By Bill Marx
In the age of COVID-19, Arts Fuse critics have come up with a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, and music — mostly available by streaming — for the coming weeks. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Present Distractions in Film
It was not that long ago that I would be struck dumb when I walked into a Hollywood Video (or Blockbuster) and gazed at the racks of VHS tapes and upcoming DVDs. Now the choices are even more plentiful and — with social distancing and staying at home de rigueur — the time for viewing is mercilessly open ended. Bored with the predicable range of offerings on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Showtime, and Amazon Prime? Here are nine recommendations for adventurous streaming. Feel free to add your own outlets via a comment. There is a PART II.
MUBI: For a monthly fee Mubi offers a new film every day — and it stays up for 30 days. So there are always 30 hand-picked films to watch or download. The wild and wonderful selection includes forgotten, cult, foreign, and experimental films as well as award-winning masterpieces. A highlight: curator Nicolas Winding Refn has restored some strange B and exploitation films from the Grindhouse era.
CRITERION CHANNEL: For discerning cinephiles, this subscription service offers classic films from Criterion’s renowned collection. There is a featured movies every day, curated playlists, and extra content made up of excellent interviews and analyses.
LE CINEMA CLUB: This is a curated, free streaming platform — supported by CHANEL — that screens a new film every week. It remains up for seven days. Selections vary in genre and length, with special attention given to short formats.
TOP DOCUMENTARY FILMS: There are more than 3,000 free documentaries available here, and they are organized into 25 different categories, searchable by keywords, sortable by rating, comments, and titles. There is new documentary selection every other day.
OPEN CULTURE: This site brings together difficult to find cultural & educational media scattered across the web. Their mission is to gather together this kind of elusive content, curate it, and provide access. You do not have to join or install anything. Note: There are no ads! Free Online Courses; Lectures
INDIEFLIX: For a low monthly fee IndieFlix offers streaming services that promote and support films dedicated to creating positive change in the world. This screening service also books offline community screenings in schools, corporations, and communities.
KANOPY: A marvelous deal! This award-winning video streaming service is available with just a library card. It provides access to a remarkable (and free) collection of more than 30,000 independent and documentary films. The titles in Kanopy are drawn from The Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, Media Education Foundation, and thousands of independent filmmakers.
TUBI: This streaming service is free, serving up on-demand content of over 15,000 movies and television series. Be warned: it is an ad-supported service, with commercials popping up during unskippable breaks. This is the largest independently owned video service in the United States.
Between books and Zoom gatherings, there are many sites for the weary and homebound to sample. Short form videos include news, politics, profiles, human interest stories and more. These are quickly consumed and mostly well produced. Free feature films are also available. Local Independent theaters are streaming and can use our support.
More stay-at-home possibilities:
WGBH: There are links to American Experience, Frontline, Nova, and education programming. The site’s Arts Link offers arts coverage, documentaries, studio concerts, as well as links to literary adaptations. Plenty to explore here.
The Brattle Theatre: The Brattle is offering links to several categories of film via its Virtual Repertory Series. They have a great Keep Your Distance Program of links to film classics. The Docyard will continue their program of documentaries with talk-backs via Zoom. Donations to the Brattle are welcome: they are needed as they continue to pay their workers.
The New York Times: You will find short videos, including news updates, investigations, profiles. The offers are efficiently organized in a grid by category.
The New Yorker: The magazine has been creating an array of videos for years. There is a page by Genre, a most Popular page, and original Series page. They also have their own video series available on Amazon called New Yorker Presents.
Boston Globe: The newspaper has a YouTube Channel that features an interesting and varied collection of short features.
Washington Post: The newspaper offers concise and informative videos (one to five minutes) on news and politics.
Variety: If show business is your bag there is much to see and hear at this website (no subscription required). For fans of movie performers, Actors on Actors offers provocative pairings of actors interviewing one another and discussing their craft.
Boston Underground Film Festival: The Festival was canceled, but BUFF has assembled a Buff-o-Stream where you can access their best in “unconventional stories, idiosyncratic voices, fever dreams, nightmarish visions, and all manner of cinematic form.”
YouTube Classic Films: Here is a list of 45 cinema classics in the public domain, many rarely seen, that are available for absolutely free on YouTube.
Recommendation: Last week I recommended Kanopy as a resource available with a library card that features a good, non-commercial collection of films. They are currently offering the controversial Errol Morris documentary American Dharma. This profile of Steve Bannon is an artfully stylized portrait of the controversial political strategist and former Donald Trump adviser. It gives him just enough rope to . . . well, you get the idea.
Places to Find the Best Video Essays on Film: Video essays have been characterized as “the articulation of thought in audiovisual form.”
More Virtual Attractions
The local independent theaters are up and running with online films and supplementary offerings like seminars, Q&As, and links to curated suggestions. AFI has a screening room and EventBright constantly offers new events. The streaming services can be confusing so to sort out So I have added short descriptions to each link
There are also Facebook offerings and discussions of available films continually being listed. Fuse critic Gerald Perry and Amy Geller offer their latest film The Rabbi Goes West online, with the bonus of a discussion on May 31st with the subjects of the film. Proceeds go to the Independent Film Festival of Boston.
The Coolidge has stepped up with a savvy selection of recent films. They are also doing seminars and discussions. Your virtual participation will help keep the theater alive. On May 18 there will be a Q&A with the director and writer of Driveways (Arts Fuse review). There is also a Twentieth Century Women Documentary Series.. Recent selections and seminars are listed on their Home Page
The Brattle also has an excellent selection of films both past and present in their Virtual Screening Room. Its Virtual Repertory Series includes Women in SCi-Fi, Y’Know for the Kids, and links for a series they call #BreakYourAlgorithm
This is a fairly robust selection of recent films curated by day and for a fee. It’s like a multi-plex in your home. New this week — Godard’s Band of Outsiders.
It is difficult to list all the events, seminars, and screenings that have moved online. This link offers an overview of offerings available through this event site. Scroll and discover! Some are at a cost; others are free.
There are so many options and choices within options. Below is an attempt to sort out some helpful information in grappling with the deluge of possibilities.
Netflix boasts a deep bench of titles from classic genre films all the way up to seasons of television shows that are still airing. You can access their website and stream from there or use the app on your smartphone/device. Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, Roku, Firestick, major smart TV brands and more and more.
This is probably the trickiest of all the streaming services. There is some amazing original content here and another plus — its services make cutting the cable cord seamless. You can still watch your major network shows in a reasonable amount of time after their first airing. 4 Plans
$5.99 – Access to all of Hulu’s content both original and sourced — but requires watching ads
$11.99 – No ads: includes access to all of Hulu’s content both original and sourced
$54.99 – Hulu (with ads) and Live TV streams
$60.99 – Hulu with no ads + Live TV
If your family is already using Amazon for books, groceries and more, you get the added benefit of being able to enjoy movies with endless options for streaming. Some are included and others come for a fee: $12.99 – Monthly, $119.00 – Yearly.
Decades upon decades of movies, television, and live events fit for families or for those seeking nostalgia. There are price tiers and options.
HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service that doesn’t require a cable TV package. HBO GO comes with a paid cable TV subscription that includes HBO. More comparisons are listed here.
Lots is included: films and series content (like the excellent This Much I Know is True), sporting events like HBO’s signature boxing series as well as older original series like The Sopranos or Barry.
$5.99 with ads, $9.99 ad free. You get all the great CBS series plus online specials like the revamp of The Twilight Zone or the new Star Trek series, Picard. And then there are the time-honored news shows like 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning. You can get the stand alone app, or add into another app, such as Amazon Prime.
Premium Movie Channels
$8 to $19. Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, etc. You can download an app and watch these or sprinkle them into one of the larger services.
Free with ads. Some really great movie options and a nice interface. If you don’t mind a few commercials mixed into your watching experience, this is one of your least expensive options!
Free with ads. Their streaming service is small compared to others, but they have some wonderful and exclusive deals. Movies, TV shows, and more are all available. It is integrated into Amazon Prime, so it is easy to use.
Like a mini version of Amazon Prime with a touch of IMDBTV. You can buy and rent content (including a stellar UPC to Digital option). There are no monthly subscription rates, but to watch a lot of great content you will have to put up with ads.
Warner Brothers, which owns HBO, will be launching its new streaming service on May 27. Just like Disney+, this will be a site with plenty of content. The studio has produced material for all the major TV networks — plus there is movie content that spans decades.
NBC Universal saw how many people were watching NBC programming on the other services. This is in soft release with a full release coming on July 15.
— Tim Jackson
To honor nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, Kino Lorber is offering a free streaming re-release of the acclaimed documentary The American Nurse , directed by Carolyn Jones.
This excellent 2014 documentary “explores some of the biggest issues facing America — aging, war, poverty, prisons — through the work and lives of five nurses. It is an examination of real people that will change how we think about nurses and how we wrestle with the challenges of healing America.”
Stunning landscapes of the American west! The world’s funniest Hasidic rabbi? And yes, Jews in Montana! It’s a special 12-day online screening of The Rabbi Goes West, May 24 through June 4, presented by filmmakers Amy Geller and Gerald Peary (Arts Fuse film critic) in partnership with the beloved Independent Film Festival of Boston. Pre-order the film here: https://bit.ly/rabbionline
And sign up for the FREE LIVE Q&A on Sunday, May 31, 8 p.m. EST with the filmmakers and stars, Rabbi Chaim Bruk and Chavie Bruk. https://bit.ly/rabbiRSVP
— Bill Marx
Lest We Forget: Kofi Burbridge, begins streaming May 1 online at LestWeForgetMusicians.com.
A new 30-minute documentary on keyboard and flute player Kofi Burbridge, a brilliant genre-busting musician who died in 2019 at age 57. The documentary features interviews with Burbridge’s bandmates in the Tedeschi Trucks Band, which he helped found with guitarists Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi and performed with until the time of his death from complications from heart surgery. A variety of players that Burbridge collaborated with during his extensive career, including his brother, Oteil, also weigh in. A portion of the $1.98 streaming fee is being donated to the Music Matters program supported by Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.
— Scott McLennan
May 18 at 7 p.m. EST
You may have caught the engaging pianist and composer Layfayette Gilchrist’s music on the HBO series The Deuce or as part of saxophonist David Murray’s bands, or in his own bands with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Eric Kennedy. Gilchrist has a knack for hard-bop bluesy strut and tunefulness as well as broad historic reach that easily crosses genres, from go-go to Ravel. He performs in his home town of Baltimore as part of the An Die Musik Hall’s Quarantine Concert Series. Tickets are $5 and include “tuning into the live stream as well as a concert link valid for one week after the performance. “
Jazz Hero Award
May 23 at 7 p.m. EST
Pianist, composer, and educator Ran Blake will receive a Jazz Hero award from the Jazz Journalists Association in a live-streamed event on May 23. The event will include a solo piano performance by Blake as well as an interview conducted by jazz writer and JJA board member Bob Blumenthal. Blake is “one of 27 jazz heroes in 23 cities across the country chosen as ‘activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz.’ ” The event is being presented in conjunction with the New England Conservatory, where Blake, 85, has taught for 52 years. We’ve given you the lowdown on Blake many times before at the Arts Fuse, but suffice to say his profound explorations have been a sensation ever since his debut release, The Newest Sound Around, with singer Jeanne Lee, on RCA, in 1961, and his work (most recently on record in duo albums with Dominique Eade, Sara Serpa, and Christine Correa), remain stirring and vital. You can register for the free stream of the event here.
Fred Hersch at Home
Mondays at 1 p.m. EST
Pianist and composer Fred Hersch began the lockdown in New York City by offering a free “Tune of the Day” Facebook performance from his living room. Now he’s retooled for the long haul of wherever this pandemic is taking us, realizing that “it may be up to a year or more before people are comfortable sitting in a jazz club or a concert hall.” So Hersch has taken his act to Patreon, offering a subscription series for as little as $5 a month, which includes a 15-20 minute Monday afternoon live concert that is then archived and available for later viewing. “Each mini-concert,” Hersch writes, “will have a unifying theme. There will be three selections, which could be music of a certain composer; songs from a particular era or country; new material I have learned for that concert; original compositions that I have not played in many years; or other themes I will come up with as this goes along.”
Fridays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. EST
The Boston-based pianist, whose Keep Talkin’ trio disc was one of my favorites of 2019, has been performing free live solo shows from her Cambridge home via Facebook every Friday and Saturday at 9. Miwa’s blog is also a good source of links for live jazz performances, from Jazz at Lincoln Center to Ron Carter’s home and beyond.
— Jon Garelick
The Living,by Anthony Clarvoe. Directed by Benny Sato Ambush. A Free Virtual Play Reading produced by Theater of the Blue Marble, underwritten by The Arts Fuse. A benefit for Boston’s Theatre Community Benevolent Fund. The reading premieres on May 27 at 7 p.m. EDT. After that it will be available 24/7 via recording for an additional three days through May 30, which will allow for more contributions to be made to the TCBF.
A first for The Arts Fuse: the magazine is underwriting a free virtual play reading of The Living, a powerful play (written in 1991, first produced in 1993) that has some strikingly perceptive things to say about our current bedeviled situation, its challenges to our politics and our humanity. Donations for Boston’s Theatre Community Benevolent Fund will be encouraged.
“The past speaks meaningfully to the present in Anthony Clarvoe’s riveting examination of London society’s response to the Great Bubonic Plague of 1665. A prescient moral and cautionary tale with lessons for today’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic era, The Living chronicles the conditions, challenges, societal fault lines, foibles, and triumphs during the 1665 scourge, eerily similar to our current day crisis. With beautifully crafted language and compelling poignancy, The Living unveils the tests and tolls on all facets of London society.” The first-rate cast is made up of Nael Nacer, Anne Gottlieb, Ken Cheeseman, Doug Lockwood, Marya Lowry, Lewis D. Wheeler, Ed Hoopman, Diego Arciniegas, Maurice Parent, Michael Tow, and Samantha Richert. Music by Dewey Dellay.
Apollinaire at Home, a free online play & film script reading gathering (by video meeting), for the coming weeks.
Your chance to become part of the show — from the safety of your couch! An enterprising idea that revolves around an inclusive staged reading: viewers are invited to read the script, choose their favorite parts and, if their names are drawn, to become part of the production. You can just sit watch if you wish. Note from the company: “No worries if you are not among the technologically gifted. We’re as new to this as you are, and there’s sure to be some glitchiness at first, but with a bit of humor and perseverance we’ll make this work!” Check the website for this week’s readings.
Check out the organization’s Facebook page for upcoming performances, which will include The Book of Pooh: Stories from the Heart and Xperimental Puppetry Theater.
Boston Theater Marathon XXII: Special Zoom Edition, through May 17
“This year’s BTM was intended to be a homecoming of sorts — it was to be the first time the event had been held at our home theatre on Comm Ave. since BTM VI in 2004. (The Boston Theater Marathon was held at the Huntington Theatre’s Virginia Wimberly Theatre from 2005-2019.)”
“So instead of honoring our past, times dictate that we try something new. This year, we will offer Boston Theater Marathon XXII: Special Zoom Edition, with the goal to foster community and benefit the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund (the beneficiary of the annual BTM) and area theatre companies.”
The Buck Rogers version of the re-vamped Marathon is ingenious: “a 10 minute play by a New England playwright will be presented at noon through May 17. Audiences who dial in to the event will be encouraged to donate to participating theatre companies and/or to the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund. Links to individual theatre companies and the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund will be available each day on the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre home page (www.BostonPlaywrights.org) and via the Zoom interface itself.”
“Readings will begin each day at 12 noon and will last approximately 15-minutes. Audiences will need to download the free Zoom app to participate, and it is recommended they call in a few minutes before “curtain” time.”
In response to the COVID-19 quarantine, Arlekin Players Theatre will present a weekly series of online events. On May 17, Arlekin will offer a one night Gala performance featuring its company of artists and an online auction. Finally, the company will offer LIVE staged readings on both May 24 and 31, with recordings of each offered for viewing throughout the week. All programming will be offered free of charge for viewing audiences, with a suggested donation.
Now Arlekin Players Theater is offering State vs Natasha Banina, a newly-conceived, world premiere, live, theatre art experiment directed by Igor Golyak based on Yaroslava Pulinovich’s Natasha’s Dream and featuring Arlekin company member Darya Denisova. “In State vs Natasha Banina, a girl tells the story of her life in a small-town orphanage, and her desire to be free; break out of her world. From the inside of a “ZOOM” courtroom, she will make twists and turns through her unique appeal to audiences as the jurors, letting them into her world where she dreams about love, family, acceptance, adjusting and her future. Ultimately the two worlds collide and the audience gets to decide her fate.”
Dancers have a track record of being creative when it comes to constraints – and some mini-performances by local artists are starting to appear on virtual platforms.
Beloved local choreographer Brian Crabtree moved to Maine in the past year or so, but is sheltering in place with a friend in the Boston area. His seated solo, tagged as “what I did on my staycation” beautifully works with his body’s limits, the narrow space, and the music’s expansiveness.
— Debra Cash
24-Hour ChoreoFest Show #3: TRI-STATE AREA
12-8 p.m.: Live-streamed creation period and interviews
8 p.m.: Live-streamed performance and Q&A
Luminarium Dance Company & Monkeyhouse are thrilled to produce the seventh 24-Hour ChoreoFest, which takes place over four Saturdays in the month of May, each featuring a new regional group of choreographers. The third performance features choreographers Tyron Howard, Jessica Lynch, and Moriah Ella Mason, all hailing from the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania). Viewers are invited to watch the creative process unfold and enjoy interviews with regional arts organizations live online from 12-8 p.m.; and/or view the culminating performance at 8 p.m.. This project is part of Monkeyhouse’s Covid Collaborations sponsored by the Miner Nagy Family Gift Fund
Memorial Day Dining In & Dance Viewing
May 25 from 2:30-4 p.m. EST
Register in advance
Looking for a new way to celebrate this Memorial Day? Boston Dance Theater has you covered with this creative synchronous event! Follow along in your own kitchen as Boston-based chef (and 2019 Chopped Champion) Fernanda Tapia prepares South American cuisine, then dine in while viewing a recording of Boston Dance Theater’s recent performances.
Luminarium’s TEN4TEN Show #3: “BEYOND DANCE”
Viewable now through May 30
Luminarium continues to present its TEN4TEN Performance Series celebrating its tenth anniversary season with curated shows every two weeks, highlighting its award-winning repertory spanning 2010 to present. Be sure to tune in soon because every two weeks the current “performance” will be removed, with a new one in its place! This week’s online performance features early examples of Luminarium Dance Company’s interdisciplinary take on community engagement. Enjoy choreographic collaborations that go “beyond dance” with the New England Quilt Museum (2013) and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art (2015); witness Luminarium’s 24-Hour ChoreoFest creation (2014); and reminisce over the company’s Night at the Tower project, which received the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s coveted Gold Star Award (2014).
Resource for Live-Streamed Classes
Looking for Live Dance Classes? Studio 550 has created a new platform (Artist2Artist) to keep dancers active, engaged, and informed. Visit the link above to learn more and search for live-streamed classes, while staying connected to the Boston dance community!
The One I Keep
View the film
Boston’s own Luminarium Dance Company made international news this week. One of Artistic Director Merli V. Guerra’s earlier works, The One I Keep (2013), was screened at Europa Film Festival (Barcelona, Spain), in which it was honored to receive the “Best Experimental” film category award! The film has previously been featured in international festivals and periodicals including: WomenCinemakers – Special Edition (Berlin, Germany), ViDEOSKiN (Yukon, Canada), Cefalù Film Festival (Palermo, Italy), and the Women in Dance Leadership Conference (Philadelphia, PA, USA).
Kieran Jordan has made available to the public her full-evening production Little Gifts, which incorporated visual art, live music, and Irish dance. The piece originally debuted at Green Street Studios in 2016. “The whole point of this show was to celebrate small things,” explains Jordan, “brief moments of mystery in nature, a favorite tune, or delightfully-detailed dance steps. This show was about ‘less-is-more’ … one of my favorite themes to ponder, especially as it relates to Irish dance. It’s about zooming in on what is delicate and precious, fleeting, yet enduring.”
Valerie Green/Dance Entropy’s “Utopia”
Ongoing Online Performance
For those interested in seeing what Valerie Green/Dance Entropy has been up to in New York, the company is currently offering a sliding-scale donation option in order to view its recent collaboration with visual artist Keren Anavy online. The new work, Utopia, “questions whether Utopia might be an internal place, investigated through personal and intimate moments and alongside the community.” Note: A donation must be made to receive the link to view this work.
Join the conversation
Long before the outbreak of COVID-19, choreographer Ashton Waldron sought to globalize dance and the human experience through her thesis work as an MFA in Dance candidate at Rutgers University. Today, she has launched her project publicly for the first time — a triptych screendance work comprising “This Is Me,” “This Is You,” and “This Is Us.” In this time of global separation, the release of the MeYouUs project is perfectly timed, and Waldron actively invites viewers to join the conversation by completing a brief survey following the film.
Jacob’s Pillow’s “Embedded Trios”
Now streaming online
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive has released its latest viewing playlist — this time focused on trios. Peruse stunning excerpts carefully curated by the Pillow, including 2019 performances by Charlotte Ballet, Didy Veldman, and Compagnie CNDC Angers; newly-posted work by Emma Portner & Artists and Trey McIntyre Projects; and additional selections featuring Alexei Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, and Donald McKayle.
Kelley Donovan & Dancers’ Age of Unraveling
Kelley Donovan & Dancers has released footage of its production Age of Unraveling, a 2010 commission by World Music in Boston that premiered in the ICA Theater on October 1 and 2 in 2010. Age of Unraveling “investigates the internal world of transformation and expresses the intimate self through movement, ranging from soft fluidity to athletic physicality. A sequential use of the torso with abrupt energy changes and weight shifts explore the initiation of movement from the core. The dancers physically explore the theme of impermanence by never letting their weight settle for two long in one shape and move with an restless urgency toward the next physical event.”
— Merli V. Guerra
Roots and World Music
First off, there is some actual offline live music to report: The Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry has turned its parking lot into a drive-in concert venue. Power popper Kasim Sulton of Utopia does a pair of solo shows May 23, with guitar heroes Johnny A and Gary Hoey among those expected to appear later in the summer.
Moving back into the virtual concert world, the folks behind the traditional folk Revels celebrations are offering RebelConnect on Sunday afternoons. Today it’s A Maritime Voyage in Song with David Coffin offering sea chanteys and whaling songs from the stage of the (empty) Shalin Liu Performance Center. Trad folk legends John Roberts and Tony Barrand will make cameos from their homes.
Club Passim is continuing its non-stop series of streams and fundraisers. Tonight the brilliant Nepalese music master Shyan Nepali is featured. Next weekend is a virtual edition of the annual Campfire Festival with dozens of performers, many of them collaborating “in the round” as it were.
Atwood’s, the beloved Cambridge roots music venue, is joining the list of local clubs presenting online content while their physical doors are closed. There will be a visit with the ever loquacious Jon Langford on May 24. Be sure to request a password in advance from the Atwood’s Facebook page.
— Noah Schaffer
Music for Sheltering in Place
FIRST QUARTER FAVES — 2020
1. FKA Twigs, “Sad Day”
2. Halsey, “You Should Be Sad”
3. The Coathangers, “Memories”
4. Grimes, “My Name Is Dark”
5. Gil Scott-Heron/Makaya McKraven, “Running”
6. Pop Smoke, “Invincible”
7. The Claudettes, “I Swear To God I Will”
8. Amyl and the Sniffers, “Monsoon Rock”
9. The Third Mind, “East West (Full Mongrel USO Mix)”
10. Drive-By Truckers, “Thoughts and Prayers”
11. Sarah Lee Langford, “Painted Lady”
12. Lisa Hutton, “Rush Hour Rhapsody”
13. Wood River, “Future Fun”
14. Sudan Archives, “Pelicans in the Summer”
15. Roger Eno and Brian Eno, “Deep Saffron”
— Includes several 2019 releases that were lost in the shuffle when I was compiling picks last year
— None of these are standout tracks from weak albums; whole release is recommended for each of them
Well before the current wave of concert cancellations I noticed that Pop Smoke’s March show had been scratched; he was murdered on February 19.
Finally, a suggestion for buffing up your home music collection. I’m finally digging deep into Jazzman Records’ Spiritual Jazz series of collections and find them all captivating — sensual as well as enlightening. I may have more to say about these discs later.
RAY OF LIGHT
My Definitive List of Ray Charles tracks:
(Chronological and Soundtrack Selection of Ray Charles Numbers)
- How Long Blues
- Late in the Evening Blues
- I’ll Do Anything But Work
- Guitar Blues
- Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
- Kissa Me Baby
- It Should’ve Been Me
- Don’t You Know
- Come Back Baby
- I’ve Got a Woman
- The Sun’s Gonna Shine Again
- The Midnight Hour
- Worried Life Blues
- Low Society
- Drown in My Own Tears
- This Little Girl of Mine
- A Fool for You
- Losing Hand
- Sinner’s Prayer
- Funny (But I Still Love You)
- Hallelujah I Love Her So
- Lonely Avenue
- Leave My Woman Alone
- Ain’t That Love
- Swanee River Rock
- My Bonnie
- Feelin’ Sad
- I Wonder Who
- Nobody Cares
- Ray’s Blues
- Mr. Charlie’s Blues
- Rockhouse Parts One and Two
- (Night Time) Is the Right Time
- What’d I Say Parts One and Two
- Tell the Truth
- X-Ray Blues
- I Believe To My Soul
- Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’
- Hard Times (No Ones Knows Better Than I)
- What Would I Do Without You
- Early in the Morning
- Let the Good Times Roll
- Come Rain or Come Shine
- I’m Moving On
- Sticks and Stones
- Georgia on My Mind
- Heardhearted Hannah
- One Mint Julep
- I’m Gonna Move To the Outskirts of Town
- Hit the Road Jack
- The Danger Zone
- Unchain My Heart
- On the Oher Hand Baby
- Baby It’s Cold Outside
- At the Club
- Hide Nor Hair
- I Can’t Stop Loving You
- Bye Bye Love
- Your Cheating Heart
- Take These Chains From My Heart
- That Lucky Old Sun
- Smack Dab in the Middle
- Makin’ Whoopee
- Crying Time
- Let’s Go Get Stoned
- I Chose to Sing the Blues
- I Don’t Need No Doctor
- Drifting Blues
- In the Heat of the Night
- Gee, Baby Ain’t I Good To You
- Feel So Bad
- Look What They Done to My Song, Ma
- America the Beautiful
- Booty Butt
- Spirit in the Dark
— Milo Miles
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused, essentially, the early wrap-up of classical music’s 2019-20 concert season, numerous ensembles are either live-streaming live, no-audience performances, or opening their performance archives to the public. Below are links to some of them (local and international).
BSO at Home (new music released daily at 10 a.m. starting March 23)
Pianist Igor Levit presents daily (or nearly so) Hauskonzerte via Twitter
London Symphony Orchestra performance archive (new concerts streamed every Sunday and Thursday)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Digital Concert Hall, free access if you register before March 31 (voucher code: BERLINPHIL
A number of new broadcast series and streamed performances have emerged over the past few days and weeks. Below are some of the highlights.
Boston Baroque Radio: a collection of recorded performances from the ensemble’s extensive discography
BMOP Radio: showcases the exceptional and wide-ranging discography of Boston’s flagship new-music orchestra
Terezin Music Foundation: the TMF releases Yom HaShoah Concert & Memorial Film, featuring performances from Yo-Yo Ma, Andris Nelsons, Simone Dinnerstein and others. Available free on YouTube from April 19 at 12 p.m.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: presents an archive of past performances as well as a livestream series
Lake George Music Festival Quarantine Concerts: live concerts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 7 p.m.
This past weekend, the New York Times profiled the Tesla String Quartet, a young chamber group I’d come to admire through the two electrifying albums of theirs I reviewed over the last couple of years. As for many, the pandemic has dramatically unsettled their future, though the players crafted an uplifting playlist of “Quarentunes” that’s well worth checking out.
Orchestras around the world have undertaken similar efforts, with players coming together via Zoom (or similar) from the security of their homes. Among several notable offerings turning up on YouTube is this account of the “Nimrod” movement from Elgar’s Enigma Variations from the triumvirate of the Milwaukee Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra:
Then there’s the Lahti Symphony’s stirring rendition of Sibelius’ Finlandia, in which the music’s triumphant spirit coming across with uninhibited clarity:
And, for sheer ambition, you’d be hard-pressed to top Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra offering up the closing section from the finale of Mahler’s magnificent Symphony no. 3:
In other news, the debut recording of John Adams’ new piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? was released by Deutsche Grammophon on April 17. I found the score captivating when Yuja Wang and the Los Angeles Philharmonic presented the piece at Symphony Hall in November: gritty and shadowy, but featuring moments of delicate beauty. In the context of a global pandemic, the music, with its mix of driving funk riffs and floating melodies, sounds even more timely.
Also for Adams fans: the composer’s I Still Dance, written for the opening of Michael Tilson Thomas’s last season at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony, can now be heard in its premiere performance from last fall:
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Three British musicians have posted daily Tweets that invariably make my day cheerier.
Two friends, the fabulous cellist @StevenIsserlis and opera singer Matthew Rose (@roseandfriends) began a daily tweet exchange, talking (briefly) about the pieces they had chosen for us to enjoy, and then supplying us with YouTube info. This has been a delight each and every morning.
Jamie W. Hall, a British baritone, JWHallBaritone, has endeared himself to me and many others with his daily #bathroberecitals, in which he accompanies himself (beautifully) on the piano. Yes, in his bathrobe. Lots of charm here and great, unexpectedly lovely songs.
The Metropolitan Opera has been presenting daily operas, a huge joy. Who knows how long this will continue, but the first 3 weeks have been a huge pleasure. You can log on in the early evening, before the 7:30 starting time, and finish listening to the opera the next day.
A few as yet unreviewed (by me) CDs have also added pleasure. The extraordinary Marc-André Hamelin has come out with stupendous performances of Samuil Feinberg’s Piano Sonatas (Hyperion). The music by the Spanish Renaissance composer Juan Esquivhise has given me enormous joy and peace: his gorgeous Missa Hortus Conclusus conducted by Eamonn Dougan and sung exquisitely by De Profundus (Hyperion). Israeli-American pianist Shai Wosner has a yet another ravishing CD of Schubert piano sonatas (Onyx). Fabulous.
The superb pianist Paul Lewis was to have performed the 5 Beethoven Concerti at Tanglewood this summer. Who knows if this will take place? The good news is that there is a new boxed set of Lewis playing the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas as well as the 5 Concerti (Harmonia Mundi).
Finally, my favorite book from the past several years (published in January) is Niall Williams’ atmospheric, gorgeously written This is Happiness. You may have read his earlier Four Letters of Love. This new volume is equally wondrous. (I liked it so much I bought 8 copies for friends.)
— Susan Miron
While it remains closed to the public during the COVID-19 crisis, the Wadsworth Athenaeum is keeping in touch by posting a series of “Collection Highlights” on its website. The current selection, a late 15th-century panel painting attributed to the Flemish artist Joachim Patinir, depicts the victim of an early pandemic, the waves of Black Death that ravaged Europe in the late Middle Ages and led to the cultural transformations of the Renaissance, The central figure, St. Roche, protector of the sick, survived the plague partly because a loyal friend brought him a loaf of bread every day (represented in the painting by a dog offering bread to the saint). In its description of the painting, the Wadsworth points out that, though they had no understanding of microbes, the disease-ravaged cities of Europe nevertheless practiced “social distancing,” quarantining travelers for forty days before they were allowed to enter the city gates. The word “quarantine,” in fact, is derived from the Italian or Latin word for forty, quaranta.
— Peter Walsh
The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Leadership, and Liberation in the 1960’s
May 19, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“In 1960, Harvard’s sister college, Radcliffe, announced the founding of an Institute for Independent Study, a “messy experiment” in women’s education that offered paid fellowships to those with a PhD or “the equivalent” in artistic achievement. Five of the women who received fellowships — poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, sculptor Mariana Pineda, and writer Tillie Olsen — quickly formed deep bonds with one another that would inspire and sustain their most ambitious work. They called themselves “the Equivalents.” Drawing from notebooks, letters, recordings, journals, poetry, and prose, Maggie Doherty weaves a moving narrative of friendship and ambition, art and activism, love and heartbreak, and shows how the institute spoke to the condition of women on the cusp of liberation.”
Kid Quixotes: A Group of Students, Their Teacher, and the One-Room School Where Everything is Possible
May 20, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“Still Waters in a Storm is an after-school program held in a small room in Bushwick, Brooklyn; it is a place for kids to practice reading and writing in English, Spanish, and Latin. For the students, many living in constant fear of deportation, Still Waters is a refuge. For Stephen Haff, a former public-school teacher, it is the sanctuary he built following a breakdown caused by bipolar depression. At Still Waters, all agreed that there would only be one rule: “Everyone listens to everyone.” And this has unlocked spectacular potential. Since 2016, the students have been collectively translating Don Quixote into English, taking the Spanish tale—a story about a dreamer who never gives up — and adapting it into a bilingual musical. Six-year old Sarah tells of her mother’s journey across the desert from Mexico riding on the back of a tiger. Alex, a very private teenager, sings her coming out song to standing ovations. As the kids perform their work across NYC, they learn that they belong in this country—their voices amplifying to deliver a message of diversity, love, hope, and resilience essential to us all.”
Claire Messud and James Wood
Kant’s Little Prussian Head & Serious Noticing
May 26 at 6 p.m.
Two of the brightest stars in the American literary sky — and who also happen to be a married couple. In a virtual event, the two will discuss their fictional and critical work.
Giraffes On Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, The Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made
June 2 at 7:30 p.m.
“Author and lost-film buff Josh Frank joins comedian Tim Heidecker and comics creator Manuela Pertega to create a full-color comic adaptation of Giraffes on Horseback Salad — a lost Marx Brothers film written by none other than Salvador Dalí. Josh Frank is author of Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies, In Heaven Everything Is Fine, and, with Black Francis and Steven Appleby, the illustrated novel The Good Inn. In his spare time, he owns and operates the Blue Starlite Mini-Urban Drive-In Movie Theatre in Austin, Texas.”
The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America
June 5 at 7 p.m.
“In 1957, Frank Kameny, a rising astronomer working for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii, received a summons to report immediately to Washington, D.C. The Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after a series of humiliating interviews, Kameny, like countless gay men and women before him, was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike many others, though, Kameny fought back. Based on firsthand accounts, recently declassified FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents, The Deviant’s War unfolds over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. It traces the forgotten ties that bound gay rights to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance. Above all, it is a story of America (and Washington) at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking, byzantine public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and ultimately victory.”
— Matt Hanson