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First Nico Muhly Festival, at BoCo Berklee


Starting Tuesday and continuing through the weekend, the Boston Conservatory at Berklee will hold its annual New Music Festival: The Music of Nico Muhly, February 7–12, with Kunkemueller artist-in-residence Muhly on campus for the duration. He begins his residency at the Conservatory today, February 6; it ends Saturday, on the date of the 150th anniversary of the institution.

This is the first festival of Muhly’s works in Boston, and many will be performed in the city for the first time.

For a portrait of the artist as a younger man, including droll origin stories, see this interview.

During his time here, Muhly will perform in recital, teach composition seminars, give open chamber master classes, and coach all selections for the New Music Festival concerts. He also will host a public forum on composing for the dramatic stage, which will be presented before the Friday evening performance of his opera Dark Sisters at the Boston Conservatory Theater. Muhly’s longtime collaborator the famed violist Nadia Sirota will join in various works alongside him in recital.

Many events are free, and the full schedule is here.

The annual festival presents a series of modern music by world-class compositional voices of this and the last centuries. A focal point of the contemporary-music scene in Boston, it has previously highlighted the works of Boulez, Schuller, Andriessen, Crumb, and Martino.

“We are proud to honor Nico Muhly’s many accomplishments in contemporary music with this year’s New Music Festival,” said Eric Hewitt, artistic director. “Nico is an old friend, truly a visionary in the field of contemporary classical music, bringing together elements of the inherited and the experimental, and we welcome him into the classrooms and onto the stages at the Boston Conservatory with tremendous joy.”

All concerts will take place at Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall except for Dark Sisters (February 9-12), and its pre-show panel, on February 10 at the Boston Conservatory Theater. Seully Hall is located at 8 Fenway in Boston, while the BoCo Theater is located at 31 Hemenway Street. Tickets are available at or by calling the box office phone, 617-912-9222 Wednesday–Friday, noon to 5pm.

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  1. I have just seen the last performance of “Dark Sisters” this Sunday 12. Feb. Last night I read the review of the first performance in NYC in 2011 and now wonder whether the work has been revised and “improved” since then (NY Times felt the work weak, etc.; I almost didn’t go but the NY Times like the Globe has been wrong before). There was no information about the work, not even a synopsis, in the BosCon program. Yes, the opera as a work starts weak and I was about to console myself that at least I would never have to see it again when about midway thru the first act the story began to emerge (I think the turning point was Ruth’s recounting how her two children had died) and by the end of the act I cared about how the second act would go. The second act was superb; at the end I was left moved and glad I had gone. Kudos to what seemed to be an imaginitive staging of the TV show portion of the second act; the Jerry Rivers-type host was off to the left, the five interviewed wives (the plot involves Mormon polygamy) were being filmed closed-circuit TV on the right, while behind the small orchestra in the rear the video recorded by the on-stage cameraman rolled with a several seconds delay–just like real TV; The non-Menotti Medium was captured perfectly! At the quiet ending the audience refrained from applauding for some seconds; if only the first act hadn’t dragged for its first part.
    I could hear more of his music. However, the program had nothing at all about him (Nico Muhly); must have recourse to the Internet where we are at the mercy of Fake News. Hats off to the composer who resisted societal pressure to bash Mormons; one could conceive how the 15-year old girl could decide to NOT follow her mother out of the cult and to accept “marriage” with a 55 year-old man; must look up who did the libretto.
    This is a serious work on a serious subject, and it was well-performed and staged by the Boston Conservatory. What? No listing of it at the Opera in Boston website? Stay tuned for Otto Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor auf Deutsch towards the end of March.

    Comment by Nathan Redshield — February 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm

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