifying the page in the coming months.

Celebrity Series Performance Archive

Also, another work in progress now online is a list of concerts presented by Aaron Richmond prior to his founding the Celebrity Series, or at least prior to calling his activities, a "Celebrity Series."

Early Aaron Richmond Performances Archive

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Ho hum, more rare manuscripts

Ok, so they're only copies Bach made of Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reinken's music, not some brand new discovery by a giant, but doesn't it seem like there's a new manuscript by a one of the Great Masters found every few weeks these days? Of course, my desk being in the state it's typically in, I can understand losing paperwork, but a Bach score? Here's the Bach manuscript copies story via the BBC.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Benny, Bojangles and Bernard Shaw from the vault

Milton, Mass., native Agnes Moorhead

I've been doing a little digging through the Celebrity Series archives this summer in preparation for putting our performance history online, and I've come across a few historical gems that I think are worth sharing. Older readers will, I trust, forgive my "gee whiz" reactions at realizing that icons indeed walked the earth, and that some of them even worked for a living.

Among the many finds: numerous recitals from the 1920s with a piano accompanist by the name of Arthur Fiedler, a 1943 duo-piano recital at Jordan Hall that was canceled because one of the pianists was drafted (!), the Boston debut of the Trapp Family Singers' (yes, The Sound of Music kids) in 1940 (they got through Edelweiss and got over here quickly), and in 1951, there was an engagement of the First Drama Quartette in George Bernard Shaw's Don Juan in Hell, with a cast that included Charles Laughton, Charles Boyer, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Agnes Moorhead.

Thebartoks_3 Ditta Pásztory and Bela Bartók in 1937

And this...the exact billing in an ad for a concert from the 1940-41 Aaron Richmond Celebrity Series reads: "Benny Goodman, appearing with noted Hungarian violinist, Joseph Szigeti, and the noted Hungarian composer Bela Bartók." Say what? Who knew that concert had ever taken place? Well, not me. And how did one of the greatest composers of the 20th century rate third on the bill? (Well, I guess that part is typical). A few programs later, an ad related that Bartók's wife, Ditta Pásztory, was also on the bill. Quite a group.

Bojangles_3 The previous season, in 1939, the Celebrity Series presented an engagement of Hot Mikado, the jazz version of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, to benefit Masasachusetts Memorial Hospitals (this was before the Series was a not-for-profit corporation, of course, when Mr. Richmond actually pitched the Series as a fundraising vehicle for other organizations). OK, that's a charming enough bit of history as it stands, but the kicker is that the cast featured Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (that's him on the right). Yup, Mr. Bojangles was once presented by the Celebrity Series. Put that in your pipe.