The Celebrity Series of Boston is a non-profit organization whose mission is to present performing artists who inspire and enrich the community. It believes that by bringing culturally rich music, dancing, and public events to Boston, in turn, these performances will transform lives and build better communities. The Celebrity Series was established in 1938 and has since continued to present renowned artists at venues across Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. The artists perform in places ranging from Jordan Hall, located in the New England Conservatory, to public streets in Greater Boston. They are one of the nation’s most highly regarded independent presenting organizations. Partnering with established, internationally-acclaimed artists and emerging talent they curate a diverse lineup of performances. They have performances almost every night, showcasing the true talent of many uprising artists at non-costly prices.
Igor Levit, a German-Russian pianist, started his career at the age of three. He was taught by his mother Elena Levit and in his childhood, began studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Although through the early 2010s, Levit won prizes and performed within the European nations, it was not until 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, that he became well-known around the globe. He began live-streaming his performances and pretty soon attracted thousands of viewers. In 2021, Levit announced his multi-year collaboration with the Boston Celebrity Series.
Igor Levit’s performance instantly captures the audience’s attention, both by his intense and intriguing touch, and the way he evokes emotions. Even from the first note, Levit reeled in his audience, keeping them at the moment throughout his hour-long concert. Later, it was revealed that until 5 minutes before showtime, he was sleeping backstage, trying to shake off his jetlag. Despite this, during his showing of Beethovan’s “Last Three Sonatas,” he captured many emotions through his tension between light and playful, and heavy and powerful playing. This exaggeration caused the audience to go on a roller coaster of emotions, at one moment happy and excited, and suddenly, the next, in a dark and almost scary atmosphere. By the end of the meticulous and marvelous performance, everyone in Jordan Hall, people ranging in age from 8 years old to 80 years old, stood up and gave Levit a standing ovation for his wonderful playing.
The Doric String Quartet is based in the UK and was established in 1998. Currently, its members consist of Alex Redington and Ying Xue on violin, Helene Clement on viola, and John Myerscough on cello. The quartet was formed for a London String Quartet Foundation and performed in the UK area until the late 2000s. In 2008-9, the quartet took their first tour to Japan, and in the following year, made their American debut. Since then, they tour the US annually, with concerts in New York, Washington, and most recently, Boston.
The Doric String Quartet, like many other well-known quartets, worked together to express their music, passing the melodic melodies to each other, while accompanying backgrounds. Their first piece, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 11, started with a rush of excitement, introduced by all 4 musicians, surprising the audience. After the initial uptake in energy, the quartet began to settle down, falling into more calming and peaceful playing, passing the melody from first the violins, to the cello, then to the viola. This soothing tone did not last long, for many times during the piece, the violins and cellos would come in with an angry and harsh sentence, shocking the audience. After this, Beethoven was followed by a more lively and carefree piece, written by Haydn, it was nicknamed “The Frog.” The piece jumps between the violins and cello, each with its own distinct melodies. The audience during the piece felt joyful and lighthearted, for the music flowed in all directions, like a river with no distinct current. Finally, the quartet introduced a fifth musician, Benjamin Grosvenor on the piano, to finish the concert with a piano quintet composed by Frank Bridge. Although the piano served mostly as an accompaniment, its relaxing and intricate sub-melodies filled all the slightest gaps in the quartet’s playing. Like Beethoven, Bridge’s quintet fights between the viola and cello’s contrasting melodies and in the last sentence, resolves into the original D-minor chord progression. A sense of relief is felt over the whole audience, and similar to Levit, Jordan Hall is filled with a standing ovation for the quintet.