Friday, December 21, 2007

"Ailey Family Celebrates One of Its Own"

Masazumi Chaya of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Ailey company honored Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya on Tuesday evening at City Center in New York. Anyone familiar with the company and Chaya's role in it understands why they would choose to honor him, he's beyond a fixture in the company. Jennifer Dunning covered the event for today's New York Times:

"Chaya, as he is known throughout the dance world, is now its beloved associate
artistic director. On Tuesday night at City Center, the troupe honored him on
his 35th anniversary at Ailey, with film and reminiscences from the stage by
colleagues includingJudith Jamison , the 1970s Ailey star who directs the company."

Read all of Ailey Family Celebrates One of Its Own.

And did I mention that the Ailey company is coming to Boston February 7-10?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jonathan Papelbon turns in his dog

Snowman from my yard symbolizing the coldest hot stove on record

I ask you, what's a performing arts oriented blog without a Red Sox posting thrown in every now and then? For those of you who don't care - and I know you're out there (are you listening Denver?) - Soho the Dog has some smartfunny posts on Christmas carols that are sure to please (plus, he sells t-shirts to promote his blog and gives the proceeds to charity). This won't take long.

Today's headlines brought some Papelbonia, and this time of year, with the coldest hot stove this fan can remember, I'll take it! Today's story on Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and what happened to the final-out ball of the 2007 World Series just takes the cake. My question is, why did the Doug Mientkiewicz (men-KAY-vich, remember?) version of ballgate annoy just a little while Papelbon's antics are just funny? No, really, I'm asking...

Still, I and others agree that the mutilated baseball would make an interesting display in Cooperstown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas card delivered 93 years late (but delivered)

It was postmarked December 23, 1914 in Alma, Nebraska and it was mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, Kansas, and it just arrived.

I suppose the lesson to take from this is to "mail as early as possible."

Or perhaps, "pick up the phone because life is too short."

How about "be sure not to die because you could have mail?"

Barry Douglas on Penderecki

Barry Douglas

Pianist Barry Douglas played the world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's 2007 version of Resurrection (conducted by the composer) with the Cincinnati Symphony on December 7. A 2-segment video of Douglas's interview on WGUC in which the Douglas discusses a wide range of topics can be found here.

Barry Douglas makes his way to the Celebrity Series and Boston's Jordan Hall with Camerata Ireland on Friday, March 7.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bob Blumenthal on Eric in the Evening tonight


Former Boston Globe jazz critic Bob Blumenthal will be on WGBH radio's Eric in the Evening program tonight. Here's some official copy:

"Eric Jackson welcomes renowned Jazz critic Bob Blumenthal to the WGBH 89.7 studios, tonight at 8pm. They will spin some records and discuss Blumenthal new book, Jazz: An Introduction to the History and Legends Behind America's Music.

Blumenthal began writing jazz criticism in 1969 for the Boston Phoenix, where he was a contributing writer until 1989. He began writing a weekly column for the Boston Globe in 1993 and contributes to publications including the Atlantic Monthly, Village Voice, and Down Beat. Blumenthal's other projects include an ongoing affiliation with the RVG reissue series from the Blue Note label; serving as critic in residence at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vt.; and serving as a permanent creative consultant for Marsalis Music, the Boston-based record label founded by saxophonist Branford Marsalis. Blumenthal received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2005.

Tune in at 8pm TONIGHT on 89.7 in New England and worldwide at"

Bob is also a remarkably skilled parallel parker. Really. You should see him in action. Bios so often leave out the best stuff...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Denk knocks 'em dead in Schenectady

Pianist Jeremy Denk wowed his Schenectady, New York, audience Tuesday evening with an unusual Beethoven/Ives program:

"Performing at Union College, the 37-year-old American offered only two sonatas, but each is a doozy: Ives' 'Concord' and Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier.' And his approach to each work was unexpected, applying a spacious romanticism to the Ives and highlighting the modern extremes in the Beethoven."

Read the complete Albany Times-Union review of Denk's recital here.

And then there's Jeremy Denk's popular blog, Think Denk.

Jeremy Denk makes his Celebrity Series debut as part of Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? on Saturday, May 10 at NEC's Jordan Hall. Kapilow and Denk will explore Beethoven's "Waldstein" sonata.

Audra McDonald as amoral prostitute on Great Performances

Audra McDonald as Jenny in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Broadway star Audra McDonald, she of the golden throat plus acting chops, is already making a splash on Private Practice; which makes a nice complement to her previous specials, appearances with the Pops, etc. Now, in an apparent bid to justify her own television channel (I vote for calling it Audravision...) the fabulous Ms. McDonald will star in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on PBS' Great Performances this Monday, December 17 (the first of several broadcasts on WGBH: schedule). On the accompanying PBS background pages you can find a dialogue with McDonald and co-star Anthony Dean Griffey, and a video clip of McDonald singing Alabama Song.

Audra McDonald will sing live for a Celebrity Series audience on Friday, May 16, 2008 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.

More reviews of Ailey at City Center

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Maurice Bejart's Firebird

The reviews of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's run at City Center keep coming as they always do this time of year. Ailey's annual December run is our first inkling of what is in store for the Company's Boston engagement, so they are much anticipated around the Celebrity Series offices.

Here is the latest crop:

The New York Times: Fame’s Demands, and the Flights of Fancy to Escape (Jennifer Dunning)

The Village Voice: Flaming Creatures (Deborah Jowitt)

New York Post: No 'Flowers' Power (Clive Barnes)

Gay City News: Spunk and Flight (Lori Ortiz) (tip o' the hat to Great Dance blog)

The New York Sun: Dancing on the Subway (Joel Lobenthal)

Bloomberg News: Thierree's Magic Tricks Charm at BAM; Alvin Ailey: (2nd half of article) (Tobi Tobias

Newsday: Review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Apollinnaire Scherr)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Piano maker Bösendorfer to be sold to Yamaha

Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna

It appears that the Japanese company Yamaha has reached an agreement to purchase a controlling stake in Austrian piano manufacturer Bösendorfer from current owner BAWAG PSK. Bösendorfer is one of the world's most distinguished piano makers and their pianos are known for several key characteristics, among them are their durability (Franz Liszt is said to have preferred them as the only pianos that could withstand his virtuosic onslaughts), a rich, full sound, and unique models featuring 92 and 97-key keyboards in addition to the traditional 88-key models. Yamaha said it intends to keep Bösendorfer's manufacturing facilities in Austria.

Press release on the sale from Bösendorfer's official web site article

Playbill Arts article

BBC Music Magazine article

AFP article

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Amanda Baggs: "In My Language"

Aside from the ideas Amanda outlines in this video, and which she communicates better than I can (and which are the real point here), my discovery of her blog gave me the clearest sense I have yet had that new technologies can actually open up worlds of communication and interaction that were previously closed to us (closed to us for a number of reasons, including our own stupidity). In short, maybe internet-based web 2.0-type technology can live up to the hype. Check out more of Amanda's videos on YouTube and her blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stockhausen was a rock star (sort of)

Felsenmusick, the blog home of composer Daniel Felsenfeld (whose surname I can't help saying to myself repeatedly - a mellifluous mantra), contains a thoughtful item on the now deceased composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen. Felsenfeld (there it is again!) takes issue with the many obituaries, remembrances, diatribes, screeds and the like written about Mr. Stockhausen since his death that paint a picture of an under appreciated artist, in fact Stockhausen was anything but under appreciated. Read Karlheinz Fallout.

Grammy Update

I finally got around to looking at the complete Grammy Award list and found a few other Celebrity Series of Boston artists from this season (tons from other seasons, as usual...ahem).

Turns out Maria Schneider and the Maria Schneider Orchestra were nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Sky Blue, and Maria's Cerulean Skies from the same album was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition. Maria and the Orchestra made their Celebrity Series debut November 18 at the Berklee Performance Center.

Not to be outdone, pianist Marc-André Hamelin was nominated in the Best Instumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) for his Haydn: Piano Sonatas album on Hyperion. Mr. Hamelin makes his celebrity Series debut January 26 at NEC's Jordan Hall. Pianist and Celebrity Series regular, Garrick Ohlsson was also nominated in the category.

Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff (who sang this past November 19 with the Berlin Philharmonic, you'll recall), whose recording The Jazz Album - Watch What Happens (Deutsche Grammophon), was nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album.

Among the many Celebrity Series alumni represented on the Grammy list, well, the ones that jumped out at me, were Eighth Blackbird, with 3 (count 'em!) nominations for Best Chamber Music Performance for their Strange Animals recording on the Cedille label, Best Classical Contemporary Composition (Jennifer Higdon, Zaka) and Best Producer of the Year, Classical (Judith Sherman).

Other nominees that once graced a Celebrity Series stage and may again are Joni Mitchell, Joe Lovano, Paquito D'Rivera, Soweto Gospel Choir, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Sweet Honey In The Rock (Best Musical Album for Children, by the way), Renee Fleming, and Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists. The late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson received three nominations for Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs on Nonesuch.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen, 1928-2007

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the 20th century's most influential composers has died. He had no specific involvement with this organization that I am aware of (usually my requirement for comment on this blog), but his influence was/is too pervasive to pass without comment, in this case, my "comments" take the form of links. Undoubtedly, Karlheinz Stockhausen had an effect on something that took place on one of our stages at some time - probably more than we realize.

Karlheinz Stockhausen official web site

Karlheinz Stockhausen Myspace page

Karlheinz Stockhausen wikipedia page

New York Times obituary (Associated Press)

Los Angeles Times obituary (Mark Swed)

Washington Post obituary (Matt Schudel)

National Public Radio obituary (Tom Huizenga)

BBC News obituary

Canadian Broadcasting Company obituary

Bloomberg News obituary (Mark Beech)

Guardian (UK) obituary (Ivan Hewett)

The Rest Is Noise obituary (Alex Ross)

Karlheinz Stockhausen interview on You Tube

List of works by Karlheinz Stockhausen (.pdf)

Ailey in The NY Times: "Highly Charged Moves from Familiar Pieces"

Alvin Ailey's Night Creature

The Ailey company's Masazumi Chaya has revived a modern classic in Tally Beatty's The Road of the Phoebe Snow from 1959. Jennifer Dunning reviewed the work for the December 6 New York Times, along with Alvin Ailey's The River and Night Creature. All three works were performed as part of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's annual run at New York's City Center.

The Road of the Phoebe Snow will make its Boston premiere on Friday, February 8, and Night Creature will be performed on Saturday, February 9 at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 10 at 3:00 p.m. Click here for tickets and information on these performances and the rest of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Celebrity Series of Boston engagement, February 7-10.

Read all of Crisscrossing the Stage, Highly Charged Moves From Familiar Pieces.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cherryholmes earns Grammy nomination


It was announced yesterday that Cherryholmes received a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album 'Cherryholmes II Black And White' (Not that it surprised anyone).

Other Best Bluegrass Album nominees include: J.D. Crowe and The New South, Jim Lauderdale, Tony Trischka and Seldom Scene.

The Grammy Awards will air on CBS on February 10th, at 8:00 pm (est).

Tickets and information for Cherryholmes' March 2 engagement at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge can be found here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, veggies on the march!

It's become clear to me, as I'm sure it will to you, that plants are making a power play. It started with the whole, "veggies are better for you" thing, and then it was hemp clothes, biodiesel and making hypoallergenic latex out of guayule. Now its extraction of lipid components from seeds of perennial and woody hibiscus species by supercritical carbon dioxide. But I digress...

Enter the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Vegetables aren't satisfied with dominating every other aspect of modern life, now they're coming after the performing arts! I submit this video as evidence.

It's not animation, it's not (only) a joke, they really do make and play instruments out of vegetables - and they're remarkably good at it, if you ask me.

Just so you don't think I'm mocking the hard work of others...
If you really do want to read about the Purification of Hypoallergenic Latex from Guayule, visit this link. If the Extraction of Lipid Components from Seeds of Perennial and Woody Hibiscus species by Supercritical Carbon Dioxide is more your style, visit this link.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Takacs "hair-raising" in California

The Takacs Quartet gave what The Contra Costa Times (always loved the name of that paper) called a "hair-raising, devil-may-care" performance in UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall on Sunday. The quartet will play two of the pieces reviewed (the Haydn and Bartok) this coming Sunday, December 9 at Jordan Hall, and yes, there are still tickets remaining. Here's the Takacs review.

"Twisting and chatting the Ailey way"

Matthew Rushing

Jennifer Dunning's piece on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for last Sunday's New York Times, a conversation between Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing and the company's artistic director Judith Jamison, gave a brief, intimate glimpse into the life of the company and it's people. Here's a snippet:

"Mr. Rushing, sporting an off-season beard, came prepared, carrying a notebook
full of questions. But he would prefer, he said, to have a conversation. Ms.
Jamison obliged. 'I wish you could keep that sexy beard, honey,' she told him,
adding that Ailey tradition required that it be shaved off by performance time.
“Alvin really didn’t like beards and stuff like that. But it’s fabulous.'"

Read all of Twisting and chatting the Ailey way.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visits Boston February 7-10.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ailey company announces February program

Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

It's here! The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has announced the programs for its February 7-10 Celebrity Series of Boston engagement at the Wang Theatre (ahem, experienced Ailey fans will note that the engagement is not in April this season). Among the works featured are the late Maurice Bejart's Firebird, the Boston premiere of Alvin Ailey's Flowers (and you thought Boston had seen all of Mr. Ailey's work over the last 37 years...), Tally Beatty's The Road of the Phoebe Snow, Robert Battle's Unfold, and Fredrick Earl Mosley's Saddle UP!. Check out all the programs here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Firebird soars on Ailey troupe's wings"

Well, the reviews have begun to roll in from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's annual run at Manhattan's City Center.Today's entry is from the Newark Star-Ledger, where Robert Johnson explains the that Alvin Ailey and Firebird choreographer Maurice Bejart, though not commonly associated with each other, share a populist inspiration at their core. Read Firebird soars on Ailey troupe's wings.

The Ailey company, performing - among many other things - Maurice Bejart's Firebird, visits Boston and the Celebrity Series February 7-10.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maria Schneider Orchestra reviewed on Visionsong blog

Here's a personal blog review of our Maria Schneider Orchestra concert on a blog called Visionsong. It didn't show up in any of my blog searches, I just stumbled across it exploring blogland.. Wonder what else I've been missing.

On a related note, Steve Schwartz of WGBH (host of Jazz From Studio 4) tells me that the pianist from Maria's band, Frank Kimbrough, will be back in Boston on January 22 for a live broadcast performance at 9:00 p.m. on WGBH 89.7 FM.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Globe: "Taylor troupe delivers sharp,vibrant program"


Thea Singer reviewed last night's opening performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Here's a sampling of her review:

"Paul Taylor may be the most ambidextrous of all choreographers. After 50-plus years of dance making, he continues to craft pieces that can just as soon make your heart sing as make darkness visible - or, in turn, have you fairly bust a gut laughing."

Read all of Taylor troupe delivers sharp, vibrant program

Want tickets? We got 'em! Visit us here.

EXTRA: Here is EDGEBoston's review of the Paul Taylor Dance Company's Celebrity Series engagement.