There were many children in attendance at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first Saturday evening concert of 2018. The performance featured two key elements that could have been of special interest to them — or their parents. The soloist was the deft 25-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, one of the composer’s most personable works. And the second half was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Those quintessential four notes and what follows are pretty much synonymous with the word “symphony” in the public imagination. If you need further proof of that, just look at the name above the Symphony Hall stage.
“Immediately after her encounter with Dutoit, Allan alleged, the BSO’s orchestra manager called out to her to warn her — too late — about Dutoit. “Before you see maestro, I need to tell you something,” she recalled the manager saying. “Look, we advise, we’ve had some complaints, and I wouldn’t go in there alone.”
Allan believes that at the time, the manager thought he was doing her a favor.
“But the thing that always struck me afterwards was: They had a system in place,” she said. “And the system was called: Don’t go in there by yourself. Like, we’ve had complaints, therefore the way we get around that is that we send people in in pairs. Not: We don’t employ that person anymore.””
Read the full story in the Globe. Rebecca Ostriker and Malcolm Gay report.
Dutoit was a frequent guest conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra until the orchestra severed ties with him in late 2017, following the Associated Press’s publication of a story about four women who accused him of assault over a period spanning twenty years.
This comes less than two months after Andris Nelsons, the current music director of the BSO, stated on a Boston Public Radio interview that sexual harassment isn’t a problem in classical music. His comments seemed to not only put forth that sexual harassment isn’t a problem, but brush aside any need for self examination or interrogation of the culture that has permitted these things to happen. That said, English is Nelsons’s fourth language, and he often has trouble expressing himself clearly in interviews. He later released a statement through the orchestra to clarify his comments. It essentially boiled down to acknowledging that sexual harassment can happen in all fields, though he has not observed any in his. He then called for art and music inspiration to guide us to the “better angels” of our human natures.
Dutoit is the second conductor with BSO ties to be accused of sexual assault. The first was former music director James Levine, with whom the BSO has also discontinued its relationship.
Hypnagogic hallucinations are vivid, bizarre sensory experiences that can arise on the edge of sleep. They can immerse us into into weird worlds, stretching a few moments of real time into what may feel like hours. They may seem surreal, even magical — testaments to the ineffable power of the subconscious.
These phenomena came to mind listening to Matthias Pintscher’s new cello concerto, “un despertar” (“an awakening”), which received its world premiere Thursday night via the Boston Symphony Orchestra, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and guest conductor François-Xavier Roth. Though not a direct adaptation of the Octavio Paz poem from which it takes its title, the concerto encompasses the untethered, hazy feeling of the text. Weilerstein, a profoundly physical player with a dark and intoxicating timbre, was the perfect guide through the piece’s nebulous and unpredictable sonic landscape. Music seems to move through her viscerally.
For the Boston Globe. March 24, 2017.
“It seemed a new universe was being born onstage, a cosmic egg crisscrossed with intervallic paths. Set against passages of chromatic haze, consonances and triads resounded with extra luminosity.
I momentarily looked around for what I thought was a collective sigh from the crowd only to find that the cellos had slid downward en masse, and later I mistook a trombone’s high keen for a yawn or a cry. The music created the illusion of human voices, the purest representation of breath, and time seemed to expand and contract with the spectrum of sounds.”
For the Boston Globe. February 24, 2017.
Boston Symphony Orchestra w/ Hélène Grimaud, Nov. 8
That time the Boston Globe trusted me with reviewing the BSO season’s most anticipated opera. “Rosenkavalier:” Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Franz Hawlata, Erin Morley. Andris Nelsons conducting.