“Cheikh Lô has a voice that can move from a prescient whisper to a searing gut cry… an eclectic composer and arranger who tries new ideas on every song” (NPR). Conveying a laidback funk within the rippling polyrhythms of Senegal’s signature mbalax, he cross-pollinates with Ghanaian high-life, Jamaican reggae, and Afro-Cuban beats that keep his band’s talking drums particularly chatty. With a gentle, high tremolo or sudden bass-line plunge, Cheikh Lô implores listeners to embrace peace, love, and steadfast spirituality; one needn’t be fluent in Wolof or Bambara to be carried away by his captivating voice.
The Alash Ensemble is ensemble from Tuva, a remote republic in southern Siberia, who practice the art of throat singing. Ensemble members also play a variety of traditional Tuvan instruments. They have won numerous international awards and have collaborated with collaborated with such diverse musical groups as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, beatboxer Shodekeh, and American classical musicians. A Washington Post review described their performance as “absolutely stunning.”
Advance | $20 adult $12 student $10 child
Day of Show | $25 adult $12 student $10 child
All money goes to the band.
With its expansive sonic imagination and innovative productions, Sō Percussion has redefined the scope of the modern percussion ensemble. From Out a Darker Sea is inspired by the denizens of Seaham, England, a coastal town that has struggled to reinvent itself after the crushing loss of its mining industry. Integrating art, narrative, photography, film, and an original musical soundscape performed live, Sō Percussion captures the environment, personal stories, and aspirations of a community fighting against industrial decline and determined to forge a new identity.
Betsayda Machado is hailed a model of Afro-Venezuelan soul for her dedication to a rich heritage of nearly obsolete musical traditions. The multi-generational band of her hometown, El Clavo, on the Caribbean coastline, are virtuosic musicians who have played together for nearly three decades, yet their music has rarely been performed—much less recorded—outside the region. Passion and power unite in complex percussive tempos and tight harmonies, anchored by Machado’s clear and thunderous voice, a thrilling embodiment of centuries of African tradition and musical influence in Venezuela.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the distinguished Brentano String Quartet is acclaimed for its interpretive power and seemingly limitless musical insight. Mark Steinberg, Serena Canin, Misha Amory, and Nina Lee return to the Williams Center with Haydn’s Quartet Opus 64, No. 2, a pivotal and expansive moment in the composer’s career, and Brahms’ penetrating Quartet in C minor. In between, representative of the Brentano’s typically brainy approach to program-making, is the idea to alternate movements of Schubert’s Minuets among Webern’s Bagatellen, thereby illuminating the younger composer’s reverence for the spirit of Vienna.
In defiance of years-long Taliban influence on local culture, Pakistan’s classical masters preserved their music and improvisational techniques underground, emerging in 2011 with an ambitious recording covering Western jazz standards on traditional instruments. The Sachal Jazz Ensemble’s angle on Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” went viral, earning them world-wide recognition and an invitation from Wynton Marsalis to perform at Lincoln Center. In this cross-cultural, genre-bending concert, works by Mancini, Brubeck, and Grusin converse with practices from a cradle of civilization on sitar, flute, sarangi, and tablas—truly the quintessence of “world music.”
An iconoclastic genius and prolific composer, Duke Ellington transcended boundaries to fill the world with a treasure trove of music. In a career spanning 50 years, Ellington wrote more than 3,000 songs, played more than 20,000 performances, and gave American music its own sound for the first time. JazzReach’s ELLINGTON!—an engaging, interactive, multimedia program designed especially for young audiences—illuminates the Duke’s musical achievements, from hit songs to blues riffs to extended suites and scores for stage and screen. The critically acclaimed Metta Quintet performs live for this inspirational story of a remarkable man, musician, and bandleader.
A lifelong seeker, musically and philosophically, saxophonist and NEA Jazz Master Charles Lloyd is the consummate musician’s musician. With The Marvels—no less than Bill Frisell (guitar), Reuben Rogers (bass), Eric Harland (drums), and Greg Leisz (pedal steel)—he explores layered improvisations, capturing a universe in a single, fervent song. “Follow the career of Charles Lloyd,” says The New York Times, “and you see a map of great jazz across half a century. His shows, full of momentum and intuition, perfectly represent the idea that the best jazz needs to be experienced live.”
“The amazing precision of ensemble that Orpheus displays without benefit of a conductor remains a marvel” (The Huffington Post). From Rossini’s cheeky Overture to Il signor Bruschino to the momentous finale of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, the virtuosity of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s collective musicianship is fully realized in this elegant program. The young Norwegian trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth, praised for her “quite astonishingly outstanding intonation” (Gramophone), makes her debut with the ensemble in two works—Albinoni’s Trumpet Concerto Opus 9, No. 2 and Bach’s Trumpet Concerto in D major.
The accomplished Danish String Quartet commands the great works of quartet literature with exceptional energy and an uncommonly fresh approach. Hailed for its impeccable technique, intonation, and balance, the quartet brings dynamic new understanding to Bartók’s Quartet No. 1 and Beethoven’s Quartet No. 7 on its Williams Center debut. Selections from its 2013 release Wood Works—centuries-old Scandinavian folk tunes, arranged for string quartet—will astonish and gratify. “Theirs is playing of unusual, and unusually effective, liberty. When at their best, their tone throbs with joy” (The New York Times).
Unequivocally enchanting, these seven superlative musicians from counties Waterford, Cork, Dublin, and Donegal have produced nine award-winning recordings and a multitude of fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Danú’s high-energy pluck bursts forth in exuberant slides, reels, jigs, and hornpipes, then plunges deep within the soul of Ireland to rend the heart with the most affecting ballads. Returning to the Williams Center is the young and abundantly decorated vocalist Nell Ní Chróinin, a luminous performer of the sean-nós style—the highly ornamented form of unaccompanied traditional Irish singing.
A heady blend of acoustic and electronic, East and West, poetry and politics, Niyaz’s richly textured arrangements, sweeping choruses, and velvety vocals—courtesy of front woman Azam Ali—take inspiration from Sufi poetry, Middle Eastern folk music, and the musicians’ experiences as 21st-century global citizens. It’s “Los Angeles meets New Delhi meets Tehran,” notes NPR, yet The Fourth Light Project is a world unto itself—a modern-day global trance experience, featuring one of the first female whirling dervishes and hypnotic body-mapping projections that respond to sound and movement in real time.
A theme emerges from any study of Fred Hersch’s “shimmering pianism” (Chicago Tribune): balance. Hushed and buoyant, meticulous and playful, delicate and eruptive, Hersch plays with unbounded imagination. His storied career is punctuated with remarkable pairings (Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Joe Lovano, Audra McDonald, and Kurt Elling, to name a few), and his trio work consistently draws such raves as “the players combine so effortlessly and gracefully that the music achieves a truly rare apotheosis” (Hot House Magazine). The Williams Center provides the perfect setting for an intimate, exuberant communion.
No musical pairing behind the tragic Winterreise has been more admired in recent years than that of Britons Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis. Named Musical America’s 2016 Vocalist of the Year, Padmore is celebrated on the world’s opera and concert stages for his expressive, sensitive, and pure tenor; by turns hopeful and despairing, his is surely the voice Schubert heard when he conceived this heartbreaking journey. Padmore’s profoundly moving interpretation is equally matched by Lewis’ grasp of the piano’s vital role, a triumph in live performance and on their award-winning Harmonia Mundi recording.