“I call this project “soft traces and unstable vectors.” It is situated at Alewife, in what one might call the ‘wild west’ of Cambridge, a place where one encounters a series of relentlessly traced layerings of the urban condition, more like concrete brushstrokes rather than a congealed city. There is a sense of theatrical passage, even when standing still. A highway. Some trace of savage swampland. The forlornness of parking. Squirrels.
On the day following her amazing recital with Katherine Chi at Jordan Hall, Paula Robison and I met at the house she shares with her husband, Scott Nickrenz, with its bird’s eye view of Frederick Law Olmsted’s house and garden. In the hour or so we talked we covered a lot of ground: the concert, her preparations for it, and some of the music she played…we talked about Sidney Lanier, the poet, linguist, and self-taught flute virtuoso, who died at 39 of tuberculosis contracted as a Confederate prisoner of war, and Charles T. Griffes, who died at 35 of the same disease, leaving behind a remarkable body of exploratory compositions, Paul Taffanel, the founder of modern flute playing and the teacher of Ms. Robison’s teacher, the great Marcel Moyse.
Years ago it was pretty much unthinkable to dine after an evening concert in Symphony Hall, unless you happened to find a Hayes Bickford that was open all night. It’s still not easy to find a place where you could relax and converse for a couple of hours without feeling rushed, much less being surrounded by floor sweeping, the overturning of chairs, and a glaring waiter. I do know a few places in the neighborhood that are open late, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Brasserie Jo, however, is one restaurant—a five minute walk away—where I’d feel comfortable settling in after a concert. The main menu remains available until 11 pm Monday through Saturday, and a bar menu takes over until 1.30 am. It’s also worth noting that lunch is served until 3 pm—a small blessing for us tardy folk and busy guests in the Colonnade Hotel.
This thoughtful and lively program of Baroque and modern music is typical of the Cantata Singers, who in recent years have been building their season programs around a single composer, this year Heinrich Schütz, the greatest predecessor of the central figure in the group’s mission, Johann Sebastian Bach. This gave me an opportunity to continue our podcast series in conversation with David Hoose, the Cantata Singers’ Music Director for the past 26 years. Since then Mr. Hoose has been one of the central figures in the Boston music scene.