Anyone who caught the Ben Folds performance with the Boston Pops last week and was struck by the thinness of the meeting of musical worlds should have been there on Saturday night at Sanders Theatre to hear the Boston Modern Orchestra Project tee off on three bracingly imaginative works infused with rock ‘n’ roll and other popular styles.
Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project are nothing if not adventurous, playing all sorts of new music and bringing classical music to pubs and bars.
Tonight they take that spirit even further by performing Anthony De Ritis’ Devolution: A Concerto for DJ and Orchestra featuring DJ Spooky the Subliminal Kid; Steven Mackey’s Dreamhouse featuring electric guitars and vocalists; and the world premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s Hard Drive. The program, at Sanders Theatre, is part of the Celebrity Series Boston Marquee performances.
In the basement of the Masonic Hall in Porter Square, conductor Gil Rose is giving members of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project fair warning. “This is going to get pretty loud,” he says.
Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) will perform Devolution, an original piece composed by Northeastern professor Anthony De Ritis and featuring DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller) on May 19th at 8 p.m. at the Sanders Theater, as part of the Bank of America Celebrity Series.
President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the surrounding events are seen through the prism of musical drama in the world premiere of Our American Cousin, a new opera by Amherst College composer Eric Sawyer and librettist John Shoptaw.
CAMBRIDGE -- Pull enough threads in American contemporary music of the last 50 years and you’ll arrive at the Fromm Foundation, which has funded commissions from many of the 20th century’s most distinguished composers. Paul Fromm (1906-1987) was an emigre who fled Nazi Germany and settled in this country, establishing a successful wine importing business in Chicago and, later, a foundation pledged “to restore to the composer his rightful position at the center of musical life.”
When Laura Keene took the stage of Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. to greet the audience on April 14, 1865, she had every good reason to anticipate a fine evening ahead.
With her theater company, she was poised to present a sure crowd-pleaser, Broadway’s first smash hit. The assemblage included distinguished guests President Lincoln and the First Lady. And five days earlier, the surrender of Confederate General Lee to U.S. Grant at Appomattox had ended the long nightmare of the Civil War that had split the nation in two.
A few minutes into the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s performance of Pascal Dusapin’s chamber-ensemble piece Coda, Gil Rose brought the music to a sudden halt. He calmly explained to the audience that he’d just encountered “every conductor’s nightmare”: He’d turned three pages in his score at once. And when that happens, he said with a small smile, there’s nothing to do but start over.
Now in its 10th season, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project is a vibrant presence on the city’s new music scene, a group with omnivorous musical appetites and impressive collective chops. Its calendar this season is crowded with contemporary music, from the avant-garde of France to the avant-garde of New Jersey. But once a year, BMOP tunes its questing ears to the music produced specifically by local composers, or at least those with local ties. The group’s annual “Boston Connection” program took place Saturday night in Jordan Hall.
On Tuesday night, I attended two richly satisfying concerts without stepping foot in a concert hall. The first was a new music program presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project at the Moonshine Room of the popular Club Cafe in the South End; the second was a performance by the up-and-coming Parker String Quartet in the Lizard Lounge, a low-slung basement club space in Cambridge. Next month, the Firebird Ensemble will perform in a local barbecue joint.
BMOP (the Boston Modern Orchestra Project), now in its 10th season, is on the side of the angels when it comes to being good musical citizens. Can anyone doubt it?
To begin with, when they use the word Project, that’s exactly what they mean. Everything on their recent (Nov. 3) Jordan Hall concert - some six works by four composers - was slated for commercial recording immediately afterward. With this done, the BMOP discography will amount to an impressive 20 releases.
Founded a decade ago, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project has risen to the front ranks of American contemporary-music ensembles through its fire, precision, and commitment to new work. BMOP’s 10th season opened Friday at Jordan Hall with a concert including two pieces by emerging singer and composer Lisa Bielawa, 38, inaugurating her three-year residency with the orchestra. BMOP’s typically canny programming surrounded Bielawa’s works with beautifully complementary compositions - two, like hers, inspired by literary sources.
By calling his drama Angels in America “a Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” Tony Kushner implies that his two-part, seven-hour saga about America’s response to Aids operates like a musical work; perhaps he even envisioned that it might one day be turned into an opera. That day came in 2004 when the Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös’s opera had its premiere at the Châtelet in Paris. That a long play had been transformed into a shortish opera (2? hours) provoked little dissent, but critics held that Eötvös’s music lacked a strong profile.
Whatever anyone thinks of the actual opera, congratulations are again in order to Opera Unlimited, the collaboration between music director Gil Rose’s Opera Boston and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project, this time for bringing to Boston the American premiere of Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös’s attempt to make an opera out of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, his Pulitzer-winning play about the AIDS epidemic and the collapse of public and personal values under Reagan (one remaining performance, June 24 at the Majestic Theatre).
Much of life is spent thinking about death. Primary in our thoughts are the rate of its approach and hour of its arrival. It is a little like driving a car whose accelerator and brakes are out of our control. This idea may explain the public’s hideous and enduring fascination with executions and suicides, for in both cases time races and the date is set. People are in control.
Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is an epic, historical, political, personal , and apocalyptic drama that is also an opera waiting to happen. It is full of larger-than-life characters who deliver long aria-speeches of interior questioning; characters meet each other in dream landscapes and there are interwoven, simultaneous episodes that resemble operatic ensembles. There is even a grand death scene.
Of all the works of art that arose out of the AIDS epidemic, none has so completely transcended its origins as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Somewhere between its first productions in the early 1990s and now, Kushner’s epic play ceased being a work about AIDS and became one of the great American dramas of the last 50 years.
Conductor Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project closed this season’s subscription series Friday night with a good-time program of crossover music.
I believe I’m supposed to blame Theodor Adorno for this, but somewhere along the way in the 20th century’s formative years, modern music got divvied up between “serious” and “popular” ears. As lame distinctions go, this one has proven particularly persistent, hanging around to this day in boiled-down form as an opposition between fun and not-fun. In any case, it has left us with an unnecessary schism in the way we understand American music.
The 68th season of Bank of America Celebrity Series opens with ‘‘A Cajun Celebration” Oct. 15, featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in a benefit performance for the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund and the Celebrity Series Arts, Education and Community Program.
The season brings 74 performances in 11 venues by performers including major dance companies, orchestras, pianists, singers, chamber music ensembles, and world music, jazz, popular, and folk artists.