Thursday, June 26, 2008

And the livin' is easy . . .

Dateline: June 26, 2008, Boston Massachusetts, The Athens of America

Summer is here (more or less). The long days . . . the warm nights . . . the blast of hot air entering the subway (or, if you prefer, the blast of cold air from your air conditioner as you idle in Cape traffic). Our many venues are empty and now that we aren't (for the moment) careening from one brilliant concert presentation to the next, things are theoretically moving a little slower here at Celebrity Series Towers. The list of possibilities as to how to spend all this idle time is seemingly endless . . .

One might meditate on the past season of memories and championships: Kiri Te Kanawa's Boston Farewell performance in October, Ben Heppner and Thomas Quasthoff's "Das Lied" Best-of-Six series with the Berlin Philharmonic, Sarah Vowell and David Rackoff's National Spoken Word finals triumph, Sir Neville Marriner's gutsy contributions off the bench for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, or Mark Morris' (Boston) conducting debut less than month ago . . .of course, some of us have been meditating all along.

In any case it's time to clean up our rooms, have a nice glass of lemonade in a lawn chair on the roof, have a nice glass of iced tea in a lawn chair on the roof, start that office whiffle ball tournament, spin straw into gold, take a little vacation time while we still can. I know you're wondering what you will do while I'm away,, but don't worry, I haven't forgotten you. Here are a few video appetizers in advance of our 2008-2009 season (Leon Fleisher Celebrates his 80th birthday with us in just 99 days!). Each link is followed by the artist's Celebrity Series performance date:

David Sedaris on Letterman (October 12, 2008, Symphony Hall)

Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian in Armenia (October 19, 2008, NEC's Jordan Hall)

Violinist Chee Yun plays Scherzo from Fritz Kreisler's Recitativo and Scherzo (Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? November 15, 2008, NEC's Jordan Hall)

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder at the Festiwal Ludwiga van Beethovena in Warsaw (Dresden Staatskapelle, November 19, 2008, Symphony Hall)

Soweto Gospel Choir (November 30, 2008, Symphony Hall)

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (December 12 & 13, 2008, Tsai Performance Center)

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (February 6-8, 2009, Cutler Majestic Theatre)

Golden Dragon Acrobats (February 8, 2009, Symphony Hall)

Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau plays "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (with Anne Sofie von Otter, February 13, 2009, Sanders Theatre)

The Chieftains (March 13, 2009, Symphony Hall)

Blind Boys of Alabama (with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, March 27, 2009, Symphony Hall)

Tenor Ian Bostridge sings Schubert (April 3, 2009, NEC's Jordan Hall)

Bernadette Peters sings "Not a Day Goes By" (April 4, 2009, Symphony Hall)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, excerpt from "Blues Suite" (April 28-May 3, 2009, Opera House)

There are many more performers appearing in 2008-2009, you can read about all of them (and lots of other swell stuff) here:

Bye for now . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

Angela Hewitt plays Bach

Pianist Angela Hewitt plays Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester (that would be Manchester, England, not New Hampshire). Ms. Hewitt makes her Celebrity Series debut on February 22:

Friday, June 20, 2008

David Sedaris on The Daily Show

David Sedaris returns to the Celebrity Series this coming October 12 at Symphony Hall ( Here is Sedaris promoting his latest book on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Leon Fleisher plays Ravel

Pianist Leon Fleisher plays Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with the Boston Symphony Orchestra:

Here's part 2 of the performance.

Mr. Fleisher is playing with two hands again (true for a few years now) and will celebrate his 80th birthday with a bevy of his most accomplished former students on October 3 at NEC's Jordan Hall to open our 2008-2009 season.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More curiosities from the archives

OK, so this is too old to be actual Celebrity Series history, but it's too fun to pass up. I came across this advertisement in an Aaron Richmond Presents program book for a Symphony Hall concert by the Russian Symphonic Choir from January 1926. The Abdon Laus listed in the ad was the first bassoonist and saxophone soloist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Ye Olde Town Orchestra). There is some speculation that Laus was the bassoonist at the premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring with the Ballets Russes in 1913. Cool, but who knew there was once a Boston Saxophone Orchestra? 50 saxophones?? A joyful noise, no doubt.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Globe reviews new Sedaris title

When You Are Engulfed in FlamesWEB

The Boston Globe's Chris Muther takes a look at the latest title from author/ humorist/ Half-Frenchman/ Half-Englishman David Sedaris, When You Are Engulfed in Flames:

"Much the way that Celine Dion will never run out of hot air or Middle
America will never lose its appetite for funnel cakes, so it seems that
David Sedaris will never lose his ability to recall the most minute
details of his curious North Carolina childhood."

. . . snap?

Read all of Sedaris treads familiar ground with a more seasoned step.

No matter what they think we'll be presenting David Sedaris at Symphony Hall on October 12. Subscriptions are on sale now, individual tickets in September, at

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rubinstein by Picasso


Just for fun, a little item from our archives: Rubinstein as sketched by Picasso in 1958. Distributed as promotional material for Rubinstein's recitals during the 1960s (nice of Picasso not to move Rubinstein's face around). A summit meeting of two people each known by only one name. To be a fly on the wall . . .

Friday, June 6, 2008

National Donut Day

It's that time of year after our performance season ends and before the next one has begun (we'll be in this odd purgatory for a while). Rest assured, we are hard at work on AileyCamp Boston (final performance August 7 at the Tsai Performance Center, thank you) and getting ready for 2008-2009. It is at times like these that a performing arts staff member's heart turns to donuts . . .

I'll start with the Mass Media take - it's National Doughnut/Donut Day and here is MSN City Guide article to prove it: Great Donuts: A Baker's Dozen. Ugh, a "best of" article. These pieces are only about getting us all riled up by paying inadequate attention to our local experience, like some inane talk radio argument. What I dislike about them most is how well they work on me . . .

My personal favorite in the Boston area is Ohlin's Bakery in Belmont. They don't have a web site (they are SO old school), but here is their Yelp page (I wonder if they know they have a Yelp page). I recommend going between 6 and 8 am for a little honey-dipped slab of heaven.

In the spirit of cheap non-journalism, I invite your donut recommendations, local or otherwise.

MSN's article is redeemed by it's fanatical author, Brett Stetka, with his donut obsessed blog, The Blognut.

The origin of National Doughtnut/Donut Day can be traced back to a fund raising effort in 1938 by the Salvation Army, though you won't find a reference to it on their web site. That's too bad, because I wanted to ask them why National Doughnut/Donut falls on the first Friday in June and not during the frigid winter
months when we are all covered up and can rationalize the extra fat as
a bulwark against the cold is beyond me. I'm not going to press the
issue, they probably have more important things to focus on.

Marcia Siegel on "Dido and Aeneas" for the Phoenix

Along with the earlier mentioned Phoenix reviews, Marcia Siegel's review of the Mark-Morris-Dance-Group's-"Dido-and-Aeneas"-with-Emmanuel-Music-conducted by-Mark-himself (whew) is in this week's Boston Phoenix. Read Dido's fate.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lloyd Schwartz on Mark Morris

Boston Phoenix classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz has weighed in (online today, in print tomorrow) on the Mark Morris Dance Group, "Dido and Aeneas" and Mark Morris, the conductor. Here is a taste of the ever thoughtful Mr. Schwartz:

"Morris didn’t take an opening bow, perhaps wanting to
keep the spotlight focused on the dancers and singers. But he led with Smith’s
remarkable combination of gravity and buoyancy. He got the orchestra to embody,
even caress, each phrase. He found and maintained the rhythmic life not only in
Purcell’s teasing, earthy jollity but also in his profound solemnity, providing
sympathetic support for dancers and musicians alike. The final moments, the
tragic funereal procession of Dido’s sister and subjects, were exquisite in
their slow dissolve. Of course the center of the piece is Morris’s extraordinary
choreography, but this was the rare Dido you could love even with your eyes

Read all of Grand Finales

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gantz by a length, the Boston Phoenix reviews "Dido"

There will likely be three reviews of the Mark Morris Dance Group's "Dido and Aeneas" (music, dance, Mark, there's a lot to cover) from writers at the Boston Phoenix. First out of the gate is Arts Editor Jeffrey Gantz with a reviewthe headline of which sounds to me like the name of a racehorse: Altar and Ego. Then again, "Boston Phoenix" would make a credible name for a horse, too. No offense.