Juventas New Music Ensemble designed its season finale “Alone Together” with the current human assemblage restrictions in mind, attempting both to simulate the experience of live performance and to capitalize on the unique potentialities of a Futura Studios as a digital performance space.    [continued]

Boston Lyric Opera’s recent Norma dress rehearsal recording, sent to us wirelessly by WCRB, came up to high sonic standards, though it lacked the excitement produced by the interaction of singers and players with a live audience. The stream will be available for a month on WCRB and on the BLO website.    [continued]

Turangalîla may not be the most important piece of music composed anywhere since Le sacre du printemps, as Koussevitzky supposedly said, but it remains breathtakingly pretentious in a way that is fully refreshing even though exhausting. And, we may note that it first took life with our own orchestra.    [continued]

With piccolo’s piercing trills, trumpet’s penetrating drills, timpani’s thundering fills, orchestra’s tutti tuning, and patrons’ neglect of the intimate and considerate whisper, concert halls reach a colossal crescendo even before the downbeat.    [continued]

To a largely empty Symphony Hall (family and friends of the orchestra were admitted) the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra under Benjamin Zander took on the ambitious program of Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for live-streaming apparatus; it worked some of the time.    [continued]

Larry Thomas Bell, a longtime presence in Boston now teaching at Berklee and, quite pertinently, one of this area’s most prominent neo-tonal composers, premiered his 24 Preludes and Fugues in all the key at Jordan Hall on Sunday. A tag team of four gifted pianists did the 12 numbers.    [continued]

Last night the BSO played some scintillating music from more arctic climes. With Hannu Lintu conducting and Seong-Jin Cho as solo pianist, Symphony Hall resounded to the music of Þorvaldsdóttir, Prokofiev, and Sibelius. The concert repeats today and tomorrow.    [continued]

Bobby McFerrin, the vocalist responsible for the 1988 hit tune Don’t Worry Be Happy, appeared Sunday at Symphony Hall alongside multi-instrumentalist Louise Cato, bass vocalist Joey Blake, human percussionist David Worm, The Singing Tribe, and special guest Meredith Monk.    [continued]

The distinguished, award-winning, many-ventured Pittsburgh-born pianist and professor is not old in years, but on Tuesday at Seully Hall he gave a lesson in keyboard performance of a sort seldom heard in concerts anymore.    [continued]

Dang Thai Son returned to Jordan Hall Saturday night for his 6th performance in Boston sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. His salon-style concert of Debussy, Chopin, and Schubert invited us to dance.    [continued]

Masterworks Chorale programmed works from composers who, to some extent, musically begat one another, concluding with Ernest Bloch’s remarkably moving Avodath Hakodesh, at Old South Church in Boston on Sunday. Organist Ross Wood and baritone Ian Pomerantz highlighted the proceedings    [continued]

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Mark DeVoto ca 1990

What do musicologists do during the Lockdown? Well, some of them write memoirs. A friend of mine, a composer, told me that whenever he talked with strangers in northern Minnesota and mentioned that he was a musician by profession, they would say to him, “You’re a musician? I wonder if you could tell me what to do for my sore throat?” My friend thus learned that in Fargo-Moorhead, “musician” means “singer.” Around New England, when people ask me what is my profession, I say “music professor,” although now retired. Sometimes I say “musician.” “What kind of musician?” “Professor of music.” “Oh.”

But because of my know-it-all personality, which often radiates smartass, I’ve been called “professor” ever since I was ten. Within my own trade I am known as a musicologist, supposedly a specialist in Musikwissenschaft, musical science. There are various kinds of musicologists. I’ve been a member of the American Musicological Society since 1964, when the society was essentially an academic society for historical musicologists. My graduate training included historical musicology, music theory, and composition, all areas in which I taught at the college level for 36 years. I claim to be principally an analytical musicologist, in an area which sometimes dips into music theory and history of musical style. Another area in which I have worked extensively is documentary musicology, in which I have had little training but a lot of experience, and this is what I want to discuss today.

In 1955, at age 15, I spent a summer taking piano lessons with an excellent teacher, Gregory Tucker, a well-known pianist in the Boston area who taught at the Longy School and Bennington College, and later was a professor at MIT. I last saw him in 1962 when, recognizing me among those assembled for a memorial, he drafted me to turn pages for him in the concert that followed the ceremony. In 1983, when I was teaching at Tufts University, one of my colleagues asked me if I could help one of her friends, a piano teacher, in examining several large cartons of papers that she had been given by Tucker’s children, who after his death didn’t know what to do with them. I said I’d be happy to look over the papers. These included a batch of books and printed music but also a number of musical autographs. [continued…]

It’s July 4th weekend… are you missing the fireworks over the Charles and the sounds of the Boston Pops over the Esplanade?

Here are a ten links and suggestions to help you get your patriotic musical “fix” in early July:

The 2020 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular broadcast, under the direction Keith Lockhart, will present A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes, featuring both new content (the fantastic newly released video of John Williams’ Summon the Heroes) and favorites from past celebrations, including (in order) Broadway legend Brian Stokes Mitchell singing “America the Beautiful” and “Wheels of a Dream”; Amanda Mena, America’s Got Talent semi-finalist from Lynn, MA, sings Pink’s What About US and the national anthem with the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters; Melissa Etheridge (“I Wanna Come Over”); Amanda Gorman, first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, performs a new take on the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” entitled “Believer’s Hymn for the Republic,” Broadway star Leslie Odom, Jr, singing “Sarah” from The Civil War, and “Without You” from Rent; Rhiannon Giddens (“Pretty Little Girl” and “She’s Got You”); Rita Moreno narrating excerpts from Ellis Island: The Dream of America; Arlo Guthrie & The Texas Tenors singing “This Land Is Your Land;” Queen Latifah,  (“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”); Andy Grammer (“Give Love”); and The U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus and the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drum (Lexington, MA) joining the Pops for Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” [continued…]

Roland Hayes

Music and poetry can be means of resistance, and they also play a role in uniting diverse groups. Boston’s early heritage of African American scholars, writers, and musicians make the city an interesting subject for artistic and historical inquiry in these challenging times.

THE LEGACY OF PHYLLIS WHEATLEY

The first Africans arrived in Boston in 1638, and the city became very active in the slave trade. By 1700 there were more than 400 enslaved African Americans in Boston, with the beginnings of a free Black community in the North End. At mid-century, the British mainland American colonies had a population of approximately 1.5 million. Each year 3,500 captives arrived from Africa and the Caribbean, so nearly one in five Americans, or 300,000 people, were enslaved.

Lucy Terry Prince (c1730-1821) was a gifted speaker and the first recorded African American author of a poem (“Bars Fight,” see the full poem HERE), describing the last Indian massacre in Deerfield, MA in 1746, where she worked as a household slave in from 1735-1756. The poem became part of local oral tradition and was finally published in 1855 in Josiah Gilbert Holland’s History of Western Massachusetts. Prince later moved to Vermont, where she became the first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (winning a land dispute); two of her sons enlisted in the Continental army in Massachusetts, and the Vermont Heritage Songbook includes a children’s song about her life. [continued…]

Toward the new post-normal: A baby step for audiences, a leap for performance.

Who misses live music more than the audiences? Musicians, that’s who.

Now that summer has arrived, the chamber organization Mistral Music will be joined, this Saturday at 6pm in Brookline’s Knyvet Square, by three BSO players to play the Ravel Duo, the Schubert Rosamunde Quartet, and a Beethoven String Trio.

North of the city, as part of its Summer Music on the Hill series, the Church of St. Andrew in Marblehead presents “On the Street Where You Live,” an outdoor concert featuring area star vocalists Holly Cameron and Matt Arnold accompanied by church music director Mary Jodice, on Sunday July 12, at 7pm. The rain date is July 18.

[continued…]

Gate to Ashton Villa

Four years ago, Liane Curtis, President of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, wrote a review for BMInt entitled “Black Composers Matter,”  highlighting the work of Boston’s concert and educational series Castle of Our Skins, named for a line from celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni’s Poem (for Nina). You can hear the original, read by the author, HERE.

After this month’s tragic events, peaceful protest, riots, and renewed calls for unity, Giovanni’s words ring loudly in my ears (“for we spirit to spirit will embrace this world”). Castle of Our Skins has begun to present community-based, multi-disciplinary projects (Ain’t I a Woman?) [reviewed HERE],  “I Am a Man,” 2019), and concerts featuring the works of local African American composers such as Trevor Weston, [reviewed HERE], but they make me want to hear more, to listen more deeply, and to explore Boston’s rich, local heritage of African American music.

Anthony R. Green, the director of Boston’s Castle of Our Skins, has presented new works in Boston almost every year since 2004: he has been commissioned by Make Music Boston, Celebrity Series Boston, and the Landmarks Orchestra. Excerpts of nine of his works can be heard HERE. His recent arrangement of Chouconne – Haitian Folk Song (for string quartet and orchestra) premiered at the Hatch Shell on Boston’s Esplanade in August 2019, and his recent youth orchestra commission Catto’s Courage premiered online in April 2020. Green’s prescient article on representation in the New Music community is available at NewMusicBox HERE. [continued…]

How to listen this summer.

Tanglewood announces what’s up and what’s new:

Last fall, before the time of plague, we published the upcoming Tanglewood season announcement, and then a month ago followed up with the BSO’s new plans for the online Tanglewood festival, called a Summer Tradition Transformed. Now, management has announced program details for the upcoming summer’s content both free and paid, the latter going on sale Monday, June 15th, through www.tanglewood.org. The audio and video streams will include material newly created and recorded at Tanglewood’s Linde Center this month and next, featuring artists and programs of the announced season. In addition to the free offerings, online programs range from $5 to $12 for a single stream to $15 to $90 for multiple-stream packages.

New content includes Saturday evening great performers in recital — video streams recorded at the Linde Center — spotlighting some who were to appear in the Shed as well as additional guests: Gil Shaham (7/3); Emanuel Ax (7/11); Pinchas Zukerman, Amanda Forsyth, and Bryan Wagorn (7/18); Augustin Hadelich and Orion Weiss (7/25); Yo-Yo Ma (8/1); Daniil Trifonov (8/8); Conrad Tao (8/15); and Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk (8/22).

BSO musicians in recital features 40 orchestra members in a Friday evening online series of new programs programs to be recorded at the Linde Center starting next week through July 11th.

But wait, there’s more. [continued…]

Juventas New Music Ensemble’s 15th-anniversary season “Emergence” will conclude with a livestreamed concert that will safely bring ensemble musicians back together for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ensemble bills its YouTube appearance in Alone Together [HERE] as, “…one of the first concerts of its kind in America.”

While social distancing live at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Julia Carey, piano; Minjin Chung, cello; Wolcott Humphrey, clarinet; Kelley Hollis, soprano; and Olga Patramanska-Bell, violin; will essay audience favorites by Emma Wine, Michael Gandolfi and Wei-Chieh Hu, plus Aaron Copland’s “Laurie’s Song” and the world premiere of Juventas Artistic Director Oliver Caplan’s Alone Together. An interactive pre-concert Composer Conversation moderated by horn player Anne Howarth begins at 7:00pm on Zoom [HERE].

Caplan wrote the program’s title piece Alone during the Massachusetts stay home advisory this spring. It reflects on the paradox of caring for each other by staying apart, and offers a hopeful vision of the day “the sun will shine again… somewhere beyond the bend.” [continued…]

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