Boston Landmarks Orchestra (photo courtesy of Harron & Associates.)
As familiar as I am with the arts scene here in Boston, I’m always impressed how many free offerings there are to take advantage of, and how many include educational or outreach components.
The Boston Landmarks Orchestra [BLO] is a perfect example. A professional orchestra, the ensemble exists to maximize accessibility to music. This year, in addition to its regular series of free performances at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, many of them collaborations with other area ensembles, the orchestra is premiering “Notes in the Neighborhoods,” an initiative that dispatches musicians to summer programs and camps in the city’s various neighborhoods, bringing kids to concerts there or at the Hatch Shell.
The goal is “20/20 Vision”: “By the year 2020,” music director Christopher Wilkins writes on the orchestra’s site, the BLO “will provide all residents of Boston’s 20 diverse neighborhoods opportunities to be involved in its programs both at the Hatch Shell and in the neighborhoods.”
On Friday August 3, Wilkins will take students at the Yawkey Club of Roxbury on “a ‘Caribbean Cruise’ through the culture of several Latin American nations,” he told me, giving them “the opportunity to play percussion instruments while exploring countless features of rhythm in music.” Among the works on the program is a commissioned work by Gonzalo Grau called Viaje (Voyage).
“We know that in many cases we are collaborating with children who have no formal musical training,” Wilkins told me. “The wonderful thing about Viaje is that it invites children to bring their own experiences to the music. Some sing, some dance, some play musical instruments. Some are of Dominican or Puerto Rican descent, and know these traditions from their upbringing. And every child can relate to the joy and vitality of these songs and dances, which are now popular throughout the world.”
The Maestro Zone led by Benjamin Vickers
(photo courtesy of Harron & Associates.)
Meanwhile, the regular programming continues. Next Wednesday in the Hatch Shell is a co-production with the Boston Lyric Opera, Around the World in 80 Minutes. A “sweeping operatic journey” with stops in France, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and Sri Lanka, the concert features excerpts of works by Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, and Bernstein, many drawn from the Opera’s upcoming season.
On August 15, the orchestra joins with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for an all-Mozart program; August 22 it will highlight its own musicians as soloists; and August 29 it will present Symphonic Shakespeare, in which Shakespearean actors perform excerpts from Henry V, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to music composed for those plays.