Music Concert Preview: Where to Hear “The Place Between” — In the Months Ahead
By Steve Elman
In a previous post, I wrote about the increasing number of concert events in Boston that explore the Place Between — the space in which art music genres blend before our very ears.
Here are some recommendations of concerts with hybrid works coming to the Boston area in the months ahead:
February 7 at 7:30 p. m.: New England Conservatory Jazz Studies and Contemporary Musical Arts Departments faculty and students, including Mal Barsamian (cl), Cristi Catt (vo), Anthony Coleman (p), Cecil McBee (b), CMA Department co-chair Hankus Netsky, Bob Nieske (b), Lewis Porter (p), and Ben Schwendener (p): New arrangements of music by J.S. Bach, Tatyos Efendi, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn and Tom Waits, plus compositions or arrangements by Jorrit Dijkstra, Jerry Leake, Lautaro Mantilla, and Mehmet Ali Sanlikol. FREE. At Jordan Hall, Boston
NEC again offers a program that draws from many traditions — this time including jazz, classical, traditional folk music, and West African percussion. These concerts are always invigorating experiences.
February 14 at 7:30 p. m.: New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble and musicians from NEC’s Contemporary Musical Arts Department, including alumna singer Delfina Cheb-Terrab: Hankus Netsky’s klezmer “Nonantum Bulgar,” Michael Gandolfi’s “Vientos y Tangos” variations, Thomas Duffy’s genre-crossing “Three Places in New Haven,” and William Schuman’s arrangements of “Chester” and “When Jesus Wept.” FREE. At Jordan Hall, Boston
February 16 at 7:30 p. m.: New England Conservatory Chamber Singers and Symphonic Winds, soprano Patrice Williamson, Helen Sung (p): excerpts from Duke Ellington’s [First] Sacred Concert, arranged and directed by William Drury. FREE. At Jordan Hall, Boston
February 17 at 8 p. m.: Jason Moran (p) and the Big Bandwagon, with Tarus Mateen (b), Nasheet Waits (dm), and a seven-piece ensemble, including David Adewumi (tp), Immanuel Wilkins (as), Darryl Harper (fl / cl), Brian Settles (ts): Moran’s new interpretations of the music of James Reese Europe from the 1910s. A Celebrity Series event at Berklee Performance Center, Boston
March 2 at 730 p. m.: New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, led by Ken Schaphorst and Omar Thomas: Thomas will conduct his own composition, “We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements.” Schaphorst will conduct Charles Mingus’s “Haitian Fight Song” and excerpts from Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige.” FREE. At Jordan Hall, Boston
March 3 at 8 p. m.: Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Richard Kelley (tp / flug / pic tp), led by Bruce Hangen: Thomas Oboe Lee’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (2014), plus Aaron Copland’s “Cuban Overture,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” and George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” At Sanders Theatre, Cambridge
Lee’s concerto has a gorgeous slow movement for flugelhorn that is more than a little reminiscent of the Miles Davis-Gil Evans Sketches of Spain collaboration.
March 3 at 8 p. m. (a “Casual Friday” concert, where informal dress is encouraged), March 4 at 8 p. m., and March 5 at 2 p. m.: Boston Symphony Orchestra, André Raphel (cond), Barbara Walker (vocalist), Uri Caine (p), Mike Boone (b), Clarence Penn (dm), Catto Chorus. At Symphony Hall, Boston
This concert features a major work scheduled during the pandemic that had to be canceled, Uri Caine’s hybrid oratorio, The Passion of Octavius Catto (2019), which commemorates a 19th-century pioneer in the struggle for Black rights who was murdered in Philadelphia in 1871. It draws from the classical, jazz and gospel traditions, and features prominent roles for Caine’s jazz trio and vocalist Walker, a Philadelphia native known for her work in jazz and popular music. The second major work on the bill is a landmark in the history of classical music written by Black composers, William Grant Still’s “Afro-American Symphony.”
March 6 at 8 p. m.: Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra: new works by Dave Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson, conducted by the composers. At the Berklee Performance Center, Boston
Each of these composers has an impressive track record of innovative compositions combining formal structures with improvisation.
March 9 at 730 p. m., March 10 at 130 p. m., and March 11 at 8 p. m.: Boston Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins (cond), Anthony McGill (clarinets). At Symphony Hall, Boston
This concert features Anthony Davis’s clarinet concerto, “You have the right to remain silent” (2011), which incorporates trap kit and uses some jazz rhythm. It draws on an incident in Boston in the mid-1970s when the composer was stopped by a police officer.
April 2, 1:30 p. m.: Sphinx Virtuosi: Works by Beethoven, Villa-Lobos, Jessie Montgomery, and Sphinx commissions from Michael Dudley, Valerie Coleman, and Ricardo Herz. At Calderwood Hall at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
This group, composed largely of musicians of color, crosses genre boundaries with abandon and aplomb.
April 11 at 730 p. m.: Fay Victor with New England Conservatory Contemporary Musical Arts Department faculty and students. FREE. At Jordan Hall, Boston
This concert concludes the residency of Brooklyn-based vocalist / sound artist / composer Fay Victor, an innovator who blends influences from jazz, improvised music, and world music traditions. The program will include her own works and original student compositions.
April 21 at 8 p. m.: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis (tp). This repertory orchestra reinterprets important works in the jazz tradition and plays new works, often by Marsalis himself. Program TBA. A Celebrity Series event at Symphony Hall, Boston
April 29, at 7:30 PM. Mark Harvey and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: “Celebrating the Duke, Trane, and Mary Lou,” including Ellington’s “Come Sunday” and “Chinoiserie,” and three pieces by Harvey — “Soul on Soul,” inspired by Mary Lou Williams; “The Seeker,” inspired by John Coltrane; and the premiere of “Prayer for Ukraine.”
A new/old venue for this venerable ensemble, celebrating their 50th Season. The venue is a familiar Back Bay space for music fans, hosting memorable events going back to the 1970s’ all-night jazz concerts. At Church of the Covenant, 67 Newbury Street, Boston.
April 30 at 3 p. m.: Members of the Silkroad Ensemble and guests, with singers Biella da Costa, Nora Fischer, and Noam Enbar. They perform Osvaldo Golijov’s Falling Out of Time, a composed work drawing on popular and folk music of Latin America and other traditions, based on David Grossman’s novel. A Celebrity Series event at Symphony Hall, Boston
May 4 at 730 p. m.: Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra with soloists and conductor to be announced: Rhianna Giddens’s Omar, an opera based on Islamic scholar Omar Ibn Said’s autobiographical account of his life in Africa and his enslavement in the Carolinas. At Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston
May 5 at 8 p. m.: Omar Sosa (kb), Seckou Keita (kora/vo), & Gustavo Ovalles (per/vo). A Global Arts Live concert at City Winery, Boston
Keyboardist Sosa and kora player Keita, both masters, offer a beguiling and fascinating blend of Latin jazz and Senegalese kora music. A hybrid that stretches beyond Western traditions, but included here because anyone with open ears will find it worthwhile.
Other future performances, with details still to be announced:
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project inaugurated an ambitious series of operas by Black composers with Anthony Davis’s X. The series continues with four more works, each to be part of an upcoming BMOP season:
Fall 2023 (soloists, dates, times, and location TBA): Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), directed by Gil Rose: world premiere of the full-orchestra version of Nkeiru Okoye’s opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom. The BMOP 2023-24 season site will provide dates and times as they are finalized. Part of BMOP’s series, “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage”
2024 (soloists, dates, times, and location TBA): Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and New York City Opera, directed by Gil Rose: William Grant Still’s opera Troubled Island. The BMOP 2024-25 season site will provide dates and times as they are finalized. Part of BMOP’s series, “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage”
2025 (soloists, dates, times, and location TBA): Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), directed by Gil Rose: Ulysses Simpson Kay’s opera Frederick Douglass. The BMOP 2025-26 season site will provide dates and times as they are finalized. Part of BMOP’s series, “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage”
2026 (soloists, dates, times, and location TBA): Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), directed by Gil Rose: world premiere of Jonathan Bailey Holland’s opera The Bridge, commissioned by BMOP. The BMOP 2026-27 season site will provide dates and times as they are finalized. Part of BMOP’s series, “As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage”
The area’s notable practitioners of music in the Place Between feature excerpts and videos of their performances on their websites. Consult the links below to access their sites and learn details of future performances that have not yet been finalized:
Donal Fox recitals / performances
Darrell Katz and the Jazz Composers Alliance performances The current members of CJA also include David Harris, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson.
Mark Harvey and Aardvark performances
Ran Blake’s living legacy, the Contemporary Musical Arts Department at the New England Conservatory, presents annual concerts that never fail to open ears and spotlight remarkable young composer-performers. See above for some of this season’s concerts and consult NEC’s concert calendar for more.
Steve Elman’s more than four decades in New England public radio have included 10 years as a jazz host in the 1970s, five years as a classical host on WBUR in the 1980s, a short stint as senior producer of an arts magazine, 13 years as assistant general manager of WBUR, and fill-in classical host on 99.5 WCRB.
Tagged: Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Big Bandwagon, Boston Conservatory Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Donal Fox, Jason Moran, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Mark Harvey, New England Conservatory Jazz Studies and Contemporary Musical Arts Department, Ran Blake