My favorite concerts this year all happened outside the local club scene—three were at schools and one was at an arena. Two of the school concerts were associated with OrchKids, the BSO-sponsored after-school music program. In March, OrchKids collaborated with visiting musicians from London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and local students from New Song Academy, City Neighbors, and School for the Arts for a show at City Neighbors High School. The entire project came together in just a week and was one of the most ambitious and spirited shows I saw.
The most spirited show was definitely the Archipelago Project (with OrchKids director Dan Trahey on truba) in the hallway of Mary Winterling Elementary School during the last week of school. I couldn’t stop smiling. To see why, check out the video clip above.
In May, Peabody celebrated Gary Thomas’s tenth year as director of the jazz department with a concert featuring current and former students playing Thomas’s compositions. As I noted in a blog post, the results were revelatory. Thomas’s work can be knotty and difficult, but alums like saxophonists Russell Kirk and Jacob Yoffee opened it up, underscored its melodicism, and gave it a big-band sheen. “They made my music sound like music,” a smiling Thomas told the audience.
And in June, I saw Radiohead at the Verizon Center in D.C. The band put the likes of Bruce and Bono to shame and played the best arena show I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t a huge fan when I entered the building that night, and my seat was as far from the stage as you could get (it was practically in the next county). But over the course of two hours, Radiohead delivered a powerful and soulful set that completely converted me. I’m still not sure how they did it, and that combination of music and mystery continues to resonate months later.