A new music series to “present the next generation of contemporary artists to Boston audiences” has been announced by the venerable Celebrity Series of Boston. Under the banner of Stave Sessions, the weeklong festival will take place at the Berklee College of Music campus (160 Mass. Ave.) on the second and third floors of the multiuse high-rise built last spring. Performances will run nightly March 15-21, with 7:30 pm shows on March 15 and 17 and 7:30 and 9:30 pm shows the other nights.
“Stave Sessions will engage Boston’s ‘creative class’,” goes the announcement, “by building on partnerships with young professional groups and cultural organizations. Ticket prices will be accessible for urban professionals at $35 for stage-level cabaret seating and $20 for balcony standing. Bars with a specially curated Stave Sessions cocktail will be open throughout the evening.”
While many of the artists are familiar in the pop, jazz, and world music spheres, such as Banda Magna, Choropop (both appearing March 15), Kate Davis (March 17), Becca Stevens (March 19), and crossover artists Ben Sollee (March 17) and Max Richter (March 21), those whose names might be familiar to BMInt readers include Brooklyn-based composer-performer Gabriel Kahane (March 17), the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth (March 18), and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider (March 20).
BMInt good-naturedly grilled Celebrity Series head Gary Dunning:
The word ‘yuppie’ is out of fashion, yet that is how you describe the target group.
We expect to engage young urban professionals or what I’ve also heard referred to as the junior creative class. Many of those will come because they are already fans of these artists. We hope others will come to explore both the setting and the artists. We’ll also have some of the core Celebrity Series audience who are curious about what young artists are doing, so I expect a generally younger but quite mixed audience.
Through what marketing savvy have you come up with this line-blurring concept?
The intention wasn’t to blur the lines, the reality was to present work that is authentically mixed in its sources, influences, and ideas. This is where talented young artists are taking their music, and introducing them to Boston audiences lies at the heart of Celebrity Series’ mission.
Is Boston ready for a fulltime Poisson Rouge?
You could say that this begins to test the idea of whether a fulltime Poisson Rouge would be feasible in Boston.
Do the cabaret seats include drinks?
The cabaret level seats are table seating along with several rows behind the tables. Bars will be available on each level, but we’re not able to provide tableside service.
Isn’t there some danger that the line-blurring will offend all types of listener some of the time?
Even if some of this music may not be of interest to a segment of the audience, I don’t think the presentation of it will offend them. Variety of offerings has, for decades, been a hallmark of Celebrity Series. I think many of our supporters believe that offering variety is important for a robust cultural landscape in Boston, even if they themselves have certain genres or artists that they prefer.
What will snooty chamber-music lovers think?
Hopefully, music lovers of all genres will embrace the fact that Stave Sessions is a new series meant to diversify the landscape.
What sort of concert decorum are you expecting?
We will transform the space at 160 Mass Ave into a darkened theater, with a clublike concert experience. We hope the room’s transformation, and the inclusion of walkup bars, will encourage some movement and more engagement in the performances.