Arts for All

Students Learn the Power of Storytelling through Song

“Everybody has a story and these young people have stories that are worth hearing and that are worth sharing.”- Guy Mendilow

Words by: Alexandra Contreras
Video Production by: Kristín Otharsson

On December 11-13, Celebrity Series’ Neighborhood Arts program hosted a three-day songwriting and storytelling workshop at Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale. Vocalist and musician, Guy Mendilow) is an active music educator who utilizes Dalcroze Education as a way of teaching musicianship while cultivating vital skills such as deep focus and a sense of contribution, capability, and belonging that together form esteem. Together with violinist and composer, Chris Baum, and singer, pianist, and composer, Courtney Swain, they taught the workshop to 15 fifth graders from the Sumner Boys and Girls Club after school program, which is directed by Nina Vansuch. The emphasis of the workshop was on giving the students tools to share their stories in a more powerful way, so that they can resonate with people who are different from them.

Now, four months later, these stories provide the foundation for a song that the students and teachers recorded at Futura Productions Recording Studio in Roslindale. In between dances, laughs, and a pizza party, John Weston, founder of Futura Productions, explained the uses and functionalities of the studio’s equipment to these curious students who were filled with questions and a desire to learn. Listen to the song and watch the video of this fun and empowering learning experience! Continue Reading

Arts for All, Boston Community, Dance, Main Stage, Neighborhood Arts

50 Years of Alvin Ailey in Boston – Thanks for Celebrating with Us!

Words by: Alexandra Contreras
Photos by: Robert Torres

All season long we’ve been celebrating the 50-year relationship between Celebrity Series of Boston, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the people of Boston. The celebration culminated in the company’s incredible return engagement at the Boch Center Wang Theatre last month. With a variety of programs throughout the weekend, Ailey members showcased the company’s versatility and its ability to keep innovating while staying true to the roots and legacy of Mr. Ailey. Every performance included a selection from old and new pieces such as Members Don’t Get Weary (Jamar Roberts, 2017), The Golden Section (Twyla Tharp, 1983), In/Side, Stack-up (Talley Beatty, 1982), Victoria (Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, 2017), Ella (Robert Battle, 2008), and Mass (Robert Battle, 2017). Each performance closed with Mr. Ailey’s Revelations, the iconic masterpiece that has been capturing audiences’ hearts since 1960. Continue Reading

Main Stage, World Music

Chinese Shadow Puppetry: Exploring the 1,500-Year-Old Art Form

World-renowned master of the pipa Wu Man joins the brilliant Huayin Shadow Puppet Band at NEC’s Jordan Hall on March 25 for an afternoon of traditional Chinese music and other selections with shadow puppetry. Amid shouts and the strumming of lutes and fiddles, the percussion of clappers, small and large gongs, and the battering of a wooden bench, the band sings and plays about rural life in remote China, drawing the audience into places and sounds rarely heard in the West. Celebrity Series staffer Connor Buckley explores the rare Chinese Shadow Puppetry art form ahead of this highly anticipated performance.

By Connor Buckley
Photos Courtesy of Annie Katsura Rollins

When I first encountered Chinese Shadow Puppetry, I felt assaulted by overwhelming prettiness – there was color everywhere, and I loved it. How very Chinese, I thought, to stuff so much brightness and richness of color into a form with “shadow” in the name. Everything from the music to the puppets to the voices seemed to shimmer. I scoured the internet for photos and videos of this fabulously bombastic theater practice only to find that I was very quickly groveling for crumbs – very few people in the West seemed to have even heard of Chinese Shadow Puppetry, let alone found the will to trek through rural China in an effort to amass enough knowledge to spread the word about it. Continue Reading

Jazz, Vocalist

Jazzmeia Horn Kicks Off Stave Sessions 2018

Photos by Robert Torres
Video Production by Kristín Otharsson

On Tuesday, March 20, jazz fans met at Berklee College of Music’s 160 Mass. Ave. to kick off Celebrity Series of Boston’s multi-night Stave Sessions. Opening night attendees enjoyed an intimate atmosphere and performance by Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. Check out the photos and a recap video of the first night of Stave Sessions and get your tickets to see other amazing performances throughout the week! Continue Reading

Main Stage, Vocalist

Be In Service of the Art, Have Fun, and Try the Clam Chowder: Tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his Celebrity Series Debut

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee is a globe-trotting opera singer and avid recitalist who has sung with the likes of Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, and Cecilia Bartoli, while at the same time carving out a sterling reputation with critics and audiences for his vocal flexibility, range, and artistic curiosity.

The New York Times has glowed that he’s “a star tenor…who has made a specialty of difficult bel canto roles,” while The Washington Post extols his “gorgeous sound and sparkling diction.”

However, Brownlee isn’t just enthusiastic about performing on stages around the world. He’s also a dedicated father, a staunch advocate for Autism awareness, and lifetime Steelers fan (but his Twitter bio says he’s a Celtics fan, so we’ll take it!).

Brownlee joins long-time friend and recital companion, bass-baritone Eric Owens, for a performance of opera arias, American popular songs, and spirituals on April 7 at NEC’s Jordan Hall with pianist Myra Huang. While this performance marks the duo’s Celebrity Series debut, read on to discover how they first met (spoiler alert: it took place in Boston!).

Celebrity Series: You’re known for your pristine tone and vocal flexibility. Do you have any special warm ups before a performance?

Lawrence Brownlee: I don’t have any special warm ups; my vocal warm ups are the same for every performance. The basic idea is to get the voice as free and limber as possible, and then I can use every part of it that I will need. I strip it down to how the voice functions in general, and I warm up the high, the low, the fast, and the legato. I think about all of those different things in the warm up, and I have several exercises that help me to accomplish that.

CS: How did you and Eric meet? Why are your voices so well suited?

LB: I’ve known Eric for close to twenty years, and the first time we performed together I believe was in 2003 or 2004 at Boston Lyric Opera; we’ve remained friends and colleagues since that time. Our voices work well together because we both pride ourselves in being in service of the art and what the composer intended. And so, if [the score] says to sing piano, legato, or whatever it is, we try to adhere to that. I think it’s with this type of deference, or this attitude, that we are in the service of the music. That results in the best performance we can give as a duo—neither one of us is trying to outshine the other. Continue Reading

Dance, Main Stage

Why See Ailey Now?

This is a moment in time where it’s important to take a stand, and sometimes taking a stand means taking a seat to see something that represents the best of humanity.” — Ailey Artistic Director Robert Battle

In the turbulent year of 1968, then Celebrity Series Executive Director Walter Pierce took a chance with a single night engagement of a dynamic, emerging, African-American dance company at Boston’s John Hancock Hall. The success of the Boston debut of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has led to a 50-year relationship between this iconic dance company and the city of Boston. We’re honored to have brought generations of Ailey performers and Boston audiences together, and we hope you’ll join us to continue the tradition. The company returns March 22-25 for five performances at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, featuring two Boston premieres, re-staged classics, and three works by Artistic Director Robert Battle — as well as Alvin Ailey’s signature work, Revelations, set to close each program.

Whether it’s your first or 50th time, it is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Watch the video above to hear why Mr. Battle believes it’s important you see Ailey now. Continue Reading

Artist Connections, Boston Community, Dance, Main Stage, Neighborhood Arts

Thanks for Learning Revelations with Us!

Video by Kristín Otharsson
Photos by Robert Torres
Words by Alexandra Contreras

To continue celebrating the 50-year relationship between Celebrity Series of Boston, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the city of Boston, Celebrity Series hosted the Ailey Revelations Celebration Dance Workshops on Saturday, February 24, and Sunday, February 25, at the Salvation Army Kroc Center Gym and Reggie Lewis Athletic Center Gym, respectively.

During this weekend, 800 Ailey lovers joined former Ailey company member and Master Teacher Nasha Thomas as she taught the beginning of “I Been ‘Buked,” “Wade in the Water,” and “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham” – three iconic sections of Revelations, the most popular work of modern dance. Throughout the workshop, Thomas shared informative and interesting facts about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and always referred back to Mr. Ailey’s vision to give back to the community and empower younger generations. This vision was clearly embodied inside of these packed gyms and served to show the legacy that such an inspiring dance organization has left in American culture. Celebrity Series is proud to have shared this vision with Boston since 1968.

Thomas was joined by Ailey Master Teacher Cheryl Rowley-Gaskins and percussionist Roderick Jackson.

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate Revelations with us and to everyone who has joined us for Ailey performances and activities over the last 50 years! Special thanks to Ailey Arts in Education & Community Programs, Tufts Health Plan, Salvation Army Boston Kroc Center, and the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center for their partnership in helping to make these workshops possible, to Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga for serving as our MC, and to the St. Paul AME Church and Boston Latin School gospel choirs for sharing their music. View some of our favorite moments from the weekend below.

Join the celebration on March 22-25 for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s return engagement at the Boch Center Wang Theatre! Reserve your seats today. Continue Reading

Special Events




“The structure of this campaign is unique and driven by a strategic view of our future. The benefits will accrue not just to current stakeholders and audiences, but to generations to come—so that the impact of Celebrity Series will be felt in Boston and beyond for many years.”– Joshua Boger, Chair, Celebrity Series Board of Directors

In the spring on 2018, Celebrity Series will embark on an exciting campaign to strengthen the organization, catalyze artistic innovation, and deepen community engagement. This campaign will help build audiences to sustain the organization over the long term. The LIVE PERFORMANCE! Arts for All campaign aims to raise $23 million in three funds including the Endowment, Innovation, and Annual funds, making an enduring and positive impact on the arts in Boston. The impact will be on the stage, behind the stage, in the audience, and in the community. Comprised of classic endowment, a spend-down innovation fund, and annual funds, the campaign offers our donors unparalleled opportunity to catalyze artistic and organizational stability, impact, and innovation.

With your support, we can do great things.


We invite you to watch the video below to learn more.

Read the article from The Boston Globe

Read the article from The Boston Business Journal

View the full announcement press release here.


Dance, Main Stage

A Circa Aerialist Shares Her Top Tips For Warming Up Before A Performance


Circa Artist Bridie Hooper

Bridie Hooper tumbled into Spaghetti Circus at the age of 11, where her imagination became entirely unleashed. She was taught to bend, fly and dream, and at 16, Bridie ventured south to the banks of the Murray River to join the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

In 2008 Bridie bid Australian soils ‘adieu’ to complete her studies at the Montreal National Circus School where she also had the chance to perform in the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony, at Festival CIRCA, and in the Montreal Completement Cirque Festival in 2010 and 2011.

Upon graduating in 2012, Bridie toured Quebec with Vague de Cirque, performed in GOP Variété Dummy, and returned to Australia to work for Circa. Since then, Bridie has toured across America, Europe, and Australia and has participated in several new creations for Circa, including When One Door ClosesHumans, and One Beautiful Thing.

Bridie and the rest of the Circa crew roll into Boston for their third Celebrity Series engagement March 2-4 at the Boch Shubert Theatre.

Check out Bridie’s top tips for warming up and flexibility!

Circa Artist Bridie Hooper / Photo by Jordan Maxwell

My top warm up and conditioning tips are based on my body’s needs as an aerialist and contortionist.  My shoulders and back do a lot of work, so it’s important to keep them happy by doing lots of rehab and physiotherapy every day. Continue Reading

Main Stage

Rob Kapilow Talks Bernstein

Video Production: Kristín Otharsson

In honor of the centennial of his birth, Rob Kapilow examines the songs of Leonard Bernstein with contemporary works from Broadway of the era. With music from Bernstein’s early production Wonderful Town (1946) to Bernstein’s landmark musical, West Side Story (1957), and a few familiar Broadway favorites of the time, Kapilow and the brilliant young soprano, Jessica Rivera, explore the brilliant songwriting of this American master.

Hear more about the program from Kapilow himself, and join us at Sanders Theatre on Friday, March 9. Reserve your seats today!