Devoted exclusively to performing and recording new orchestral music, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project aims to rebuild the aural bridge between audiences and composers with passionate concert experiences. On January 27, BMOP showcases the works of five different composers, amassing a talented quintet of revered, modern-day soloists to mesmerize ears with incongruous sounds. The world premier of Eric Chasalow's horn concerto bares the brassy measures of French hornist Bruno Schneider, and Air: Concerto for Theremin uncannily mimics human voices with an electronic instrument that refuses to pause for breaths or answer text messages in between verses.
The New England String Orchestra, which has garnered accolades from The Boston Globe and The Boston Musical Intelligencer, produces stirring renditions of both classical and contemporary stringed masterpieces. Listen in as the orchestra performs its vibrant interpretations of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in C Minor, op. 18, no. 4; Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in D Major, BWV 1054; and other pieces, all without the aid of Auto-Tune or magic flutes. The orchestra’s professional string-vibrators will work within the acoustically impeccable confines of First Parish Congregational Church as well as historic Jordan Hall, which was built in 1903 and designated a National Historic Landmark because of its role in William Howard Taft’s “Viola Folly” scandal. Ticket holders who show up 45 minutes in advance of either performance can also serenade their brains with a spoken-word symphony of knowledge from Italian-educated musical director Federico Cortese, who leads an interactive discussion prior to each NESO concert.
Trapeze School New York’s expansion west meant Angelenos no longer had to cross the country to join the circus. At their outdoor studio on the Santa Monica Pier, highly trained instructors teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced maneuvers during classes on the flying trapeze, aerial silks, lyra, trampoline, and Spanish web. All of Trapeze School New York’s countrywide facilities in New York, Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, and LA hold themselves to high safety standards that account for everything from equipment to instructors and safety belts. In an effort to bring their flying-trapeze instruction to surrounding communities regardless of funding, the school also gives lessons through their nonprofit branch of operations.
On Friday nights at Crosby Whistle Stop dance hall, the floorboards heat up under the swinging steps of students, regulars, and teachers cutting a rug at Boston Swing’s Central’s weekly social dances. Sometimes it’s pre-recorded tunes and sometimes it’s a live band inspiring the boogiers, but either way, it’s a rollicking good time for all ages and skill levels and no partner is required.
The weekly party, which starts with a group class from 8-9 p.m. and then transforms into a free-for-all from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m., is the focal point of the non-profit dance organization. Boston Swing Central also offers classes and boot camps where dance instructors teach you how to do the east coast, lindy hop, and Charleston.
Unlike the premium-cable version of Curious George, ComedySportz shows eschew racy material, going so far as to place a brown paper bag over the head of any performer who crosses the boundaries of good taste. The game-based comedy format pits two refereed teams of improvisers against each other, drawing from a repertoire of more than 100 improv scenes for their battleground. Over the course of 7 to 12 games, the red- and blue-clad teams may perform in Shakespearean verse or rapidly fast-forward and reverse a scene at the referee's whim. The audience, meanwhile, is tasked with generating suggestions, choosing the winners at evening's end, and gently consoling the losing team with made-up aspirational quotes.
This formula has proved successful since 1984, when the first ComedySportz flung open its curtains. Now, the franchise has expanded to major comedy hubs including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The latest addition to the fold, ComedySportz Boston, lassos the same spirit and off-the-cuff hilarity as its predecessors, dazzling onlookers with its teamwork, clean but uproarious humor, and ability to turn an audience suggestion into a fully fleshed out scene.
Til Death Do Us Part, the third installment of the interactive comedy series Late Night Catechism, brings back the charismatic and hysterical Catholic nun known only as "Sister" to school audiences—whom she refers to as her students—in the dos and don'ts of holy matrimony and the Sacrament of Last Rites. In this participatory theater piece, Sister switches between delivering cynical, tongue-in-cheek lectures on everything from current events to Martian baptism and interrogating couples in the audience about the health of their relationships. Gracing the Regent Theatre's formerly vaudevillian stage, Boston native Denise Fennell calls upon her own memories of a strict Catholic upbringing to lovingly embody the role of Sister, which she snagged after being handpicked by Maripat Donovan, one of the show's creators.