Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ailey Barbie


Yes, she is real. No she will not be dancing at The Opera House. I'm not sure she's old enough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Alan Helms on Lar Lubovitch and Co.

A late arrival to Aisle Be Seeing You is Alan Helms' review of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company from Bay Windows. The tardiness of this posting is no reflection on Alan, it's more a reflection of my holiday muddled head. Here's a bit:

"Placed in historical context, Lar Lubovitch presents an interesting case. For
two hundred years Western dance was exclusively narrative, and then Balanchine
appeared on the scene. Though Balanchine occasionally created story ballets
(notably Nutcracker and
Don Quixote), his works were largely
abstract, and with the slow, stubborn persistence of the genius that he was, he
gradually created the audience he needed to appreciate his radically new work.
Ever since, most choreographers have either specialized in dance that tells a
story or dance that is basically about movement, which is to say dance about

Read all of Bon Anniversaire.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Art? a joke? a face?

How long can you watch . . . this.

I may now have proof that I no longer live in the world in which I grew up.

Globe and EDGEBoston review Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Two reviews of the Lubovitch Company's performances this past weekend have appeared to date.

Thea Singer, Boston Globe

Kilian Melloy, EDGEBoston

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, "Concerto Six Twenty-Two," 12/12/08


Celebrity Series December/January box office hours of operation


Below are our box office hours through December and January:

Monday, December 22 - OPEN 10am to 4pm

Tuesday, December 23 - OPEN 10am to 4pm

Wednesday, December 24 - CLOSED

Thursday, December 25 - CLOSED

Friday, December 26 - CLOSED

Monday, December 29 - OPEN 10am to 4pm

Tuesday, December 30 - OPEN 10am to 4pm

Wednesday, December 31 - OPEN 10am to 2pm* (*Note early closing)

Thursday, January 1 - CLOSED

Friday, January 2 - CLOSED

Monday, January 19 - CLOSED

Regular box office hours of 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday ongoing from January 5, 2009 (except January 19 as above).

These hours of operation apply to the CelebrityCharge line - (617) 482-6661 - and all subscriber business. Tickets and information will be available on our web site anytime throughout December and January. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Deborah Jowitt talks to Alvin Ailey (in a daydream)


"Our own building?"

Dance critic Deborah Jowitt wrote about the ongoing Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater anniversary season in yesterday's Village Voice. Here is a sample:

"Here’s my daydream. I’m walking along 8th Street and meet
the ghost of Alvin Ailey. He looks gorgeous—just the way he did when I
ran into him over 30 years ago in the same place. “Alvin,” I say, “did
you know that on the opening night of your company’s 50th
anniversary season—in honor of it—the top part of the Empire State
Building was bathed in gold light?” He looks astounded, thinks I’m
kidding (the dance grapevine must not work well where he is). “And,” I
add, “they’ve created a special Alvin Ailey Barbie® doll; she’s posed
in her box as if she’s doing those upflung leaps in
Revelations’ ‘Take Me to the Water’ section, and she’s wearing the correct, flouncy white dress for it.” He falls on the pavement laughing. But you know what? He’s thrilled."

But, Deborah, you left out possibly the most astounding development of all, "Did you know the company now has it's own building? In Manhattan (and I don't mean Manhattan, Kansas) no less?"

My guess is that Ailey would be gratified that his company is surviving, surprised that it thriving, and astounded that it is, essentially, the most successful dance company in the world. But I guess that's Ms. Jowitt's point. Read: Lights Up! Alvin Ailey's Gang Turns 50.

When does the whole feelgood juggernaut roll into Boston's stately domain, you ask? April 28-May 3 at The Opera House.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Golden Dragon Acrobats return (yep, even the chair guy)

In case you missed them last time they visited (there might be a couple of you out there), Golden Dragon Acrobats are returning to Symphony Hall on Sunday, February 8. And yes, the chair guy will be in the show again (of course he will!).

Emerson String Quartet reviewed

To date two reviews of Friday evening's concert by the Emerson String Quartet have seen the light of day. In no particular order, David Weininger, a critic linked to frequently in this blog, reviewed for the Boston Globe. Read Approaching Dvorak on Their Terms. You can read MIT's Joyce Kwan on the concert on the web site of The Tech: Always Skillful, Often Breathtaking.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ailey Update: Hope Boykin's 'Go in Grace' gets premiere


Go in Grace was premiered Friday night

Ailey dancer Hope Boykin's new work, Go In Grace, had its premiere performance on Friday night. The piece features the venerable a capella singing group Sweet Honey In The Rock. As photographer Andrea Mohin's shot, which accompanies Alastair Macaulay's New York Times review, attests, the members of Sweet Honey In The Rock are not hidden in an orchestra pit during the piece, but are front and center (that's Ailey dancer Rosalyn Deshauteurs in the foreground).

Read A Simple Story With a Complicated Greek Chorus.

Boston gets to see Go in Grace (and all the other Ailey offerings) at The Opera House on April 28.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ailey Gala - And What a Gala! - Kicks Off City Center Run


Linda Celeste Sims danced an excerpt from "Cry"

It was officially Alvin Ailey Day in New York City yesterday. A celebration of a truly remarkable legacy and an ongoing success story, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th Anniversary Gala got the ball rolling on what promises to be a memorable City Center engagement in New York and an equally memorable tour. The gala had it all: moving tributes to Ailey himself, a sampling of great dance with live music, Jessye Norman singing Fix Me Jesus, even OPRAH was on hand. It doesn't get any better or any more deserved.

Read Alastair Macaulay's review in today's New York Times: One Foot in the Present Season, One Foot in the Past.

The only problem I have is that we have to wait until April 28 for it to come to Boston. It will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Harwich piano seen and heard: the (silly) mystery continues

Here by perhaps slightly less than popular demand is the latest on the Harwich piano saga (previous post). I'm not sure what else anyone wants to know about this except, of course HOW DID IT HAPPEN, but here is the piano captured on video and actually "played." I promise you, except for an announcement that the mystery is solved, this will be the last post on the tragic and mysterious tale of the Harwich piano.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Video: Lar Lubovitch, First Choreography, 1962

Lubovitch brings his Lar Lubovitch Dance Company to Boston's Tsai Performance Center and the Celebrity Series December 12 & 13.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Gearing up for City Center Run


Alvin Ailey in 1955

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater opens its annual run at City Center in New York this Wednesday and continues through January 4. This being the company's 50th anniversary season things will be a little different. Grander. There have already been quite a number of related events and products launched in 2008. How does a set of Ailey Hallmark Cards, a Calendar, and an limited edition commemorative Movado watch and a - wait for it - Ailey Barbie Doll, sound? Well, the party is just getting started.

There was a bit of reminiscence around Mr. Ailey from The New York Times yesterday. Here is a sample:

"GARTH FAGAN, choreographer:

One of the quintessential moments of my whole life was a night at his apartment with Alvin and Romare Bearden. They were telling me about the wonders of being a successful artist of color. We were having drinks, which helped the discussion. When I formed my company, Alvin supported me, financially and emotionally, from the start.

When he was very ill, we had a Joyce season going on, and I went to see him. I said: “Alvin Ailey, you will do anything not to come and see my show. Get out of bed!” We laughed like anything. He was a most gracious man."

Read Remembering Alvin Ailey.

The party comes to Boston April 28 to May 3 at The Opera House.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Piano found in Harwich woods

"Don't know it, Sarge, but maybe you could hum a few bars, over..."

The windswept shores of Cape Cod can be a less than hospitable environment this time of year, no less so for the Baldwin piano left in the woods of the bucolic - but now quite cold - town of Harwich, Mass., last Saturday. A Baldwin piano in "perfect working condition" (though, I'm guessing, a trifle out of tune) with a matching bench was found set up as if to play in the conservation area of Bells Neck (see photo above). No word as to whether the piano had been rained on or become a home for wildlife.

Judging from the photo the instrument is clearly a spinet - an Acrosonic, perhaps? They are the workhorse of the Baldwin line, you know.

Read the full article from The Cape Cod Times: Police seek clues in piano mystery.

UPDATE: See and hear the mysterious Harwich piano

Dresden Staatskapelle concert reviewed by Globe

The Boston Globe's David Weininger reviewed Wednesday's Celebrity Series performance by the Dresden Staatskapelle with conductor Fabio Luisi and piano soloist Rudolf Buchbinder.

Read Dresden orchestra takes note of the past.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dresden Staatskapelle encore


The encore played November 19 at Symphony Hall by the Dresden Staatskapelle was Overture to Oberon by Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber.

Boston through a visitor's eyes: Dresden Staatskapelle's photo gallery


Member of Dresden Staatskapelle cuts up with Uncle Sam

Photographer Matthias Creutziger has been taking pictures for the Dresden Staatskapelle throughout their US tour. He has posted photo galleries for all of the cities visited online and offered us access to the images for Boston. Check out the Boston gallery.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder recorded at WGBH studios today


Recording engineer Antonio Oliart, host Cathy Fuller and Alan McLellan of WGBH radio study the score as pianist Rudolf Buchbinder (background) records Beethoven's Sonata No. 8. The recording will be aired on December 30. Buchbinder performs Beethoven's Concerto No. 1 tonight (November 19) for the Celebrity Series of Boston at Symphony Hall with the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Note to students: rush tickets available tonight


Conductor Fabio Luisi

Student rush tickets will be available for tonight's Celebrity Series concert by the Dresden Staatskapelle, conductor Fabio Luisi and piano soloist Rudolf Buchbinder. Student rush sales begin at 5:00pm and end at 7:00pm at the Symphony Hall box office.

Student rush details

Concert details

Eichler reviews Bartok concert for Globe

Boston Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler reviewed Sunday afternoon's performance by the Takács Quartet with the Hungarian folk music ensemble Muzsikás and vocalist Márta Sebestyén for today's edition. Read Bartok's music meets its muse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congatulations, Dustin! Most Valuable: Pedroia

Dresden Staatskapelle under Luisi reviewed in Chicago

Conductor Fabio Luisi in action

The Dresden Staatskapelle, conducted by Fabio Luisi with piano soloist Rudolf Buchbinder will perform for the Celebrity Series in Boston tomorrow night (November 19). The Symphony Hall concert will feature Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Brahms' Symphony No. 4. Good seats are still available and student rush tickets will be sold prior to the performance.

The Staatskapelle received two reviews in Chicago's daily papers. First, today's Chicago Sun-Times weighed in. Here is a taste:

"I did hesitate a bit in the middle movements of the 1885 Brahms Fourth
Symphony in E minor. Op. 98, wondering if Luisi was getting too cerebral, but
when he took apart and put back together the great closing movement passacaglia
before our eyes and ears, he had won me and the audience over to his ideas.

And this is Luisi's most important gift: In addition to his technical
abilities, his tremendous focus and his palpable energy (his players are on the
edges of their seats much of the time), he has
ideas about the music he
plays -- not eccentric, but deep ones. And whether he is presenting a narrative
(as with Strauss) or showing us how Brahms solved a musical problem, he conveys
a wonderful mixture of thought and art."

Read all of Staatskapelle in a class by itself with Strauss' 'Don Juan' tone poem.

The Chicago Tribune review: At 460, Dresden orchestra looks to its rich past.

I do love that headline, "At 460..." That's a lot of candles to put on a cake.

Gergiev conducts Kirov in Prokofiev opera; soon, Boston with the London


Conductor Valery Gergiev

Maestro Valery Gergiev conducted the Kirov Orchestra and Chorus of the Maryinsky Theater on Sunday in a concert performance of Prokofiev's opera, Love for Three Oranges; The New York Times review appeared today: A Brisk Prokofiev Comedy, Without Opera Heroics.

Gergiev conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with piano soloist Alexei Volodin at Boston's Symphony Hall March 25 in a program of Beethoven's "Emporer" Concerto and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 for the Celebrity Series of Boston (who else?).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mobile blogging backstage at Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great?

Between soundcheck and performance, Boston Musica Viva bassist Carolyn Davis Fryer stays warmed up - November 15, 2008. More to come on this front as I learn just exactly how to do this . . .


Friday, November 14, 2008

Boston City Hall is #1 on ugly building list

While it's nice to be recognized, this . . . isn't what you want. Boston City Hall made #1 on Virtual's ugly building list.

Kind of makes me want to defend the ol' slab o' concrete.

Rob Kapilow on NPR's Weekend Edition and at Jordan Hall

This just in from Rob Kapilow's crack media team:

"Tomorrow morning (Saturday, November 15), tune in to NPR’s Weekend
Edition* to hear Rob Kapilow, in discussion with Susan Stamberg,
talking about one of the most famous songs to come out of America’s Great
Depression: “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, written by Jay Gorney with lyrics
by Yip Harburg.

And in a few weeks’ time, on December 23, Rob can be heard
on American Public Media’s
Performance Today* discussing Handel’s
Hallelujah Chorus – and just what makes that perennial holiday favorite so
great …

* check local listings for broadcast times"

You can hear and see Rob in the flesh tomorrow evening at NEC's Jordan Hall, where he will be plumming the depths (plumming the heights?) of J.S. Bach's Double Concerto for Two Violins. Joining him will be Boston Musica Viva and violinists Jennifer Frautschi and Chee Yun.

Did I mention student rush tickets are available at the Jordan Hall box office? Um, they are.

Globe preview of Takacs/Muzsikas performance: Bartok's roots music


Muzsikás with vocalist Márta Sebestyén

David Weininger wrote about this Sunday's unique Bartók program at Jordan Hall featuring the Takács Quartet, the Hungarian folk music ensemble Muzsikás and vocalist Márta Sebestyén. The Celebrity Series has done a lot of interesting programs with the Takacs, but none more interesting than this one. Here's a bit to whet your appetite:

"Not only do these joint concerts provide the Takács with a way to
delve into Bartók's roots; Dusinberre says that their presence affects
the whole concert experience, especially in the Fourth Quartet. 'I'm a
bit jealous of those guys on stage, because they don't have music in
front of them, they're standing up. They're very fluid and vital in the
way they communicate with each other. So our challenge during that
program is very much to feed off their vitality and energy.

course we have energy of our own,' he continues, 'but I think we're
inspired to take more risks and play more on the edge than we might do
in a usual concert. It helps us to play with more abandon and just kind
of let our hair down.'"

Read all of Back to Bartok's musical roots.

Advance student rush tickets are available for this performance, by the way. You can get them at the Jordan Hall box office while they last.

And here is a link for the program notes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Márta Sebestyén performing with Muzsikás: Hungarian hoedown

Vocalist Márta Sebestyén performing with Muzsikás. All I can say is Bela Bartók knew a good groove when he heard one.

Both Sebestyén and Muzsikás will join the Takacs Quartet this Sunday, November 16 at Jordan Hall.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gerald Arpino, 1923-2008


Apologies for the delay, but I wanted to be sure and note the passing of Gerald Arpino, co-founder, dancer, chief choreographer and Associate Director of the Joffrey Ballet, who passed away on October 29. The Celebrity Series presented The Joffrey Ballet 3 times - in 1977, '79 and '82 - during Arpino's tenure as Associate Director.

Chicago Tribune

BBC News

Staten Island News

Chicago Public Radio

Friday, November 7, 2008

The lowly stick now in Toy Hall of Fame


It occurs me that I am playing right into the hands of some PR flack at the National Toy Museum (or somewhere) and you have probably already seen this somewhere else by now, but this item appeals to my sense of the ridiculous. The National Toy Hall of Fame has selected "the stick" for entry into its hallowed halls. Here is the story from the Associated Press.

Marsalis, Bostridge and Hocker, some links of note

1. Jazz trumpeter (that really doesn't cover his significance in my view, but I'll go with it) Wynton Marsalis and educator Davey Yarborough of Washington D.C.'s Duke Ellington School for the Arts talked with CNN about jazz education: Changing kids' lives through jazz. The Celebrity Series brings Wynton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Boston on March 15 at Symphony Hall.

2. Tenor Ian Bostridge (making his Celebrity Series debut April 3) has written a piece for The Times (UK) on the letters of composer Benjamin Britten. The article begins with this line from Britten:

"O dear, o dear, how I sometimes wish I were respectable & dead, & that
people wouldn’t get so cross."

Read all of The Court of Benjamin Britten.

3. Apparently, the El Paso Golf Club in Kappa, Illinois is getting a bit cross with young Curt Hocker, the twenty-two year-old golfer who has achieved golf's near impossible hole-in-one at his local course, not once, not twice, but five times.

The problem comes with the "hole-in-one insurance" his club membership affords him; instead of honoring the tradition that the lucky golfer buys a round of drinks for the entire clubhouse, the El Paso Golf Club picks up the tab per his membership agreement - each and every time. Five rounds and counting. Here is the story from Fox Sports. It's a pity to think of a life peaking so early.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wall Street Journal profiles violinist Christian Tetzlaff

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff will give a duo performance with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes on January 31. The performance will mark only his second appearance on the Celebrity Series, but his performances with Andsnes are only a part of his busy U.S. concert season. David Mermelstein has written a profile on Tetzlaff covering his various projects:

"Over the years, Mr. Tetzlaff has adopted a less-is-more philosophy
concerning his artistry, refining his playing, which was always lean,
to that which is elemental. Speaking of the last time he and Mr.
Andsnes performed Schubert's 'Rondo Brillant,' which they will revisit
on this tour for the first time in 15 years, he recalled: 'Everything
seemed much more complicated back then.'"

Read all of Portrait of the Violinist as a Very Serious Musician.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jeremy Eichler reviews the Tokyo String Quartet


Tokyo String Quartet

Jeremy Eichler reviewed last Saturday evening's performance at Jordan Hall of the Tokyo String Quartet for today's Boston Globe:

"With every personnel change, a quartet dies and is reborn under the
same name. In this case, the sheer intensity and excitement that the
Oundjian-era super group used to project is irretrievably gone. But
this current configuration has charms of its own, and it has finally
achieved an important degree of continuity with the earlier sound. Yes,
we're a different foursome, Saturday's recital seemed to say, but we're
still the Tokyo String Quartet."

Read all of: After musical chairs, a quartet remembers its essence.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Renee Fleming in WNO's "Lucrezia Borgia"

Renée Fleming and Vittorio Grigolo, in
the Washington National Opera's
Lucrezia Borgia

Soprano Renee Fleming will give her fourth Celebrity Series recital at Symphony Hall on April 19. At the moment, Ms. Fleming is performing the title role of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at the Washington National Opera, with no less than Placido Domingo conducting. Opera gossip junkies may remember that Lucrezia Borgia was the role in which ten years ago Ms. Fleming was said to have been booed at Milan's La Scala. New York Times critic, Anthony Tommasini, sets the record straight on this tiny historical tidbit, then goes on to review the performance: In a Man's World, Poison Is Her Best Revenge.

Other reviews of the production:

Washington Post (Anne Midgette)

Washington Times

Lar Lubovitch interviewed by Time Out New York


Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in Little Rhapsodies

The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company brings its 40th Anniversary Tour to Boston December 12 & 13 (it is also the company's Celebrity Series debut). Gia Kourlas interviewed choreographer Lar Lubovitch for this week's Time Out New York. In this snippet, Lubovitch talks about his work, Jangle, which is on the Boston program:

"[TONY:] Talk about the new work, Jangle.

{LUBOVITCH:] It’s to Bartok, and it’s subtitled “Four Hungarian Dances.” It is about a way of dancing, described by Bartok’s music, and it’s very Slavic; he often quotes folk tunes and gypsy melodies. Bartok’s music reaches a very wide range but there’s an area of it that’s very evocative of Slavic folk dance, and more than anything that’s really what this dance seeks to do: to paint an image of Bartok’s Slavic dance-inspired music. What the costume designer and I discussed was having these people look like they were walking down a street in Budapest in about 1936, and that there were street musicians on a corner, and that they spontaneously danced as a crowd gathered and were drawn into a unplanned street party."

There is quite a bit more of this interview available here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dave McKenna, 1930-2008

My favorite tribute to Dave McKenna came during the Red Sox ALCS run when radio announcer Joe Castiglione took time on-air to say a few words about the passing of one of Boston's great, largely unsung talents, who also happened to be a lifelong Red Sox fan. A fitting tribute to someone who, during baseball season, often kept a radio sitting on his piano quietly tuned to the Red Sox game. McKenna was a Boston institution, modest to a fault about his skills, encyclopedic in his knowledge of the American Songbook, and always swinging.

The Celebrity Series never presented McKenna, but we didn't have to - Dave was always playing at the Copley Plaza; or so it seemed.

Here are some of the obituaries and tributes to McKenna:

Boston Globe

Boston Herald

New York Times

Cape Cod Times

Los Angeles Times

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toyko String Quartet program change

There has been a change to this Saturday evening's Tokyo String Quartet program. The Bartók String Quartet No. 5 will be replaced by:

Beethoven, String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Opus 18, no. 2

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian in the news

Here is a collection of reviews, previews and CD reviews
from soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian's Remembrance Tour (including Boston, of
course) and new CD,
Gomidas Songs. If you missed her recital this past Sunday, well, you really missed something unique and wonderful (the CD is your last shot to get hip):

Reviews of Isabel Bayrakdarian's current recital tour

Boston Globe (Joel Brown), October 20:
Memorable Armenian folk songs carry the day

The New York Times (Steve Smith), October 21:
Summoning the Songs of Voices Stilled

Toronto Star (John Terauds), October 20:
Great talents, great music but something was missing

Toronto Star Letter to the Editor in response to above
Concert a testament to survival

Los Angeles Times (Richard S. Ginell), October 6:
Review: Isabel Bayrakdarian and the Manitoba Chamber

OC Register (Timothy Mangan), October 7:
Soprano remembers genocide in song

Vancouver Sun (Lloyd Dykk), October 7:
Review: Isabel Bayrakdarian with the Manitoba Chamber
Orchestra at the Orpheum

San Francisco Chronicle (Joshua Kosman), October 6:
Music review: Isabel Bayrakdarian at Herbst

Previews from tour cities

Boston Globe (David Weininger), October 17:
Armenian tribute comes from her soul

The New York Times (Melanie Toumani), October 17:
Songs Lifted in Praise of an Armenian Hero

The Vancouver Province (Stuart Derdeyn), October 7:
It's Isabel's labour of love

Reviews of Gomidas Songs CD

Newark Star-Ledger (Bradley Bambarger), October 6

San Francisco Chronicle (Joshua Kosman), September 28

Ottawa Citizen (Richard Todd), September 27

As for my two cents (you couldn't leave this post without that, surely), Bayrakdarian's concert and her new CD, Gomidas Songs, were/are like listening to ghosts and
perhaps a bit like peering into an alternate version of the present in which
Gomidas, and by extension, the Armenian musical tradition, was able to carve out a
more prominent place for itself in the musical canon. Perhaps this music would
not seem so exotic or so unusual if not for the Armenian Genocide and diaspora. Even though this music is being performed and recorded, it is not prominent. Somehow, it is the sound of what might have been. A fact which, for me, magnifies its poignancy.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Isabel Bayrakdarian sings Dle Yaman, from "A Long Journey Home"

Another haunting work from Gomidas, sung beautifully by Bayrakdarian. This piece will be on this Sunday's program (October 19) with Hampic Djabourian on duduk:

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian's Globe interview


Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian hails from Canada but is of Armenian descent. The documentary A Long Journey Home chronicles her first visit to Armenia and became the springboard for her new CD and current tour (coming to Jordan Hall this Sunday), focusing (though not exclusively) on the music of Armenian composer Gomidas Vartabed (see earlier post). The Boston Globe's David Weininger spoke with Bayrakdarian for his article in today's edition. Here's a snippet:

"Bayrakdarian, who lives in Toronto, was born in Lebanon to parents
of Armenian heritage, and grew up singing many of the songs on the
recording. Most opera roles require a singer to step inside a
character; here, the identification is deep and immediate.

one is quite, quite special,' she says by phone from California. 'Other
[projects] come from my heart. When I sing these songs, it just comes
from my soul.'"

Read all of Armenian tribute comes from her soul.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Batting stance levity

I can think of about 20 reasons why we can all use a little levity at the moment. Red Sox batting stances through the ages . . .

Friday, October 10, 2008

Isabel Bayrakdarian: Andooni/Without a Home

Yes, this song is on Bayrakdarian's October 19 program. It was written by Armenian composer, singer, ethnomusicologist, choir conductor, and pedagogue, Gomidas Vartabed, who was arrested and deported during the early stages of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau arranged for Gomidas to return to Armenia, where he discovered that he had lost everything - friends, students, and most of his life's work. Gomidas was overcome with anguish, never composed again and ended his life in a mental institution.

I don't know about you, but this performance leaves me absolutely speechless. I will post more of Bayrakdarian's and Gomidas' work in video form if I can find it.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fleisher wins Hub fans renewed

Before Leon Fleisher launched into the familiar melody of J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze" (from Cantata No. 208 he turned to the audience and announced that the work he was about to play was what he termed "one of those triple-A pieces, an anthem for anti-acrimony." A perfect introduction as everyone's knowing laugh confirmed. It didn't matter what Mr. Fleisher was referring to exactly, if anything; we were about to hear the sound of tranquility.

The evening was a warm meeting of old and newer friends and colleagues, with Fleisher leading the way (the program and guests can be found here). If you weren't present to hear Fleisher continue to make up for lost time as a two-handed pianist, you can take comfort in the likelihood that his joy in being physically able to make music with both hands again will surely drive him to the stage with some frequency. Set up a Google Alert, or something similar, so you don't get left out next time. You owe it to yourself.

Kevin Lowenthal reviewed the performance for The Boston Globe.

Thomas Garvey reviewed the performance for The Hub Review.


Caldwell Titcomb reviewed for The Fuse.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Rob Kapilow podcast on WNYC


Composer, conductor and author Rob Kapilow made an appearance yesterday on WNYC's Soundcheck. He talked about gymnastics, Bela Bartok, musical rivalries, Beethoven in a cutting contest, and his new book, All You Have to Do is Listen.

Listen to: First Impressions Are Everything from Soundcheck on WNYC.

As you may know, Rob is a regular visitor to Boston and the Celebrity Series of Boston.

Notes: Fleisher, Biss and El Caballito

Leon Fleisher will be honored tonight at Jordan Hall (along with our founder, Aaron Richmond). He will also honor us with his playing (here's the Herald's advance take). We're told that it is likely that his former students will gather on stage for the duration in stage seats. For me, this conjures images of the extended family gathering 'round the piano to sing Tin Pan Alley tunes in Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters. "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" crooned, with warm feelings all around. Well, how about a considerably less dysfunctional group gathered 'round the piano? And of course they won't be singing Rodgers and Hart tunes unless they have a most unusual encore up their collective sleeve. All right, so my little fantasy doesn't hang together, but you may be guaranteed one thing: at some point, Leon Fleisher's musicianship will get to you. You will not come away unaffected. You do have tickets, don't you?

Elsewhere, on his way to play for us in Boston, Jonathan Biss knocked 'em out at the Bangor Symphony Orchestra (I couldn't resist) concert this past Sunday. Read the review in The Ellsworth American.

Best of luck to El Caballito (?!), and the rest of the Red Sox tonight in Anaheim.

Friday, September 26, 2008

MacArthur Fellows in our midst

For the slightly geeky, the announcement of the annual list of MacArthur Fellows (aka the Genuis Grant Recipients) is right up there with the annual list of college commencement speakers. Both groups are, generally speaking, and in my opinion, people who get a moment of fame that are truly deserving of the recognition (not that, say, Justin Timberlake, for example, isn't a genius in his own right. I'm sure he is :-)).

In any case,we at the Celebrity Series love nothing better than to bask in any sort of reflected glow. To that end, I feel I must reveal which of the recipients have had a presence of one kind or another on the Series (sorry, Geomorphologist David Montgomery is not one of them).

Lighting Designer Jennifer Tipton designed lighting as part of numerous Celebrity Series engagements, including 13 Paul Taylor Dance Company tours between 1969 and 2007, 4 tours by choreographer Twyla Tharp (one with Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov) and 1 tour with Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project (and those are just the one's I could verify). Her lighting has been featured on at least 18 separate engagements, usually as the sole lighting designer for every work performed on every performance. Whether they knew it or not, Celebrity Series audiences have seen quite a lot of Tipton's work over the years.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz has appeared twice on the Celebrity Series of Boston with Jaime Laredo and The Brandenburg Ensemble (1997 & 2000).

Saxophonist Miguel Zenon's Celebrity Series appearance came in 1998 during Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? series, when he performed with Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder and Timon of Athens with Boston's Either/Orchestra.

I know, I know. We keep good company.

Here's the complete list.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Angela Hewitt in The Guardian (UK)


Angela Hewitt

The's Alan Rusbridger interviewed pianist Angela Hewitt for last Friday's edition. Here's an excerpt:

"Angela Hewitt: . . . I learnt from books, from experience, not so much from pianists, I must say. I
listened to harpsichordists, to orchestras, to people like John Eliot Gardiner
and the early music crowd.

Alan Rusbridger: Why harpsichordists?

Angela Hewitt: Pianists often annoy me! A lot of them, I feel, don't
play it in a true Baroque style. I still listen to them of course. I still
listen to Edwin Fischer and admire the wonderful architecture he can build in a
fugue. Schiff also. I think in many ways his playing is the closest to mine. I
do think there's a way of playing Bach at the piano that is still stylistically
correct and that's what I'm looking for."

Read all of Taking Time with Bach.

Angela Hewitt performs for the first time in Boston on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at NEC's Jordan Hall.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Just another witchcraft scholar and tenor in recital


Tenor Ian Bostridge

I thought it was just a coincidence. Ian Bostridge the witchcraft scholar, whose Oxford Historic Monograph, Witchcraft and its Transformations, 1650 to 1750, can be purchased on could not be Ian Bostridge the tenor appearing this month in Mozart's Don Giovanni at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden (and on April 3 for the Celebrity Series with pianist Julius Drake), could it?

Well, shiver me timbers if it isn't the same fellow, a fact which is likely regarded as remarkable by both witchcraft scholars and operatic tenors alike. And did I mention that he routinely writes for The Guardian newspaper? What all of this really proves, in my estimation is that Mr. Bostridge is ridiculously, unconscionably talented and intelligent. Really, now, the exemplary diction and shockingly beautiful voice would have been enough . . .

Here is a sampling of Ian Bostridge-related links:


Schubert's Die Forelle with pianist Julius Drake (video)

Silent Noon from the English Songbook CD with Drake (video)

Is my Team Ploughing? from "On Wenlock Edge" with Bernard Haitink (video)

Villes from Britten's "Les Illuminations" (video)


Bostridge's post on The Guardian's Music Blog: "Happy Birthday Barbican"

Bostridge on Benjamin Britten's Death In Venice in The Guardian

Bostridge on Handel in The Guardian

Ian Bostridge on the web:

Ian Bostridge's MySpace page

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Abridgments to nowhere (in particular)

Pianist Leon Fleisher opened the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota's season this past Sunday. Read the Minneapolis Star-Tribune review. Apparently this Fleisher fellow has something to say... We'll get a chance to hear this giant of the piano on October 3 with a group of his amazingly accomplished former students.

Pianist Lang Lang has written two new books (one for adults, one for younger folks). We will see Lang Lang at Symphony Hall in March. He will be playing the piano, not giving a reading...

You've been waiting patiently, now here it is, the Lilly Pulitzer piano.

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian released her most recent CD, Tango Notturno, back in March (for some reason I'm just getting around to mentioning it now). You can buy the CD here. You can buy tickets to her October 19 concert (a tribute to Armenian composer Gomidas) with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra here.

T-shirt of the day: "Nature Rocks." I would have thought nature swings or plays a nice symbiotic minuet, but maybe that's why I don't make t-shirts for a living.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hilary Hahn's Schoenberg video birthday sleepover tribute channel

"Well, Mr. Schoenberg, make a wish"

Violinist Hilary Hahn, inspired by a group of youngsters who attended one of her concerts as part of a sleepover, has created a video tribute channel on YouTube in honor of the composer's 134th birthday (134th? Hahn didn't want to be too "symmetrical" with her dates).

Here is the video channel she created. It launched this past Saturday.

Here is Hilary's explanation of the project.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ailey dancer forced to dance by Israeli security


Abdur-Rahim Jackson

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, was detained by Israeli security on Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport where the company was making the first stop of their international tour. Jackson was questioned repeatedly about his name and was twice made to dance to prove his assertion that he was a member of the Ailey company.

Read more about the incident via The Associated Press, BBC News, Israel's YNetnews, or the New York Daily News.

Jackson has danced numerous times as part of Celebrity Series of Boston engagements of the Ailey company and has participated in the Celebrity Series Artist Residencies program. Barring further detentions, he will perform with the company during its 7-performance run at Boston's Opera House, April 28 - May3 (We don't expect any problems at Logan Airport).

Jazz @ Lincoln Center's new director profiled in NY Times

Adrian Ellis was first hired by Jazz at Lincoln Center as a management consultant to help them manage their explosive growth, now he's running the organization's administrative side. Robin Pogrebin's New York Times article on Ellis and the state of J@LC ran in the Sunday edition, you can view it here.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis returns to the Celebrity Series on Sunday, March 15 at Symphony Hall.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Buy Celebrity Series tix from Celebrity Series!


Celebrity Series of Boston . . . accept no substitutes

Hello, readers,

I have a warning for those of you interested in purchasing Celebrity Series performances for the 2008-2009 season. Online searches for many of our performances will turn up numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) online vendors promising tickets for performances presented by Celebrity Series of Boston in 2008-2009. The difference between them and us is is that these vendors are not the presenting organization, we are. These vendors are ticket resellers asking considerably more money for their tickets to our events than we ask.

Ticket resellers have operated in our midst for some time, reselling tickets to our more high-demand performances, but these online resellers are either charging very steep prices for tickets to shows which are not sold out (yet) or promising seats they do not actually have, and may never have (in some cases specific seats are listed for sale, and in some of those cases the seat locations listed do not exist in the venue at all!), or both. For example, some vendors have been "selling" our tickets online all summer, even before we seated our subscribers, months before we began selling single tickets.

The Celebrity Series is looking into all of this, but in the meantime, heed this recommendation: buy Celebrity Series tickets from the Celebrity Series of Boston via CelebrityCharge (617) 482-6661, online at, or from the venues where the performances will take place.

And by the way, single tickets for our entire season - thousands of seats - go on sale Monday morning at 9am.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in the saddle, and not a moment too soon

Hello, again, friends! I'm back from vacation, and like most of you my batteries are recharged, yet I still wish I was on vacation. I did not forget about you or this blog while on vacation. For example, while in New York's Finger Lakes Region, I diligently explored the performing arts scene, including noted venues like Trumansburg's Rongovian Embassy to the USA (see below).


Jordan Hall it ain't, but does Jordan Hall serve Tex Mex entrees and Yuengling beer (yet)? Well, all right, then.

In any case, things are getting underway here (by things, I mean, of course, ticket sales). This coming Monday, September 8 is the big day (second only to the launch of the subscription season in the Spring) when the general public gets its first shot at thousands of seats in venues all over Boston for over 60 performers (but who's counting?). You'll be able to buy tickets by phone: CelebrityCharge: (617) 482-6661, or online at

Our season begins on October 3 with a celebration of pianist Leon Fleisher's 80th birthday by Mr. Fleisher and an assemblage of several of his most accomplished former students.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Central Asian Grooves with Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble at the 2002 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Central Asia

I think it's undeniable that the first two minutes of this video swing; not in a completely conventional dotted-eighth sixteen-note sort of way, but give a listen and try not to move.

And while you're busy moving, remind yourself that The Silk Road Ensemble will be coming to Symphony Hall with Yo-Yo Ma for two performances each with a different program in March 2008-2009. Subscriptions are on sale now. Individual ticket sales begin September 8.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Because it's there


I usually prefer to dwell on the actual achievements of the notable, but I'll make an exception this time and dwell on one of the trappings of celebrity - celebrity grave markers (we have visited this topic before). So for no reason other than it was sent to me (and because, well, you don't see this every day), here is the Moscow grave site of Russian folk dance icon Igor Moiseyev.

Thanks, Janet!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beaux Arts Trio calls it quits after 53 years

The Beaux Arts Trio is wrapping up its 53 year run with its final concert. We presented the Trio's final Boston performance back in April. The final final concert will take place at Tanglewood next week.

David Weininger's piece in today's Globe profiles the Trio at its end and though the headline, Beaux Arts Trio to say goodbye to Tanglewood, implies this is only the group's final Tanglewood performance, it is indeed their final performance anywhere:

"Not every ensemble merits this question when its demise is in sight,
but this one undoubtedly does. The trio played its first concert at
Tanglewood in 1955, and it will play its final American concerts there
next week. In the intervening 53 years, it has taken its place as one
of the 20th century's foremost chamber-music groups, and has set a
standard for trio playing that will persist well after the group's end."

Read all of Beaux Arts Trio to say goodbye to Tanglewood.

A video is a virtual mockery of any chamber music performance, but I  would feel remiss if I didn't give you something  in the way of sound from the great Beaux Arts Trio. This video is the first movement from Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio performed in San Francisco's Herbst Theatre about two weeks after their final Celebrity Series performance:


David Weininger writes that the Beaux Arts' original plan to end at Tanglewood has been changed since they last visited Boston:

Thanks for noting the column on the Beaux Arts on the blog. You write there that the headline is misleading and that the Tanglewood shows will be "their final performance[s] anywhere." I think that was the original plan, at least back when they came through Boston in April. Apparently they reconsidered, though, because there are a number of dates scheduled in Europe after Tanglewood:

I believe their last concert is at the Lucerne Festival. If you go to the festival's calendar:

and click on September 6, you'll see a listing for the concert.

It all checks out, of course. Thanks, David!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday... Magic Johnson. He's 49 today.

Braindead Megaphone to get Sedaris' nod


George Saunders

Those of you who have seen author David Sedaris do readings know that he picks a favorite book to tout, rather passionately, on each tour, even going so far as to ensure it is offered for sale alongside his own work (those of you who have never been to a Sedaris reading, well now you know).

This season's recommended book is The Braindead Megaphone, by George Saunders. For the impossibly up to date who must own this book before Sedaris comes to Boston in October, here's a link where you can buy The Braindead Megaphone. And here's George's web site.

Turns out, Mr. Saunders teaches at Syracuse University, which gives us all another reason to recommend beautiful Syracuse, New York, besides Dinosaur BBQ, The Orangemen, the swell locals, the fine sledding, and SU's now extra-huge record collection.

Monday, August 11, 2008

AileyCamp Final Performance slide show

The Celebrity Series celebrated its 9th annual AileyCamp Boston Final Performance last Thursday at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University. Here is Flash slide show from last Thursday's rehearsals and performance:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yogi Berra, meet Eugene Ormandy

In his autobiography, Perfect Pitch, Nicolas Slonimsky passes along this compendium of conductor Eugene Ormandy's mangled syntax and meaning collected from rehearsals of the Philadelphia Orchestra by an orchestra member. I mean no disrespect to the great conductor, it simply wouldn't be as funny if it were someone of lesser stature:

"[Ormandy] spoke English with considerable mobility, but for some reason lapsed at rehearsals into a lingua franca - sans syntax, sans grammar, sans sense. A disloyal member of the Philadelphia orchestra collected a priceless anthology of Ormandian sayings:

'It is not together, but the ensemble is perfect.'

'Suddenly I was in the right tempo, but it wasn't.'

'This is one bar you should take home.'

'There is a number missing, I can see it.'

'Please follow me because I have to follow him and he isn't here.'

'I need one more bass less.'

'I don't want to confuse you more than absolutely necessary.'

'We can't hear to balance it yet because the soloist is still on the aeroplane.'

'Something went wrong. It was correct when I studied it.'

'Who is sitting in that empty chair?'

'He is a wonderful man, and so is his wife.'

'I told him he would have a heart attack a year ago but unfortunately he lived a year longer.'

'It's difficult to remember if the notes are right, but if I listened they would be wrong.'

'The moment you slow down you are behind.'

'The tempo remains pianissimo.'

'The soloist was so sick he almost died for three days.'

'I don't mean to make you nervous, but unfortunately I have to.'

'Even when you are not playing you are holding me back.'

'If you don't have it in your part leave it out because there is enough missing already.'

'Thank you for your cooperation, and vice versa.'

On another Slonimsky note, check out the images of signatures from his guestbook here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Slonimsky in the Summertime


Nicolas Slonimsky

Like many blogs, Aisle Be Seeing You reflects the tastes, shortcomings and discoveries of its author. With your permission, gentle reader, I would like to introduce you to a recent discovery (the tastes and shortcomings are, surely, already on display). Among my summer reading selections is Perfect Pitch, the 1988 autobiography of the composer, conductor, musician, music critic, lexicographer and author Nicolas Slonimsky. I recommend it highly.

Slonimsky crossed paths with an astonishing number and variety of people from the music world and beyond, and is just the writer to do justice to the resulting anecdotes. He delivers stories of Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's widow (at a dinner party), Serge Koussevitsky, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Eugene Ormandy, George Eastman (of Eastman Kodak fame), Leonard Bernstein, Mike Wallace (as host of a TV game show), Edgard Varese and Frank Zappa (Slonimsky performed with Zappa in 1981 and named his cat Grody-to-the-Max, a nod to Moon Unit Zappa's Valley Girl lexicon), among many others.

Many know Slonimsky today for his work editing Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (which is named for Theodore Baker, its original editor, whose work was complimented, then eclipsed, by
Slonimsky over decades) or for his Lexicon of Musical Invective, which chronicles horrible reviews of famous musical works (more fun than it sounds). I had used Baker's for some time before I read its delightful (there's no other word for it) forward, written by Slonimsky. That discovery has lead me to Perfect Pitch.

If I haven't convinced you yet, here's a wee snippet from the book jacket:

"It was discovered early in my life that I possessed the precious gift of perfect pitch, which enabled me to name immediately and without fail any note played on the piano or other musical instruments. My maternal aunt, Isabelle Vengerova, later to become a famous piano teacher, took me under her wing, and on 6 November 1900, according to the old Russian calendar, gave me my first piano lesson. I was exhibited to admiring relatives and friends for whose pleasure I rendered the popular tune, 'Little Bird, What did you do? I drank vodka, So did you.'"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Soweto Gospel Choir's "African Spirit"

I'm a little late in getting the word out, but the Soweto Gospel Choir has released a new recording (new is a relative thing, it was released in 2007) called African Spirit. You can purchase African Spirit here.

For something a little out of the ordinary, here is the group's happy birthday message to Nelson Mandela on the South African President's 90th:

The Soweto Gospel Choir pays a visit to the Celebrity Series of Boston this coming November 30 at Symphony Hall. For tickets you can subscribe to the Celebrity Series now at or you can purchase individual tickets at the same URL after September 8.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yo-Yo live on WGBH radio


Hear Yo-Yo Ma perform amidst pastoral splendor at Tanglewood
(you'll be listening from wherever it is you hang out)

First ballot cello hall of famer, Yo-Yo Ma, performs with the Tanglewood Center Orchestra and conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto (son of renowned cellist and MIT-grad Miguel Prieto) at 2pm this Sunday, August 3. If you are among those of us who aren't going to be in Lenox this weekend you can listen on WGBH 89.7 FM or online at

Of course, Yo-Yo Ma will also be performing two separate, distinct, different, and really not at all the same programs on March 8 & 9 at Symphony Hall with The Silk Road Ensemble for the Celebrity Series of Boston. Check these shows out and more at

Judith Jamison on Charlie Rose


The great Judith Jamison, long time leader of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, spent some time with Charlie Rose back on July 3. She talked about her life and career and the vast preparations for the 50th  anniversary of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater:

Judith Jamison on Charlie Rose

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater celebrates its 50th anniversary in Boston from April 28 to May 3 at Boston's Opera House (the April 28 performance includes the a capella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock). Subscription tickets (3 or more events) are available now; individual tickets go on sale September 8: