As I look back, April really has been an eventful month, particularly in the last couple of weeks. I’d be remissed if I didn’t take the time to highlight some of the events that makes Boston a vibrant community for classical music as well as everything from sports to pop culture. So, I thought I’d highlight a couple of instances where Classical music met not-so-classical events in a big way. Check out this double-header.
Fenway’s 100th Anniversary
This baseball season marks the 100th year for the historic Fenway Park. And on April 20th, the park was honored in the best way Boston knows how—standing ovations for its visiting greats and an impassioned game with franchise rivals, the New York Yankees.
But the celebration’s crowning moment—for me at least—was the Boston Pops’ performance of “Fanfare for Fenway,” written especially for the event by legendary American composer John Williams. While you might be more familiar hearing his music accompanied by visions of Harrison Ford—complete with whip or wookie—this piece was a truly memorable benchmark for the Pops during on this particular day. Williams led the orchestra through 3 minutes of energetic brass and flourishing passages with Red Sox players past and present as the back drop. It made me truly proud to be a part of Red Sox Nation, regardless of their recent struggles.
Death Cab for Cutie and the Magik*Magik Orchestra
Fast forward to the very next day, across town in the theater district; a much different sound attracted concert-goers and rock fans alike. Seattle-based indie-rockers Death Cab for Cutie are currently touring North America with a decidedly different aesthetic than they’ve ever achieved. For this tour, they have joined forces with the Magik*Magik orchestra from San Francisco. The result? Exciting arrangements of the foursome’s infectious tunes accompanied by sprawling color from 8 Magik*Magik string players; the latter are getting their first taste of the on-the-road, rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
While I know several people who attended the Boston show, I missed out on tickets and had to hop a train to Providence to catch the show. It was worth it. I’ve seen the band a few times, and I’ve seen a few “Pop-meets-Classical” concerts before (See: The Boston Pops and their innovative mash-ups with acts like Ozomatli and Ben Folds). But, this experience presented an un-pompous take on what can often be an exaggerated gimmick (See: Metallica S&M with the San Francisco Symphony). There was a mutual respect as Death Cab allowed the orchestra to shine in new passages and fresh adaptations, while Magik*Magik held back during the quiet moments, letting the band’s dynamic contrast—a characteristic aspect of Death Cab’s sound—shine through.
Make sure you catch Death Cab for Cutie next time they’re in town. While I’m a huge classical music fan, I think there’s a lot to be said for the band’s careful presentation of indie-pop in an almost orchestral way. Here’s a video I took at the show of “Passenger Seat” accompanied by Magik*Magik.