Sunday, June 24, 2007

Don't make us do it


Some people post cat pictures...

To all of our as-yet-unrenewed subscribers, past subscribers, and other various fence-sitters: We want you to know we understand your hesitancy. After all, it's summer now, and the cold weather seems so very far off and we have offered a dizzying variety of choice for 07-08. But you know that you need to take care of your winter self now - the concert season will be upon us all before we know it. Don't make us release the bison, subscribe today at

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ira Gershwin, observing New York in 1918

"Sniffed in a day: Onions, whiskey, garbage, fur and camphor balls, fountain pen ink, fresh newspapers. Heard in a day: An elevator's purr, telephone's ring, telephone's buzz, a baby's moans, a shout of delight, a screech from a "flat wheel," hoarse honks, a hoarse voice, a tinkle, a match scratch on sandpaper, a deep resounding boom of dynamiting in the impending subway, iron hooks on the gutter."

-an entry from the personal diary of Ira Gershwin, circa 1918, as quoted in Fascinating Rhythm, The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin, by Deena Rosenberg.

There will be more coming on George and Ira Gershwin, since Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? is taking on The Songs of George Gershwin on February 2 (that's February 2, 2008).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Camerata Ireland, on the road again

Conductor/pianist Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland are trotting the globe of late, having played concerts in Kilkenny, Dublin, the Naantali Festival in Finland, and the Library of Congress's Rediscover Northern Ireland program in Washington, D.C. all in the last month (sounds like a Red Sox road trip!). The Clandeboye Festival is on tap for August. The Belfast Telegraph has the skinny on this young (they were founded in 1999) and energetic orchestra: Irish musicians take international festivals by storm.

The Camerata Ireland and Barry Douglas play NEC's Jordan Hall on March 7, 2008. The Celebrity Series is offering tickets for the performance to its 2007-2008 subscribers as a free bonus event.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Introducing Strange Maps


Due to the initiative of a certain Celebrity Series staffer (this one's for you, LJ), there has been more than a little discussion of the science of economics 'round these parts in recent weeks. It is in the spirit of econ chit-chat that I share with you a most unusual map (above, but click here for a larger version) and a most unusual, and apparently quite popular, blog (here). The map matches, and renames, the US states with the countries most closely matching their Gross Domestic Product. The kind of fun only economists can truly enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

McSweeney's Selling-Off Inventory

McSweeney's, the Literary Quarterly, Publisher, purveyor of the unusual, and I don't know what-all, is having an online fire-sale of sorts. Though you may be unfamiliar with McSweeney's, they are an outlet for a lot of writers you probably do know. They publish works by the likes of Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Nick Hornby, David Byrne, Art Spiegelman, and Sarah Vowell (Vowell makes her Celebrity Series debut this season on February 8, with David Rakoff, in case you were looking for a CS tie-in...). It seems that McSweeney's distributor has gone out of business, leaving them $130,000 in the hole (more on the story here). They have responded by putting many items in their online catalog on sale at steep discounts (I just ordered the 1855 linguistic train wreck and unintended classic, English As It Is Spoke for half-price) and are even holding a rare items auction on e-Bay.

I don't know how long any of these links will be in operation - neither does McSweeney's, I'll gather - so I recommend acting quickly if you are likely to act at all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Early Summer in Boston for the non-Bostonian


Blue skies, clean air, everything in full leaf - this is the kind of day that sees Boston crawling with postcard photographers and high school students on field trips. The kind of day that makes it difficult not to lord it over friends in other towns that you live here and they don't.

Lately, there are shorter lines for coffee in the morning, traffic on Storrow Drive is more or less bearable and there is more room on the T than there was a month ago. You probably didn't notice exactly when, but the annual student decampment has happened. In the eyes of many, Boston is about college. People come here to go to school and they move on. By this time each year, college students - the undergrads, anyway - have mostly cleaned out there dorm rooms and gone home to Otherplace, New Jersey, or Brookfarmport, Illinois. Personally, I love the energy they bring to the city, and whether we know it or not, we all love the money they spend here. But it is nice each summer to breath deep, stretch and enjoy a little living space.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Black Grace documentary to air on PBS


PBS television stations around the country will soon be airing a new documentary on Black Grace Dance Company, Black Grace: From Cannon's Creek to Jacob's Pillow. For the uninitiated, Black Grace is New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company and one of the world's only (other examples, anyone?) companies creating "Pacific-infused contemporary dance."

Black Grace was founded by the remarkable choreographer, Neil Ieremia, whose work embodies three important Samoan principles: Fa'amaoni (integrity, honesty and pride), Fa'amalosi/Loto Tele (perseverance and determination) and Fa'aloalo (humility and respect). Ieremia says of Black Grace:

"Art is an important part of who we are as a young nation. Our stories, ideas and expression of these are just as valid and important as those from Europe and America. Why can't a New Zealand dance company be the best in the world? We're the only ones standing in our way."

The documentary's PBS mini-site (see link above) features samples from the video of the company in performance, interviews with Black Grace founder Neil Ieremia and Jacob's Pillow Executive Director Ella Baff, and a link to purchase the DVD of the program.

So far, I have only been able to find one broadcast of Black Grace: From Cannon's Creek to Jacob's Pillow scheduled for the Eastern Mass., New Hampshire, Rhode Island PBS television axis: WGBH 44 will broadcast the documentary on Friday, June 22 at 5am. I'm guessing/hoping that more will follow in this area. For those elsewhere in the U.S., visit the PBS mini-site to search for your area.

The Celebrity Series of Boston will present Black Grace April 17 & 18, 2008, at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University.

UPDATE: My friends at WGBH tell me that the Black Grace documentary will be aired a number of times later this season. Consider June 22 a sneak preview from the National Feed. Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Once more, with feeling


"I haven't understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.

—Igor Stravinsky

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wild turkey at Costco, or blogging on the wing

For those out-of-town readers whose images of Boston are limited only to wharves, quaint brick buildings and old money, I say, you ain't seen Boston, bruthah. Boston has actual 'burbs with actual mega-marts and actual parking lots (with actual parking spaces!!) - like most places. However, gentle reader, even I can be a bit surprised. I have seen racoons and even the odd skunk lurking near my quaint Northwest digs on occasion, but Boston, er, Waltham has upped the ante by having wild turkeys running pell mell through it's parking lots in broad daylight as if on some turkey double-dare (see above). I just managed to get this turkey/Yeti into the frame as he/she made tracks, lickety-split, for Lexington. Top that, East Orange.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tulsa Time

It's the concrete sarcophagus for you!

On June 15, 1957 a brand new Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe was "swaddled in rust-resistant preservatives and gently placed inside a giant concrete sarcophagus" as part of a time capsule to opened - you guessed it - 50 years later on June 15, 2007.

Complete details, including images and even a video of the interrment, can be found here at the Telstar Logistics blog, a delightful little fraud that's worth a closer look in its own right. I often wonder why those burying time capsules don't give them a little more time accrue impact.

Monday, June 4, 2007

A few memories from the past season

Clint Maedgen and Bingo!

The Celebrity Series 2006-2007 season is behind us. But before the 2007-2008 season gets going, I want share a few of my favorite memories from the season's performances while I still remember them:

Clint Maedgen and Bingo alarming Symphony Hall staff by scampering around with their guerilla vaudeville side-show in and on a suitcase . . . Vladimir Ashkenazy coming offstage at the NHK Symphony concert and saying to no one in particular, "La Mer, it's a MIRACLE!" . . . New York Times columnist Frank Rich chatting backstage with his one-time undergraduate English professor, Richard Dyer (also known in these parts as the former classical music critic of The Boston Globe). We tapped Mr. Dyer to introduce Rich (God, we're good!) . . . and Rich later signing copies of  The Greatest Story Ever Sold at John Hancock Hall while his son, Simon (the one with the two-book deal while still an undergrad), waited quietly nearby looking no older than twelve . . . violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter scrunching up her face with disdain when a patron at her CD signing asked her to autograph a violin she had brought, "No, I can't do THAT" . . . Angelika Kirchschlager giggling right before going onstage at Jordan Hall after confessing that she just wanted "some chocolate right now" . . . vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater ooh-ing and aah-ing (before signing) my well worn copy of Suite for Pops by the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Big Band which she recorded with the band at age 19 . . . Complexions Contemporary Ballet utterly FILLING UP the stage at the Tsai Center for the Performing Arts . . . the amazing Garrison Keillor coming to Symphony Hall coatless in 20 degree weather, doing 90 solo minutes with no intermission and no notes, standing in the hallway outside the stage door until the last well-wisher left, then heading to his hotel to write his newspaper column . . . though she eventually canceled in Boston, Dawn Upshaw's game attempt to keep as many dates as possible on her tour after battling cancer . . . conductor Riccardo Chailly, clearly thrilled to have his job, giving a lengthy lecture on the history of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra to Arthur Nikisch's grand nephew, who lives here in Boston . . . Barbara Cook's gorgeous singing and utterly natural onstage banter . . . Wynton Marsalis' always amazing Symphony Hall encore. This year's edition: a blues with a piano and exhausted Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) remarking to his bandmates as they headed out on the town, "Wow, you guys are party animals" . . . larger than life personality, Karita Mattila, telling well-wishers about the clothes and costume jewelry her mother wore on the farm - she managed to be hilarious, respectful and completely complimentary at the same time . . . Bobby McFerrin's doubletake and laughter as he came offstage and glanced at Symphony Hall's backstage clock (yes, Bobby, you were singing that long, not that we're complaining) . . .

I invite any of you to submit your own memories from the Celebrity Series of 06-07 . . .

BMOP Composer in Residence blogs on CS concert, with photos

Lisa Bielawa, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's Composer in Residence, has posted some reflections and photos of BMOP's May 19 performance at Sanders Theatre on her Myspace blog. The concert was the final performance of both BMOP's season and ours.