Jazz, Main Stage

Ali Jackson Helps the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Shine a Light on Buddy Rich

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Ali Jackson.

Big band drums and rhythm take center stage when the always thrilling Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis returns to Boston next month! Celebrating the centennial of the great Buddy Rich, the program showcases how expert drummers energize and uplift the audience and the entire band. Rich was a renowned musical powerhouse for most of the 20th century, influencing generations and offering a visceral excitement that few drummers could capture.

Drummer Ali Jackson arranges the music of this legendary drummer in a program that culminates in the Boston premiere of his own Living Grooves: A World in Jazz Rhythm, an extended piece written in the innovative spirit of drum greats like Rich. Jackson himself is well-versed in a spectrum of jazz styles, ranging from the earliest American drum cadences to ragtime, marching bands, West African traditions, Brazilian music, the Detroit jazz tradition, and Afro-Cuban styles. You can check out the powerhouse player in the short video below. Continue Reading

Main Stage

Sanam Marvi’s Powerful Evening of Sufi Song

On the evening of Sunday, March 26, Sanders Theatre resounded with the powerful voice of Sanam Marvi, joined by Kashif Ali on tabla, Imran Ali on harmonium, Shahid Ali on sitar, Noor Bux on dholak, and guest artist Arieb Azhar on vocals and guitar. Born in 1986 in the city of Hyderabad in the province of Sindh in Pakistan, Sanam Marvi is one of Pakistan’s leading performers of Sufi music. Sufism is often described as the mystical side of Islam, but as Arieb Azhar noted in his introduction of Ms. Marvi on Sunday evening, Sufis themselves believe that Sufism expresses the essence of all religions, reaching out for a direct connection with the divine life force, in service to all humanity.

Pakistan has a long tradition of Sufi poet-saints, many of whom Ms. Marvi honored in Sunday evening’s performance, with a soaring voice that filled Sanders Theatre with power, vulnerability, and reverence, accompanied by the driving rhythms of the tabla and dholak and masterful accompaniment on sitar and harmonium. Mr. Azhar joined for the final two songs, ending with a rousing performance of Mast Qalandar, Pakistan’s most widely sung Sufi song. Continue Reading

Dance, Main Stage

South American Cowboys Make Boston Debut this Weekend

“While we come across as tough guys, we also know how to have a good time and enjoy a laugh”

Photo by Diane Smithers

The life of an Argentinian cowboy, or “gaucho,” is a tough one. “Much time is spent on horseback, and often the gauchos are alone for long periods of time,” explains Che Malambo tour lead, Matthew Bledsoe. “It’s a hard life, similar to North American cowboys, you have to know how to hold your own and defend what belongs to you, even if it’s just your pride and the ground you are standing on in that moment.”

Argentina’s Che Malambo dance company is rooted in this gaucho lifestyle, and it will storm the Shubert Theatre stage for its Boston debut this weekend with fiery footwork and powerful stomping—trademarks of a dance tradition known as “Malambo.” Performed solely by men, the Malambo began in the 17th century as competitive duels that challenged one another’s agility, strength, and dexterity skills.

“Malambo is the way gauchos express themselves so the strength, presence, focus and extreme physical endurance are all seen in the performance of Che Malambo,” Bledsoe explains.” Their performances open by introducing the artists in these dual-like scenarios, testing one another’s skills and stamina, until each performer proves himself and joins the larger group. “It’s something of a rite of passage at the top of every show that sets the tone and expectation of excellence from each member.” Continue Reading

Main Stage, Vocalist

Pakistani Singer Sanam Marvi in Boston this Weekend

We’re excited to welcome Sanam Marvi, one of the finest singers of Sufi devotional music and Pakistani folk songs, to Sanders Theatre this Sunday! Co-presented with World Music/CRASHarts, this performance marks the singer’s Boston debut. Her work with major Bollywood stars has made her one of the leading voices in India and Pakistan. Whether singing in Urdu, Sindhi, or Saraiki, Marvi aims to reach across generations and cultures to create an inspiring experience, meditative and trance inducing one moment and then thrillingly ecstatic the next. Like that of the late Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan, Marvi’s devotional joyousness and intoxication with divine love are completely awe-inspiring. Tickets are still available here.

In addition to the concert, Sanam Marvi is participating in a number of public activities to help foster cross-cultural dialogue and exchange: Continue Reading

Classical, Main Stage

Stave Sessions 2017 Kickoff with yMusic

Photos by Robert Torres
Video Production by Kristín Otharsson

We kicked off Stave Sessions 2017 with the innovative chamber ensemble, yMusic, hailed by NPR’s Fred Child as “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.”  yMusic commission from and collaborate with many of the era’s most compelling creators of pop and classical music: Chris Thile, Nico Muhly, Ben Folds, José Gonzalez, and Andrew Norman, among many others—some of whose work was showcased in Tuesday night’s set. Relive the performance with a series of photos and video captured by the Celebrity Series team, and join us for another Stave Sessions performance this week! Learn more about Stave Sessions and buy tickets here. Continue Reading

Main Stage

A Look Back at Kodo’s “Dadan 2017” at Symphony Hall

Photos by Robert Torres

The thunderous sounds of taiko drums filled the room at Symphony Hall this past Sunday when Japan’s beloved Kodo ensemble made its Boston return. Celebrating 35 years of Kodo, the group performed DADAN 2017, a work by its renowned Guest Director Tamasaburo Bando that showcased the power, grace, and endurance of taiko drumming’s most popular global ambassadors. Celebrity Series photographer Robert Torres was on hand to capture this experience from behind the lens. Continue Reading

Jazz, Main Stage

Vijay Iyer Sextet at Sanders Theatre, March 9

Photos by Robert Torres

We were pleased to welcome back Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer for an incredible Celebrity Series performance on Thursday evening. Joined by Graham Haynes on cornet and flugelhorn, Mark Shim on tenor saxophone, Steve Lehman on alto saxophone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, Iyer treated the audience to a preview of as yet unrecorded material. The evening brought together six of today’s most stellar jazz players for a performance that was at times intense, at times meditative, and at every moment impressive in its virtuosity.

“The Celebrity Series did us a great favor by presenting Iyer once again,” wrote Steve Elman of The Arts Fuse. “On the strength of the music his band played at Sanders in March, I feel pretty certain that he will be a part of their regular roster of artists for years to come.” Read his full review of the concert here.

Relive the evening with a selection of photos by Celebrity Series photographer Robert Torres. Continue Reading

Arts for All

Choreographer Yo-El Cassell’s Movement Workshop at Boston Arts Academy

Celebrity Series of Boston is delighted to welcome dancer, choreographer and educator Yo-El Cassell to our Neighborhood Arts roster. Yo-El made his first Celebrity Series outreach visit on March 3 to the Boston Arts Academy, to the class taught by Theater Chair Juanita Rodriques. Working with 23 sophomores who will produce The Crucible in May, Yo-El introduced how movement can help actors with entry points to communicating emotion. The group explored themes central to the play, such as status, morality (good vs. evil), and the choice to move against established barriers.

Students participated in breathing, vocalization, movement and imagination exercises—both independently and within groups. Yo-El remarked that we all make choices, but directors may ask actors to make alternate choices. The culminating performance or product is the illumination of process, and it’s equally important to enjoy the journey through that process.  Continue Reading

Main Stage

Kodo’s DADAN 2017 Offers a Bold New Exploration of Japanese Drumming Traditions

Don’t miss the Boston premiere of Kodo’s DADAN 2017: this program featuring the men of the company has awed and thrilled audiences around the world, and now they bring the power of taiko to Symphony Hall on March 19. The company celebrates its 35th anniversary with this latest work by guest director Tamasaburo Bando. 

Watch the video for a preview of what to expect, and get your tickets while they’re still available! Reserve your seats now.

Arts for All, Neighborhood Arts

Boston Premiere: Guy Mendilow Ensemble’s “Three Sides to Every Story”

Embark on a musical trek from bustling Mediterranean ports and resplendent Balkan capitals to communities shattered in the second world war and all but forgotten. Follow stories of orphan poets, vagabond queens and sailors lost to the sea, all set to spellbinding arrangements worthy of symphonic film scores. Wrap these tales up with lush choral harmonies and soulful vocals evoking Flamenco’s gutsiness set to heart-pounding percussion and intricate soundscapes.

Guy Mendilow Ensemble

On Saturday, March 11, the Guy Mendilow Ensemble invites you on this journey through the Balkans and Mid-East in the Boston premiere of “Three Sides to Every Story.” The program is a sonic adventure masterfully brought to life by the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, the world class quintet from Israel, Palestine, Argentina, and the USA, joined by the Boston City Singers. In a richly textured experience of haunting beauty, audiences are challenged with ironies and contradictions. What does it mean to encounter kindness and defiant hope — in Terrezin? To play children’s games between the air raids in the occupied Czech Republic? To travel through postcard-perfect landscapes while ghosts of nightmare pasts can still just barely be seen? In a semi-theatrical performance ranging from epic to irreverent, stories and songs in Ladino and English weave seamlessly to stir vignettes of struggle, courage in dark hours, and, ultimately, riotous celebration, reminding us that, indeed, there are at least three sides to every story. Continue Reading