Onward Came the Clavichord

Carole Cerasi opened Boston Early Music Festival’s Organ & Keyboard mini-festival with the usual suspects of clavichord composers (Haydn, CPE Bach, and Johann Müthel), utilizing a 1789 by Johann Christoph … [continued] [continued]

Singing in Hebrew from Rossi to Tedesco

Zamir Chorale of Boston’s focused on Jewish music originating in Italy for the rewarding finale of its 54th season Thursday evening. At Newton’s Temple Emanuel, a large crowd turned out to cheer. [continued]

H+H Makes Enlightening Connections

“Crossing the Deep,” rife with physical and emotional metaphor, paired 9 of Handel’s Chandos Anthems, written during his residency at the home of the Duke of Chandos between 1717 and 1719, with Negro Spirituals whose texts reflected on many of the same themes. [continued]

329-Years-Later Circé Casts Spells Again

Boston Early Music Festival’s much anticipated Centerpiece Opera, Henri Desmarest’s five-act Circé (to a libretto of Louise-Geneviève Gillot de born Gillot de Beaucourt), kept an enthusiastic full house alert for three- and one-half hours at the Cutler Majestic Theater yesterday afternoon. (continuing through June 11th) [continued]

Skylark to Public: War Is Hell

“Clear Voices in the Dark” fascinatingly combined of Poulenc’s Figure Humaine with songs from the American Civil War at Church of the RedeemerChestnut Hill on Sunday. Skylark’s artistic director Matthew Guard noted that his idea stemmed from a desire to make Poulenc’s masterpiece more accessible to an American audience. [continued]

Explicating Boston GuitarFest XVIII

We live in “interesting” times. Fundamental “truths” we once held to be “self-evident” are now under attack from all sides while a pitiless, monster of our own invention called “AI” looms over us, not “slouching its way towards Bethlehem waiting to be born” (like the beast in Yeats’s prophetic poem The Second Coming) but already here!

For Co-Director Zaira Meneses and me, Boston GuitarFest has been part of a very personal answer to the challenges of 21st-century existence, one of the ways we try to make a difference. Since 2022 we have run “BGFest” under the auspices of the Eliot Fisk Guitar Academy (“EFGA”). Events take place in East Cambridge from June 27th – July 2nd. Details HERE and below.

Started in 2006 on a shoestring, Boston GuitarFest has become an important annual event in the always-bustling Boston cultural calendar. Its inter-disciplinary, internationalist approach and educational focus mixing live performances by master artists in multiple musical idioms and educational opportunities for all ages and levels of skill, have attracted generous support from a wide variety of foundations and individuals. [continued]


Who Could Ask For Anything More?

The Boston Pops outdid itself Wednesday evening with the new blockbuster duo of singer/pianist Michael Feinstein and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. [continued]

Gusev Got to My Core

Pianist Ivan Gusev beautifully rendered two Mozart sonatas and Schubert’s final one on Saturday at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Winchester, [continued]

Ludovico at 20

Yesterday two violas and cimbalom celebrated the new-music group’s 20th year of existence. Marti Epstein, composer from the BoCo faculty, welcomed the audience in the Studio 401 black box theater [continued]

Spectrum Singers Long in Intensity

The Spectrum Singers, under John Ehrlich with soprano Sarah Yanovitch Vitale, mezzo-soprano Katherine Maysek, tenor Charles Blandy and bass Mark Andrew Cleveland performed Mozart’s Dominican Vespers K. 321 and his … [continued] [continued]

Piano Plus and Friends

Joan Tower made the trek across the river to hear composer and pianist John Halle in the Piano Plus Series. [continued]

Musical Chairs on Mother’s Day

The Boston Chamber Music Society began its Mother’s Day concert at Jordan Hall with the Mozart Piano Quartet in G Minor, K.478. Works by Guillaume Connesson, Tison Street and Dohnanyi completed the well-received concert. [continued]

Schubertiade for Aston Magna

The Aston Magna Festival and Foundation will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this  summer. In the meantime, a special Schubertiade celebrating the 30th anniversary of Daniel Stepner’s ascension to Artistic Directorship will offer feature the master’s String Trio in B Flat, D. 471, Moments Musicaux, D. 780,nos. 2 and 5, Sonata (“Arpeggione”), D. 821, Quintet in A Major (“The Trout”), D. 667 on May 2oth at Newton’s Allen Center and on May 21st at 3:00 at Saint James Place Great Barrington. Tickets HERE.

Stepner  shared his thoughts with the Intelligencer last December.

BMInt: Congratulations Dan on your 30 years directing Aston Magna! Wonderful to hear that Aston Magna will celebrate its 50th next summer!

Thank you! Time flies when you’re having fun, and it is hardly believable to me that it’s been 30 years.

Were you involved in the birth of Aston Magna? [continued]


Her | alive.un.dead

Emily Koh’s show premiered this past weekend at the Pao Arts Center in Guerilla Opera’s  powerful production. The story of three generations of women in a family came across through  excellent direction and creative scoring. Despite the weighty themes, we enjoyed an appropriate celebration of motherhood, femininity, and life around Mother’s Day. [continued]

Musica Sacra: Double Takes

Musica Sacra’s “One Text, Two Perspectives,” which paired composers who have essayed identical text, offered First Church Cambridge’s Saturday audience the beautiful sounds of 21 auditioned singers practiced to the point of exquisite purity of tone. [continued]

Sarasa Covers with Cello Quartet

Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble’s “Take Four! Music for Cello Quartet” featured cellists of different persuasions curiously melding in covers from Josquin des Prez to Dave Brubeck. Jake Charkey. [continued]

A Gift from NEP: Shostakovich’s Leningrad

New England Philharmonic under music director Tianhui Ng rose to their challenges Sunday at the Tsai Performance Center. Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony served as the third work in a demanding afternoon. [continued]

Back Bay Chorale Strikes Fire with Exodus

Ninety-voices strong, with an orchestra of 34, the Back Bay Chorale projected powerfully, courageously, accurately,  conveying deep engagement, achieving tremendous victories over Handel’s challenges in Israel in Egypt. [continued]

Music Born in Turmoil

Coro Allegro observed the centenary of Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006) and 30 years of the artistic directorship of David Hodgkins Sunday at Sanders Theater. As is its wont, Coro mixed contemporary music with topical themes and standard repertoire. [continued]

Pulitzer Winner Omar Looks Towards Opera’s Future

Boston Lyric Opera’s production of the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Omar triumphed in a sold-out run at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater from May 4th-7th.  Co-composers Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels brought new life to the opera stage by expanding the choice of whose story deserves to be told. [continued]

Be She Alive or Be She Dead

Emily Koh’s HER | alive.un.dead will run from May 12th to May 14th in Guerilla  Opera’s world premiere production at Pao Arts Center. The concert-length media opera concerns itself with three generations of Asian women in a single family. The opera focuses on the specific experiences of being an Asian woman in a largely Western society and upbringing. This clash between East and West is interpreted differently between three generations of women in a single family, and changes drastically from character to character due to each character’s background and upbringing.

The creative team for this original production includes composer and librettist Emily Koh, stage direction by Mo Zhou, and video projection design by Nuozhou Wang. The opera runs approximately 90 minutes and is sung in English, Mandarin and Teochew with supertitles. BMInt asked stage director Mo Zhou, whose recent work with Boston Baroque we praised HERE, and composer and librettist Emily Koh, to picture the show for us.

MZ: Emily and I are immigrants to United States, and we both have experienced clashes between the eastern patriarchal system and our later-found, liberty and new identity, as independent women living in western society. [continued]


Appealing Balancing Act in Ashmont

Violinist Geneva Lewis and pianist Evren Ozel soothed and challenged the sold-out Peabody Hall at All Saints Church, bringing off Sunday’s concert with great elan.   [continued]

Menahem Pressler, 1923-2023

It saddened me to read about the death two days ago of Menahem Pressler, founding pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio. With such illustrious partners as Isidore Cohen, violin; and Bernard Greenhouse, cello; Pressler performed all over the world, making many recordings of the best trio literature that remain unsurpassed for the ages. He appeared frequently as a solo pianist as well, including a short residency at my own Tufts University, and I remember that he made the first recording ever of Debussy’s ballet, La boîte à joujoux, at least 30 years before the Boston Symphony finally performed it in its orchestral version. The NYTimes obituary contains Pressler’s harrowing recollection of Kristallnacht from his 14th year. We remember him with wistful admiration; this noble artist lived so long and so well, until six months short of his 100th birthday. He appeared many times in Boston, including for the Celebrity Series and the BSO. Of his 2016 visit to the BSO, Georgia Luikens wrote for BMInt: [continued]


Two Four-Stringed Instruments: So Very Different

“String of Soul” immersed us in a sonic journey as it combined the warm assertiveness of Hsin-Yun Huang’s viola with the otherworldly and timeless sonorities of Wu Man’s pipa in Saturday night’s Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts concert at Jordan Hall. [continued]

A Musical Journey Through the Pandemic

“Healing and Transcendence” aptly defined the Eureka Ensemble’s results in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 in E Minor at the Church of the Covenant on Saturday night. [continued]

Reintroducing Lost Treasures

David Russell’s May 6th  recital for the Boston Classical Guitar Society at Boston’s First Lutheran Church reminded us that there is yet much to say in the tonal language and that treasures by forgotten figures await discovery. [continued]

Mayor Wu Leads City on a Hill From Keyboard

For one inspiring afternoon, Boston returned to its elevated Athenian stature, as Mayor Michelle Wu, resplendent in an intensely blue evening gown (how often has anyone so described a mayor?) filled two movingly essential roles on the Symphony Hall stage. To begin with, she welcomed a young full house many of whom have never been in the Hall before to the BSO’s free “Concert for the City,” but that was not all, she later showed off her musical chops by playing the Andante from the Elvira Madigan Concerto (Mozart’s 21st) with poetic engagement. To witness an articulate, intellectual, and artistic child of immigrants show so much compassion for her diverse citizenry, moved this writer to intense pride in having such a woman represent him in City Hall.

The BSO outdid itself for this event, filling the lobbies and lounges with assorted young players, dancers, and singers in a variety of genres in the hour before the main event. Though the mantra for the afternoon was music is for everyone, the BSO hardly pandered or condescended. We got the Boston Pops A team, including all the BSO principal players and maestros Andris Nelsons and Keith Lockhart for a program that never failed to interest and excite.

If Michele Wu’s concerto stint reached into realms sublime and elicited a grateful acknowledgement of the rarity of such an encounter, it occupied but one slot (briefly outside time and place) within an hourlong traversal of short works with strong Boston connections. The alternating conductors led us through a variety of stylish performances that seemed idiomatic time after time, advocating for composers across genres, doing justice and more to George Whitefield Chadwick, Chick Corea, Florence Price, Roberto Sierra, John Williams, Duke Ellington, Valerie Coleman, and Dropkick Murphy’s punk Irish band as well as Mozart. Will anything banish the memory of Lockhart’s Irish jig? Well maybe his later do-si-do with an astonished but amused Andris Nelsons while Mayor Wu and the entire cast, including brilliant Ellington narrator Charlotte Blake Alston, sang and swayed in the encore “Sweet Caroline.” [continued]


Britten Highlighted in “This Love Unbound”

An Urbanity Dance-Emmanuel Music collaboration brought “This Love Unbound” to Arts at the Armory in Somerville  last Saturday and Sunday. Short recent works by John Harbison and Caroline Shaw broke up the multi-disciplinary exploration of three works by Benjamin Britten. [continued]

BSO Closes Season Somberly

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s paired Britten’s Violin Concerto (Augustin Hadelich soloist) with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13  Babi Yar (Matthias Goerne, baritone) in this weekend’s concerts. [continued]

Blue Heron Sings for Isabella

Blue Heron’s concert offered early Renaissance secular music  themed around Isabella’s court at First Church Cambridge on Saturday; players surprisingly outnumbering singers four to two! [continued]
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