Tonight, A&E is gracing the nation with a display lacking r’s and chock full o’ attitude that is titled ‘Southie Rules,’ a reality show depicting the ‘average’ South Boston yuppy-hating, Irish-loving family. The premiere comes just days after Robert De Niro announced his new Showtime series featuring Southie as the playground for a young neo-Nazi regime sending residents and politicians, on the city and state level, into outrage.
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Picture this: You’re sitting at your local sports bar on a Wednesday night listening to the deadbeat at the end of the bar complain about corporate America and his wife’s cooking for the 3rd straight hour. The sound of clashing pool balls circulates the room as the sports commentator droning from the nearby television announces that yes, Tom Brady missed his target yet again and the bartender shoots you another glare for reasons that you still don’t understand. It’s dark. It’s dank. It’s downright miserable.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not if you live around Cambridge, at least.
I was told the other day that 1/3 of Boston’s population is composed of students. 1/3. Considering Boston’s population is now well over 600,000 people, that calculates to about 200,000 students in the city alone. This would not be as significant if it were not for all the student-run businesses that have sprung up as a result, including the small concert-cafe known as Cafe 939.
Sophie Milman’s most-recent release, In the Moonlight, is a smoldering set of tunes, rich and enchanting, an incredible catalog of the versatility and restraint of Milman’s delivery. Her tone is pure silk, unraveling into some of the sweetest motifs I’ve heard in contemporary jazz in ages, all the while avoiding the pop clichés of which other, perhaps more famous, current jazz singers are often guilty.
Mostly, though, what sets Sophie apart from her contemporaries is that her singing is sincere. It isn’t simply saccharine, and the difference is evident. So Sorry, Milman’s cover of the rather delicious song made semi-famous by Feist, is hands down my favorite track from the record.
Curious yet? Milman comes to the Regattabar tonight for a performance that’s sure to be worth the trip, and then some. Details below.
November 16, 2011
One Bennett Street
Cambridge, MA 02128
P | (617) 661-5000
7:30PM — $25
10:00PM — $22
Aksyon presents, ‘Contemporary Haiti’, a fundraising Gala at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, featuring a headlining performance from Grammy-award winning Wyclef Jean, and a diverse group of superlative Haitian talent.
Aksyon was established to promote the richness of Haitian culture and highlight the innovation, artistry and works created by emerging Haitian artists and designers from the US and Haiti.
What: A special evening supporting Aksyonfeaturing:
– VIP Dinner Reception featuring Haitian fusion cuisine by celebrity chef Todd English
– Musical performance by Grammy-award and Haitian-American superstar – Wyclef Jean
– Artist Showcase- gorgeous, eye-popping, hand selected fashion, art and design from emerging Haitian artists and artisans
– After Party with Dancing and a Dessert Reception
– Online auction hosted by charitybuzz from Nov 10 – Dec 1 at www.charitybuzz.com/aksyon with incredible celebrity experiences, luxury travel and Haitian art
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2011
7PM – MIDNIGHT
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston |
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
TICKETS (PER PERSON) | $500 VIP & $250 Concert and After Party
For more information & to purchase tickets, contact:
P | (617) 778-5770
W | creativeeventsinc.com
On November 1st, as part of the DANCE/DRAW exhibition at the ICA in Boston, Paul Chan and William Forsythe will be speaking in conversation with ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth. The talk will explore the junction of performance and art, focusing on 21st century artists that have branched out from their specific medium. The DANCE/DRAW show, which opened October 7th, is an interesting mélange of works in and of itself. Here Molesworth is attempting to examine how the body leaves traces after movement, exploring performance, performance art, and more traditional physical arts, and how the interplay between these different dimensions of art has formed something a little more complex when one compares the corporeal verses the ethereal.
William Forsythe is a brilliant contemporary choreographer and dancer, known for being one of the first to re-envision classical ballet choreography, deconstructing said choreography’s structures and forms in extremely groundbreaking ways. He is also acutely engaged in other forms of art-making, particular performance and multimedia work.
Paul Chan is a contemporary art genius out of New York, and truly embraces the contemporary interdisciplinarity of art-making, working primarily in multimedia but never limiting himself to one medium. His work has been in many exhibitions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery in London and the New Museum in New York. He is represented by Greene Neftali gallery in Manhattan.
Find out more about the talk and exhibition at the ICA’s website.
Sarah Chang is a virtuoso violinist of the highest order. She began playing at the age of four. At the age of nine, she made her soloist début with the New York Philharmonic. Since that time, she has enjoyed the rare success of both critical acclaim and lasting commercial relevance, captivating audiences and record listeners alike with her measured approach to music and its many mysteries.
This Sunday, October 16th, Ms. Chang comes to Boston for a performance at Symphony Hall, as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston. At the heart of Sunday’s program are two richly expressive, Romantic-era chamber works: the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 in d minor and the Franck Violin Sonata in A Major. Ms. Chang has performed these pieces the world over, and in her hands the sometimes-enigmatic motifs of each seem to unfurl, revealing unparalleled moments of musical transcendence. In short, this is a program you cannot afford to miss.
Sarah Chang, violin
Andrew von Oeyen, piano
Sunday, October 16, 3:00PM
Buy your tickets now.
This weekend the Boston Symphony Orchestra opened its 2011/2012 season, the first sans longstanding conductor James Levine. On the program were Mozart’s five violin concertos, performed over two consecutive evenings. It was a bold choice for the BSO, as of those five concertos only two—the third in G Major and the fifth in A Major—enjoy any notable popularity. The first and second concertos, while clear examples of Mozart’s early musical genius, are hardly ever played. The fourth is played more frequently than the first two, but not by any great margin. Clearly, the BSO understood: the third and the fifth concertos were slated for Friday’s Opening Gala; the remaining first, second and fourth concertos, the night thereafter.
The reason the BSO could afford potentially putting off its patrons with the latter program of less-popular material was simple: Anne-Sophie Mutter, the acclaimed German virtuoso, was scheduled to lead the orchestra as both soloist and conductor. While Ms. Mutter possesses many of the ‘star soloist’ characteristics that sell tickets–an award-winning recording career, performances in every major city, with every major orchestra, a sterling educational pedigree, etc–what separates her from her contemporaries is not her glittering CV. It is, rather, the distinctive and arresting emotional language of her playing.
That said, in the spirit of putting my attention span to the test, I opted for the latter of the two programs. [Having played the third and the fifth concertos in my younger years, I had little interest in seeing them performed. Frankly, even the rich musicality I expect of Ms. Mutter could not have erased the memories of being forced to play those works. All that frothiness, the lightness of bow, the incessant trills and superfluous grace notes. Give me Dvořák's Concerto in a minor or give me death, thank you very much.]
When I entered Symphony Hall just before 8PM on Saturday there wasn’t an empty seat in sight, save, thankfully, for mine. It is a testament to Ms. Mutter’s appeal that such a program appeared to be sold out, an otherwise unlikely scenario for a roster of concertos which most of the audience had doubtfully ever heard.
On the stage there was a significantly pared-down ensemble–one more in keeping with the chamber ensembles that would have performed these concertos during Mozart’s era. This more intimate arrangement, coupled with the lingering absence of Mr. Levine, seemed to suggest that the BSO would be doing things a bit differently this season. But the real focus was always Ms. Mutter, as the entire audience waited with bated breath for her to grace the stage.
Ms. Mutter did, in fact, grace the stage. First, with a black silk-satin and chiffon gown, and then, and much more notably, with her musicianship.
Throughout the program, she demonstrated an incredible range of voice in her approach, shifting effortlessly from fury to finesse, from defiant, heavy-fisted vigor to the most ephemeral effervescence. In each of the three concertos, she transformed perfectly ordinary motifs into something divine: sustained single notes which hovered above the room for a time and then melted away into nothingness; passages rife with deceptively difficult technical feats, wherein Ms. Mutter would jump from the G string to the E string (that is, skipping the two middle strings altogether) with aplomb; and her handling of Mozart’s characteristic, and nearly constant, trills–the rapid fluctuation between two notes. Typically, trills are almost purely decorative, but in Ms. Mutter’s hands they were sublime phrases in their own right, evocative of mischievous songbirds.
And yes, her many cadenzas–those perfunctory exhibitions of sprawling technical virtuosity–were certainly impressive, but it was during the fleeting minor motifs that she most impressed herself upon the audience. In these passages her tone was at its richest, languid and robust, one supple sostenuto after another. She seemed to burrow into the somber phrases and then languorously emerge, as if with a prolonged sigh. In short, her command of her instrument was often eclipsed by the conviction with which she played, inviting the audience into a musical experience as rare as it was otherworldly.
It is true that her sometimes less-than-traditional approach has earned her a Purist critic here and there, and I will admit that Ms. Mutter did seem most at home in Mozart’s music when she was playing his lighthearted Classical-era motifs with her trademark Romantic-era pathos. Yes, she took certain liberties: a generous and wide Germanic vibrato (which is not wholly historically accurate), a reoccurring rubato (the lingering to elongate a phrase–again, not wholly historically accurate considering how often it was employed outside of the composer’s notations), and, perhaps most frequently, her playing many already-rather-fast passages so rapidly that they were nearly indistinguishable, save for the passing effect they created. But it was precisely because of these liberties that the concertos, which to me have always felt claustrophobic in their ebullient simplicity, were suddenly fresh and relevant, intensely expressive instead of merely elegant.
The BSO did a commendable job of complementing Ms. Mutter’s musicality, especially considering that concertos like Mozart’s have a way of relegating the ensemble to a strictly supporting role. This pared-down setting seemed instead to highlight the individual musicians, affording a level of nuance often lost to the grand swell of a full symphonic setting. Gone was the stiffness, the separation between ensemble and soloist, the rigid call-and-response. At times, the relationship between the BSO and Ms. Mutter was so intimate I felt as though I was watching a relaxed rehearsal among close friends.
For the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this opening night series could have served to underscore the absence of Mr. Levine. Instead, it was a resounding celebration of those present: the dynamic virtuoso and the committed musicians of the BSO who, with or without their beloved conductor, are not only moving forward, but moving ahead.
Full disclosure: the Boston Ballet’s Bella Figura had me spellbound long before I passed through the doors of the Opera House. The Italian idiom, the stunning promotional images, the roster of some of ballet’s most arresting–and provocative–choreographers. I could hardly claim objectivity. Instead, I attended anticipating a contemporary work of the earth-shattering variety, a giddy, hyper-stimulated fanboy.
Bella Figura was just that, and then some. Throughout the program of shorter works, the Boston Ballet’s dancers demonstrated the requisite command of craft and versatility–shifting effortlessly from near-rigid, stilted sequences to broad swaths of supple movement–that makes this company one of the most respected in the country. But where they exceeded expectation was the conviction, the electric emotional energy, with which these dancers took to the stage, and to the works, diverse as they were.
The image above is an excellent example: the pair having each just shed their clothes (and with it their proverbial skins), this dénouement of sorts was frenetic but achingly vulnerable, an ephemeral moment as beautifully felt as it was beautifully danced. The only word for its lingering effect is haunting.
Extraordinary as that moment was, the honor of the ‘highlight’ is owed to the touching pas de deux, Tsukiyo, in the second act of the program. Set in a haze of lazy clouds, it was the clear crowd favorite. In no small way due to the sheer commitment of Lia Cirio’s dancing…
Cirio is one of the most engaging dancers I have ever witnessed. The depth she imbues in her movements is the variety of emotional resonance that goes beyond beauty of form, or, even, bella figura. She has both a fury and a fragility in her frame, and the stage never feels more alive than when she is on it.
I, you, the entire city of Boston, would do well to witness it more often.
You can purchase your tickets here: Bella Figura
Evgeny Kissin, a legend among mere men (and, incidentally, an idol of mine since I began playing (violin) as a boy…), is coming to the BSO next weekend for a concert that combines two monuments of the pianist’s repertoire: Grieg’s Concerto and Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in e minor.
An interesting aside: The Chopin Concerto was one of the first Kissin ever performed. Much like the Gould performances of Bach’s Goldberg variations, it is no small wonder to witness the ways in which a performer’s perspective on a piece changes, as with all things, with time.
Of course, all three concerts are sold out, but you can get your Kissin fix here.
I could not be more excited for the critically acclaimed Discovery Ensemble’s upcoming program: Three Faces of Romanticism: Music of Wagner, Schreker and Schumann. I recently sat down with the ever-charming Courtney Lewis, Conductor and Founding Music Director, and he dishes about his history, the ensemble, traveling, and the future of classical music in the Americas.
The performance is this Thursday, March 17, at 7:30pm at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. For more information, go here, or call 617-496-2222. And thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, Discovery Ensemble is able to offer up to 500 free tickets to college students with valid ID!
Courtney Lewis, the 26-year old Irish transplant, is a rising new talent, and it’s his sharp, keen and passionate interpretation of the music he selects that presents his greatest point of promise: a fresh injection of much-needed energy into the contemporary classical music scene.
Full interview, after the JUMP
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