Classical, Main Stage, Pianist, Piano

Pianist Inon Barnatan Makes His Much Anticipated Return to Celebrity Series

Photo: Marco Borggreve

New York Times praises pianist Inon Barnatan as “one of the most admired pianists of his generation,” while BBC Music is enthralled over this “superior playing, in which penetrating musicianship, compelling interpretive insight and elegant pianism achieve near-perfect equilibrium.” The recipient of both a prestigious 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant and Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, which recognizes “young artists of exceptional accomplishment,” Barnatan was recently named the new Music Director of the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest, beginning in 2019.

In his fifth Celebrity Series performance, on November 18 at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Barnatan brings a fascinating program inspired by the Baroque suite, which he calls “one of the earliest forms of instrumental music.”

Embarking on a musical journey to “explore how deeply connected music can be over a span of more than 300 years, and how each of these composers were able to simultaneously be inspired by the past and break free from it,” Barnatan will explore works ranging from Bach to Brahms as he mixes together time periods spanning centuries.

The first half of his program, which he calls a “Variation on a Suite,” assembles different movements of various works to piece together movements in the form of a Baroque suite. Bach is followed by Handel; Rameau and Couperin coexist with Ravel and Adès; Ligeti and Barber share the same space on stage.

“Each of the movements is by a different composer, each following the other without break,” he says.

The program then shifts to Brahms’s set of variations exploring a theme from a Handel keyboard suite in the second half.

“As a performer and listener I’ve always been fascinated by the conversations that music has across different eras,” he says. “I’m excited to be back to Boston this solo journey. I hope you enjoy this time-traveling adventure!”

Expect to be dazzled by Barnatan’s thought-provoking and inventive take!

Program:

Bach Toccata in E minor, BWV914
Handel Allemande from Suite in E Major, HWV430
Rameau Courante from Suite in A minor
Couperin L’Atalante
Ravel ‘Rigaudon’ from Le tombeau de Couperin
Adès Blanca Variations
Ligeti Musica Ricercata Nos. 10 and 11
Barber Fugue from Sonata in E-flat minor
Brahms Variations & Fugue on a Theme by Handel

Buy tickets for the performance.

Watch acclaimed pianist Inon Barnatan play Mendelssohn’s Rondo capriccioso in the historic Steinway & Sons Factory.

Arts for All, Boston Community, Jazz, Neighborhood Arts

Take a Walk With Me: A Bostonian Jazz Experience

By Angela Hyde

Jazz Along the Charles, September 23, 2018

Along this one-mile stretch of the DCR’s Charles River Esplanade, 25 jazz bands situate themselves beneath their white tents and the light clouds of the September Sunday. All of them are here for a singular purpose – to share their art of jazz, their cultural expressionism, with the Greater Boston community. Through a unique setlist compiled by composer, saxophonist, and bandleader Ken Field, each performance group was tasked with melding their own jazz style to the chosen songs.

These songs range not only in the composer but in original style and time period. All have one unifying subject though: the city of Boston.

The setlist was curated with our city in mind, the vibrant communities as well as the diverse peoples who make their homes here. This includes songs such as “Boston April 15th,” first debuted in 2003 and composed by Italian saxophonist Javier Edgardo Girotto, a student of Berklee College of Music. Pieces by Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, and even the song “Maria” from West Side Story are also featured throughout the day.

If you were to walk along any of the footbridges into the park, you would be greeted not only with the cool air off the water but with the bouncing notes of jazz. All around you, couples sitting, smiling both young and old. Maybe you see a pair practicing the samba on a boat dock. There are without a doubt children dancing in front of the band tents.

To your left, a crowd of onlookers applauds MIXCLA, a group with a fiery spirit and infectious smiles. Three bandmates; one on guitar, one on percussion and the third singing, playing piano. All three are playful but concentrated, showing off the duality of jazz – the great skill it takes as well as the happiness in bringing it to life.

Mixcla at Jazz long the Charles

MIXCLA

The trio of Berklee graduates play regularly in Boston’s local venues and specialize in Latin jazz. MIXCLA made their Celebrity Series debut as part of Stave Sessions in 2016 and return today for Jazz Along the Charles. Highly influenced by the rhythms of Cuba, Africa, Latin America, and Puerto Rican bomba, these talented musicians took the setlist of the day and made it their own. The first song of the day, “Dirty Water,” by Ed Cobb, was especially fun to hear MIXCLA adapt, with the singer scatting along with the beats of the percussionist and guitarist. The lyrics “down by the water,” could not be more appropriate as the band faces the Charles River, playing their hearts out for their fellow Bostonians.

Walking further down the path of the Esplanade, you’ll find a group that stands out from the rest, not only for their sound but for their look – they’re all middle school and high schoolers. Led by jazz band director, arranger, and manager of several bands, 15-year-old Cameron Shave regales the crowd with his talent on the trumpet. Onlookers are wowed at the versatility and maturity in style and sound. Shave takes us all on a musical joy-ride of emotions and excitement, all with the humble shyness of a teenage prodigy.

Funkacademy at Jazz Along the Charles

Funkacademy

His band Funkacademy certainly draws crowds – whether it be here at the Charles River or at his school performances when he plays as a pianist in local churches, or at the Berklee summer program, he has attended for the past two years. No matter the venue, one thing is for sure; Cameron Shave is an artist on the rise, and Celebrity Series of Boston is more than happy to foster that exciting talent.

In addition to up-and-comers like Shave, Jazz Along the Charles also showcases well-established Boston artists such as Jason Palmer.

Jason Palmer at the Jazz Along the Charles

Jason Palmer

This trumpeter has not only been named a top 25 trumpeter of the future by Downbeat Magazine, but has also performed with the likes of Roy Haynes, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ravi Coltrane, Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Common, Roy Hargrove, Lewis Nash, and more, is Assistant Professor at Berklee and Visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard, and has spent the past 15 years leading the house band every weekend at Boston’s historical Wally’s Jazz Cafe. Palmer also joins Celebrity Series’ Neighborhood Arts program this season, performing with his quintet at Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan on November 3 and at Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall on April 14 and with Shaw Pong Liu’s Code Listen 3.0 project at the Kroc Center in Dorchester on December 8.

A small white terrier named Boo rolls over for a tummy rub as Palmer’s band starts into the song “Boston” by Augustana – a popular pop song in the second half of the setlist, formed to the jazz melodies of this event and its musicians. Boo is just one of many four-legged friends enjoying the afternoon with their owners, the music seeming to connect all the onlookers, canine or human. Smiles erupt as the crowd recognizes the song, easily singing both aloud and in their heads: “I think I’ll go to Boston…”

Jazz Along the Charles is just the latest of Celebrity Series’ participatory public performance projects. These free events for the whole city get Celebrity Series out of the concert halls and into the public realm and have included Street Pianos Boston (2013 and 2016), Le Grand Continental (2014), and Let’s Dance Boston (2015 and 2017). At Jazz Along the Charles, even on a lightly clouded Sunday, there is a brightened path along the Charles River with this event having graced its sidewalks.

Jazz Along the Charles Esplanade

Concert goers gathered around the Esplanade


Angela Hyde is a College for Social Innovation Fellow in the fall of 2018. She is a senior at Wheaton College MA, pursuing a Writing Degree, with a minor in Journalism Studies. As an intern with the Advancement Department at Celebrity Series of Boston, Angela has the privilege of attending and covering Celebrity Series performances and community events.

All photos by Robert Torres.

Classical, Main Stage, New Music

American Contemporary Music Ensemble’s Clarice Jensen talks about founding the group, performing with Max Richter

Young contemporary string quartet

American Contemporary Music Ensemble, with Artistic Director Clarice Jensen playing cello. Photo by Mark Shelby.

On October 11, Celebrity Series will present the dynamic combination of composer and artist Max Richter with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) at the Berklee Performance Center.

Max Richter is probably most well-known for his work on film and TV soundtracks, like the Golden-Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated film Waltz With Bashir and Best Original Score for a Television Series at the 2014 International Film Music Critics Awards for The Leftovers. David Bowie once said of his music, “it has the power to produce tears.” Richter has embarked on a 10-city tour with ACME to perform music from his 2010 release, Infra, and his 2004 masterpiece The Blue Notebooks.

Recognized as a pioneering work that builds a bridge between styles of music, The Blue Notebooks connects the dots between a broad range of musical styles. Pitchfork called the album “one of the most affecting and universal contemporary classical records in recent memory.”

The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), led by cellist and Artistic Director Clarice Jensen, is dedicated to performing the masterworks of the 20th and 21st centuries, and relishes focusing on the works of living composers. The ensemble takes a variety of shapes and instrumentations as different works require. NPR calls them “contemporary music dynamos,” making the combination between Richter and ACME a thrilling venture for Boston audiences.

Clarice Jensen took a few moments to chat about the upcoming concert with Max Richter and how ACME was founded on the premise of flexible instrumentation and contemporary works.

Celebrity Series (CS): Why did you found the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME)?

Clarice Jensen (CJ): I started ACME to continue to work with composers and explore contemporary chamber music after finishing my Masters at Juilliard. For our first season, my sister Christina who is our manager and co-founder booked four concerts at a gallery space in Lower Manhattan. We did the same thing the next season but with each new season, we started adding more and more concerts. It was all quite organic the way it progressed and grew.

CS: Why did you decide to start an ensemble with flexible instrumentation?

CJ: There is so much repertoire for different instrumentations so it is nice to have the flexibility to not be tied to any single ensemble type. It is also nice to offer a variety of ensembles within one program, it really helps to shape an overall program and to vary the sounds and timbres the audience can experience.

CS: Why is it so important to play and listen to the music of living composers?

CJ: Any art form must continue to evolve and develop; there is no limit to what we as humans can explore, artistically and otherwise, so allowing the musical continuum to simply end is just not an option. In exploring new music, we not only push boundaries and create new work, but the work of old is also brought back (deliberately or subconsciously) in new and different ways too.

CS: How did you start working with Max Richter?

Composer Max Richter

Composer and instrumentalist Max Richter

CJ: We were introduced to Max by Ronen Givony for a Wordless Music Concert which is an exceptional series that Ronen curates in New York.

CS: What can the Boston audience expect during this performance? Are there any highlights we should keep our ears open for?

CJ: I’d say the Boston audience can expect to see and hear a performance of music we love very dearly, and we are all also quite fond of each other, so, there will be a lot of love on stage!

Boston Community, Dance, Jazz, Jazz Along the Charles, Public Performance

Jazz Along the Charles – A Walkable Concert: our newest public performance project

Jazz Along the Charles is just the latest example of Celebrity Series’ commitment to giving the people of Boston and beyond opportunities to participate in performance: to express themselves, to see performances in a different way, to get out on the dance floor and try something new! Celebrity Series President & Executive Director Gary Dunning shares what makes 2018’s Jazz Along the Charles – A Walkable Concert a unique opportunity and talks about previous public performance projects we’ve produced.

We know art and live performances enrich our lives. We see how the arts can bring a community together. What if we didn’t need to seek these opportunities out? Would our lives be richer if we just happened across public art and performances? What if we were able to encounter art in the course of our daily lives? If we could participate on a regular basis?

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Arts for All, Boston Community, Classical, Dance, Jazz, Neighborhood Arts, Vocalist, World Music

Celebrity Series Announces 2018-19 Neighborhood Arts Programming

Now entering its seventh season, Neighborhood Arts presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston brings the joy of live performance to people of all ages and abilities, drawing deeply on partnerships with Boston area artists and more than 60 community organizations to activate neighborhoods with a rich and varied array of opportunities. This season, Neighborhood Arts has expanded its offerings by 30% to present more than 140 events. The exciting offerings include interactive, hands-on workshops, artist residencies with youth ensembles, and free concerts in neighborhood venues, with a primary focus on six Boston neighborhoods: Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End.

“Neighborhood Arts shares the indescribable joy of live performance with Boston neighborhoods, through artist-led workshops, community concerts, and culminating events that feature youth who have participated in residencies with local artists,” says Robin Baker, Associate Director of Community Engagement. “Creating an original song or rhythm piece, choreographing a dance, or playing an arrangement tailor-made for your ensemble gives young people a sense of pride and confidence joyfully witnessed by their neighbors, families, and peers. Annual events such as Stringfests and choral collaborations feel like reunions when we return to the same “home base” venue in each neighborhood and re-connect with community ensembles and partners year after year.”

In 2018-19, Neighborhood Arts embraces the artistry of percussion, composition, dance, Latin/jazz, strings, and vocal music with professional artists and students performing side by side.

The dynamic roster of artists includes: Shaw Pong Liu (composer, violin, erhu), Devin Ferreira (hip-hop), Maria Finkelmeier (composer, percussion) and Bent Knee (rock), Ryan Edwards (composer, percussion), Jean Appolon (Haitian contemporary dance), Yo-El Cassell (contemporary dance and movement), Jorge Arce (Afro-Caribbean music), Veronica Robles and her mariachi ensemble (Latin music), Jason Palmer Quintet (jazz), Paul White (music director for Duke Ellington Sacred Jazz concerts), Castle of our Skins (celebrating Black artistry through music), Soul Yatra Trio (world music), Voci Angelica Trio (world music), and Guy Mendilow Ensemble (world music).

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Jazz, Jazz Along the Charles, Public Performance

Jazz Along the Charles Incorporates A Latin-American Rhythm

September 23 concert celebrates Boston’s diverse jazz community

 

Our Jazz Along the Charles: a walkable concert features strong international influences — particularly a Latin American flavor — on Sunday, September 23rd.  The free event invites the greater Boston community and visitors alike to walk along the scenic Charles River Esplanade and enjoy some of the region’s talented jazz musicians performing a curated set of songs that all harken back to our beloved Hub.

The 25 acts that will perform at “Jazz Along the Charles” encompass a wide range of styles and influences but for MIXCLA, Hiro Honshuku & Yuka Kido’s Love To Brasil Project and Choro JP the major inspiration is the flair throughout Latin American culture.  

Hiroaki Honshuku of the Love to Brasil Project described his partnership as such.  “Meeting Yuka Kido, who was a renowned flutist in Brazil and moved to Boston last spring, along with my decades of love to Brazilian music inspired our music.”  He continues, “it’s basically a jazz improvisation on various native Brazilian grooves. Everything I write is passed on the late George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept which is formed in modal jazz through (John) Coltrane and Miles (Davis).  The harmony is very unique and exciting.”

Man holding flute and woman holding two flutes sit on a park bench

Hiro Honshuku & Yuka Kido of the Love To Brasil Project

For Zahili Gonzalez Zamora of MIXCLA there is a Latin influence on songs from the American traditional songbook that are arranged in diverse Latin American styles.  Their own compositions combine playful Afro Cuban rhythms, interesting jazz harmonies and singing as a way of contributing to the canon of innovative Afro Cuban music.

“We primarily listen to a wide range of Cuban composers and arrangers in the Classical, Afro Cuban Jazz, Timba and Rumba genres”, Zamora says. “From pioneers such as Jose Maria Vitier and Emiliano Salvador, to much younger generations of outstanding musicians such as Ernan Lopez Nussa, Alain Perez, and Osain del Monte.”

For Catherine Bent’s Choro JP, the approach combines styles, “when Africa’s rhythms went ballroom dancing in Brazil nothing would ever be the same again!”  The Berklee faculty member and classically trained cellist started playing choro, the infectious Brazilian hybrid of European dance music and African rhythms, while in graduate school. Following this initial interest, she dove deep into the tradition and went on to spend many months in Rio de Janeiro building her repertoire in jam sessions and alongside masters of the genre.  

The zest of a Latin influence is simply one component, but it’s a spicy one. So many diverse ingredients are sure to make Jazz Along the Charles a special afternoon.  Twenty-five jazz ensembles at a series of connected, walkable locations along the Charles River Esplanade interpreting a curated list of Boston-related tunes in one collective concert might be the ultimate showcase of a truly great jazz community in a diverse and exciting city.  

Top photo: MIXCLA. All photos by Robert Torres.

Arts for All, Jazz, Jazz Along the Charles, Public Performance, Special Events

Meet Ken Field, curator for Jazz Along the Charles

When Ken Field was first contacted by Jack Wright, Director of Marketing and Communications here at the Celebrity Series of Boston, it did not come as a total surprise.  The two are both on the board of Jazz Boston and Field has an experienced reputation as a composer, bandleader, musician, event organizer, and radio host.  So, it made sense that he’d be offered the opportunity to curate a setlist for Jazz Along the Charles – A Walkable Concert.    

“The goal was to select music that was related in some way to Boston, whether based on the title, composer, subject matter, or artist,” Field recalls of his initial actions in considering that some 25 ensembles would be playing his choices.  “I also wanted to be sure that the material would lend itself to improvisational jazz performance, such that it could be interpreted by each performing ensemble in their own way.”

Along those lines, he began by simply jotting down ideas as they came to him but soon he was reaching out to colleagues in the Boston jazz scene.    

“I asked for suggestions from people like local jazz radio hosts, Jon Pollack and Brother Wayne, and jazz historian and presenter Rob Chalfen,” Field says. “ Of course I also consulted with folks from Celebrity Series to make sure that I was in sync with their vision for the event.”

What he and his collaborators arrived at was a varied collection that veers from jazz standards to more contemporary songs.

Field speaks to traditional jazz with “I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)” which remains a Duke Ellington classic.  

“This Ellington song is often associated with alto sax player, Johnny Hodges, who was one of Duke’s favored soloists. Hodges was born in Cambridge, and raised on Putnam Avenue. His family later moved to Hammond Street in Boston’s South End.”

The inclusion of Boston’s beloved Morphine speaks further to the local ideal.

“Mark Sandman’s Cambridge-based group Morphine was an international sensation in the 1990’s,” he said of the inclusion of their song, ‘The Night.’”  The surviving band members have continued performing as Vapors of Morphine after Sandman’s tragic demise while performing on stage near Rome, Italy in 1999.  That leads to the choice of an even more current band, Augustana, and their song, “Boston.”

“’Boston’ is a song by a California rock band, Augustana, from their debut album, ‘All the Stars and Boulevards,’ that was released in 2005 . The song propelled the group to national prominence when it was used on the television show, ‘One Tree Hill,’ and was later also featured on ‘Scrubs,’ ‘Big Bang Theory’ and a few others,” explained Field.  

“It was definitely a goal to include a diverse collection of material from diverse artists and composers, addressing style and period,” he expounded.  “Another goal was to include a mix of well-known and lesser-known pieces.”

Having put so much time into preparing for the event, he can now quite simply enjoy this truly unique event.

“I look forward to being surprised and delighted by a wide range of interpretations and treatments of this collection of music by some wonderful and incredibly creative improvisational jazz musicians!,” he enthused.

Photo by Robert Torres.

News

Thank you for a great season!

With another successful season in the books, we want to thank you for making everything we do possible.

Thank you for helping us fill performance halls all over town, and thanks for being there for all the magical moments: all the thunderous ovations, all the thrilling solos, all the bravura performances.

Thank you for helping us achieve our fourth straight fiscal year with an operating surplus and achieve a 4-star Charity Navigator rating as a non-profit organization.

Thank you for helping us celebrate our 50th year of presenting Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater with a series of panels, interactive workshops that brought Revelations to life, and great performances.

Thank you for helping us offer 198 community engagement events, distribute over 4,000 free and discounted tickets to children, students, and families, and engage 695 artists from 25+ countries around the world across our mainstage and Arts for All! programs.

We have so much to celebrate and we could not do it without your help. Check out our season in review video to relive a few of our best moments of the 2017-18 season, and we can’t wait to see you in the new season!

Main Stage, Uncategorized

Staff Picks for the 2018-19 Season

Here it is – the eagerly anticipated Staff Picks! Dive into our staff’s favorites and discover what we’re excited about for the 2018-19 season.

 

Alan Cumming
Legal Immigrant
October 7, 2018
Symphony Hall

Our 2017-18 season started with a roar with Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. His performance was nothing short of electric. From his delightfully improbable and earnestly interpreted renditions of contemporary pop ballads like Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” to his rousing and unexpected spins on Broadway classics like “Ladies Who Lunch,” Mr. Cumming had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. I’m sure that we’re in store for an explosive evening at Symphony Hall when Alan Cumming returns to the Celebrity Series with Legal Immigrant.     – Jonathan Carpenter, Technology Operations Manager

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
October 12, 2018
NEC’s Jordan Hall

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is a special institution to me – theirs was the first recording I’d ever heard of Mozart’s Requiem (this may be the same for others – the orchestra recorded the soundtrack to the movie Amadeus).  I was a 14 year old Jazz musician willfully unaccustomed to Classical music but with a Mozartean friend serious about sharing his passion. Hearing the heavy, languorous, intensely emotional interpretation of the first movement from Neville Marriner and his orchestra changed me and spurred a new obsession. That 1991 recording is still my favorite with modern instruments, and nostalgia dictates a gleeful response every time I hear their long and delightful name spoken. The orchestra is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. Seeing such condensed virtuosity in the form of this small ensemble will be a joy.     – Connor Buckley, Accounts Payable and Payroll Coordinator

OK Go: The Live Video Tour
November 2, 2018
Berklee Performance Center

“We want to see the band that makes a mess!” It’s a phrase that I hear numerous times a day: my 3 ½ year old twins are OBSESSED with OK Go videos. I’ve been aware of OK Go for ages, and made sure to check out their videos on YouTube as they went viral, but have never truly appreciated the band until recently. And as I’ve learned more about this particular show, part of their Live Video Tour, I’m getting more and more excited for it.

OK Go will play live alongside their videos, and will talk (and take questions) about the feats of physics, endurance, precision timing, and engineering that go into their projects. OK Go have also recently launched a project – OK Go Sandbox – to help educators (who are a huge part of the fanbase, apparently!) incorporate their videos into lesson plans and class materials to spark students’ ideas and foster a sense of wonder about science and engineering. Accordingly, this performance will be family-friendly, for fans young and old who love “the band that makes a mess.”     – Gillian Morrison, Associate Director of Marketing

 

Lizz Wright and Lean on Me: José James Celebrates Bill Withers
January 25, 2019
Berklee Performance Center

Simply put… This will be the funkiest engagement for Celebrity Series during the 2018-19 season. It really should be sold out, and even if you are not familiar with the performers, this will just be an all around good time with classic Bill Withers songs being performed by José James.

You love Bill Withers. We all do. Even if you don’t consciously know it, you love Bill Withers. If life gets stressful, when times get tough, and if there are periods of life filled with loss… Trust me – there is a Bill Withers song that’ll both slay and heal your soul.

As an audience, we all should recognize R&B/Soul royalty because it is rare. Bill Withers is certainly royalty in the genre, and José is perhaps on his way to establishing legendary status as a live performer. Bill Withers’ catalogue deserves to be celebrated, and with José James, I believe this particular Celebrity Series concert will be jubilant.     – Alec Bleday, Major Gifts Officer

Nederlands Dans Theater 2
January 26-27, 2019
Boch Center Shubert Theatre

I am thrilled about the Nederlands Dans Theater 2’s performances this season. Attending dance performances is always a highlight for me, as I can experience the performance with fresh eyes, not having worked on the operational details of the performance. This past year I visited Amsterdam and fell in love with the beauty of the city, the culture and the people. I cannot wait to immerse myself in the magic of the Netherlands transported to Boston.    – Katherine Ludington, Associate Manager of Performance Operations

Mark Morris Dance Group
Pepperland
February 8-10
Boch Center Shubert Theatre

I’m so excited about Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland coming to Boston.  As a huge fan of both the Beatles and MMDG’s beautiful interpretations of classical music and form, combined with a contemporary score by Ethan Iverson, is a must-see.  It should hold unique appeal and fun for dancers, lovers of chamber music and contemporary music with 60’s psychedelic costumes.  And what in the world is a theremin? Guess I’ll find out!     – Robin Baker, Senior Manager of Community Engagement

Alisa Weilerstein
Complete Bach Cello Suites
February 15, 2019
NEC’s Jordan Hall

Alisa Weilerstein returns to Celebrity Series on February 15 to perform all six of Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites, in one evening at Jordan Hall. Born in 1982 and the daughter of legendary Cleveland Quartet first violinist and teacher Donald Weilerstein, Alisa Weilerstein has already established herself as one of the great cellists of her generation, winning the MacArthur genius award in 2011 and performing around the globe with the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles. Now she takes on the Bach cello suites and will perform all six in one evening, a tremendous undertaking that Weilerstein herself describes as akin to transcendental meditation.

In perusing Weilerstein’s biography, I found this gem: “Weilerstein discovered her love for the cello at just two and a half, when her grandmother assembled a makeshift set of instruments from cereal boxes to entertain her while she was ill with chicken pox. Although immediately drawn to the Rice Krispies box cello, Weilerstein soon grew frustrated that it didn’t produce any sound. After persuading her parents to buy her a real cello at the age of four, she developed her natural affinity for the instrument and gave her first public performance six months later.”

I grew up immersed in classical music, and Yo-Yo Ma’s recording of the Bach cello suites was a mainstay of my childhood. As a young singer at the Aspen Music Festival, one of my roommates was a violinist who studied with Weilerstein’s father, and I heard many stories of Mr. Weilerstein’s generosity and passion. I am now the mother of an eight-year-old cellist, who at age four, walked into a room full of musical instruments, pointed at the cello, and said, “I want to play THAT.”

There is something about the cello that resonates with the soul. Alisa Weilerstein is taking on the work of a great master, and in so doing, sharing her own mastery with all of us. I am so thrilled that Celebrity Series audiences will have the opportunity to witness it, perhaps including one eight-year-old young lady with stars in her eyes. I can’t wait.     – Sarah Long Holland, Associate Director of Institutional Giving

Beatrice Rana
February 27, 2019
Longy’s Pickman Hall

The Cliburn, held every four years in Fort Worth, Texas, is a piano competition whose laureates dominate the world’s stages. In 1966, the competition awarded first prize to Radu Lupu, who has become one of the great artists of the 20th and 21st centuries; but more recent laureates, like Vadym Kholodenko, Olga Kern, and Yeol Eum Son, have also become revered performers even in the short times since their Cliburn debuts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend concerts by Kern and Joyce Yang (gold medalist in 2001 and silver medalist in 2005, respectively), but have been waiting five years to hear Beatrice Rana, who in 2013 (at twenty years old) won the silver medal in the competition’s fourteenth edition. My move from Seattle to Boston came one year too soon, so I missed her debut out west; this past Spring, I had to listen to my friends in Toronto rave about her performance up north. Needless to say, I am thrilled to finally have the chance to hear Ms. Rana in Boston in her Celebrity Series debut this coming February.

From the recordings of hers I’ve heard, I especially admire her ability to balance exquisite lyricism and sense of line with ferocity and spark, qualities which I am sure we will hear in her ambitious program of Chopin, Ravel, and Stravinksy/Agosti. I can hardly wait!     – Andrew Barnwell, Advancement Intern

Sō Percussion
Drumming
March 28, 2019
Sanders Theatre

This season I’m personally most excited to hear Sō Percussion perform the evening-length work ‘Drumming” by Steve Reich. It is a rare treat to experience the full piece live. One of the most interesting and virtuosic elements of the piece is the technique of rhythmic ‘phasing’ – when two players start in a unison rhythm while one either slows down or speeds up. The effect is magical, and can create a myriad of psychoacoustic illusions. From a performance perspective, this massive work is some of the most challenging repertoire in the percussion literature and there’s likely no group performing today that is better suited to it than Sō Percussion.     – Jesse Limbacher, Acting Box Office Manager

Batsheva Dance Company
Venezuela
April 5-6, 2019
Boch Center Shubert Theatre

Nothing more exciting than a Boston premiere; especially when it’s a renowned company like Batsheva Dance Company!  Their evening-length work, Venezuela, shows us how music, lighting, energy, and mood can influence how we interpret the world around us, since the same physical movements will be used in both halves of the piece. I’m so excited for the conversations it will inspire after the performance!     – Nicole Williams, Audience Services Associate

The Spring Quartet
Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding, and Leo Genovese
April 14, 2019
Berklee Performance Center

When you put together an all-star ensemble, there’s always a chance that egos will collide. The Spring Quartet strikes the perfect balance musically and temperamentally with veteran jazzers Jack DeJohnette (drums) and Joe Lovano (saxophones) providing the group’s foundation while Esperanza Spaulding (bass) and Leonardo Genovese (piano/keyboard) push the boundaries. It’s a joy to watch all four of these musicians speak to each other with deference and respect, and to watch them perform as a well-oiled machine on stage.     – Sarah Cronin, Senior Manager of Performance Operations

Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk, and Steven Isserlis
April 28, 2019
Symphony Hall

Virtuosic, slightly academic, all around adventurous and exciting! Growing up, all I ever heard about from my string friends was how amazing Joshua Bell is as a performer. Pair him up with Jeremy Denk, who gave, in my opinion, one of the best performances of the season last year and Steven Isserlis, a profound musician whose playing is so distinct and masterful, and you’ve got yourself a can’t miss performance. Bonus – all three musicians have a great sense of humor (just check out Steven Isserlis’ website) so you know that they will have so much fun on stage too!     – Erica Leung Lawless, Associate Director of Advancement