▣The Orpheum | Boston, MA ▣Thursday April 12th 2018
On Thursday night, April 12th, Boston was treated to a beautiful night of classical music and literature readings by Bill Murray, Jan Vogler, Mira Wang and Vanessa Perez when they brought their New Worlds tour to the Orpheum Theater, located in the heart of Boston. It was an enchanting and memorable night.
It all started with an idea Bill and Vogler had- to embrace literature and classical music, through an album that would explore the various times of American identity. Bill and Vogler sparked a friendship when they shared a flight a few years back. Realizing they both shared some of the same interesst in music and literature, the idea for the album New Worlds was born.
Why the name ‘New Worlds’? Murray was quoted saying “We’re a group: A lady that was born in Venezuela, a lady that was born in communist China, and a man that was born in communist East Berlin. And I’m a fella from around Chicago. We’re talking about America as equals.” Needless to say, the had a very good idea on their hands. Let’s take a deeper look at the geniuses behind the album and live performances.
On the piano is the Venezuelan music artist Vanessa Perez. Perez has been playing since the age of 11, when she began studying under Luminita Duca. Shortly after she was asked to perform in Caracas, the capital of Venezuala, for her concert debut performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Orquesta Sinfonica Municipal and conductor Carlos Riazuelo, to a sold-out 2,500-seat auditorium. By 1998, the president of Venezuela had awarded Perez the Jose Felix Ribas Prize, the highest honor awarded to a young performer for contributing to the artistic enhancement of the country. Since, Perez has performed all over the world, collaborating with renowned classical musical names. She frequently performs in the Americas capitals of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Peru, as well as with symphony orchestras all over the U.S.
On violin is the incredibly talented Chinese artist, Mira Wang. The Beijing child prodigy has made a name for herself on the world stage as a profound soloist. She studied at the Central Conservatory, and was shortly sponsored by renowned violin teacher, the late Roman Totenberg, to further her studies at Boston University. She graduated summa cum laude and received the prestigious Kahn Award, given to outstanding performers. Mira has recorded extensively for many labels including Sony Classical and Edel Classics. She has appeared as a soloist with many prestigious orchestras all over the world including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and NDR Philharmonic Hannover.
On the cello, the co-funder of the project, is the German born Jan Vogler. He first studied under his father Peter Vogler, later studying with the likes of Siegfried Palm. At the age of 20 he won the principal cello position of the Staatskapelle Dresden in Berlin, becoming the youngest player in the history of this orchestra to hold that position. Vogler has performed as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan Philharmonic (NSO), and Vienna Symphony. He currently lives in New York with his wife, who just happens to be Mira Wang. Vogler is the driving musical force behind New Worlds album and live performances.
And then there is Bill Murray- the Award-Winning American actor, comedian, and writer. Murray has starred in the films Caddyshack, Srippes, Ghostbusters, What About Bob, Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation, just to name a few. He is not a stranger to singing and performing, getting his first start ion Saturday Night Live. Many of the characters in the skits he was portraying, were singing roles- and he was actually pretty good at it. New Worlds is definitely a different style of performance for the actor, but it has shown us a different, softer side of Murray.
The New Worlds album is packed with numbers produced by Murray and Vogler. Bringing to life pieces of art dating back to 1600’s, and making us remember the beauty in those pieces. On the album and during the live performance, Murray as both singer and narrator, brings his charm and wit to songs by Foster, Gershwin, and Bernstein as well as readings of classic American poetry and prose by Whitman, Hemingway, Twain and others. He mixes his dialogue with Voglers singing Stradivari cello, Wang’s enchanting violin playing, and the dangerously enticing piano playing of Vanessa Perez. The New Worlds live performance premiered in June, first at Germany’s Dresden Festival, and then in America at the Napa Valley Festival in July of 2017. The group then embarked on The New Worlds World Tour, which is due to continue in Germany on May 31st at the Theater Gutersloth.
On April 12th at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, there was a sold out crowd anxiously awaiting the performance. Doors opened at 7pm, but by 8pm much of the crowd was still trying to find ourselves inside for the beginning of the performance. At 8:15pm they finally called the 2-minute curtain call to start of the show.
There wasn’t an empty seat in the house when Vanessa Perez, Mira Wang, and Jan Vogler made it to the stage, starting us off with a classical medley. The crowd responded to their presence, but when Murray came on stage, the crowd certainly lit up for the well known actor. The night was nothing but magical from the start.
I was allowed to shoot the first three numbers from the back by sound, and although I was taking it all in, it wasn’t until I was asked to take a seat that I really started to fully enjoy the show. Murray and Vogler really had taken care of how everything was presented to their audience. It was perfectly executed, and all of the numbers were so well performed by the group.
Perez is a extrordinary pionist, that can deliver precision and power on every note. Wang’s violin playing was so touching, enough to bring the sensitive kind to tears. Vogler is the engine behind this well oiled machine- providing the right kind of dynamics and passion to make it all come together perfectly. Murray was so charismatic and full of personality, he put his own twist on every number. And to me, the show proved to be a breath of fresh air from my usual rock/metal shows that I’m used to.
The numbers by Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story of Somewhere, I feel Pretty and America, had me clapping and singing along. While, Mark Twain’s reading of Huckleberry Fin by Murray had me at the edge of my seat. Also, when they covered The Lovin’ Spoonful, Do You Believe In Magic, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. My favorite part of the night was when the group covered, Saint-Saëns: The Carnival Of The Animals – The Swan, while Murray read Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton. Murray was delicate, uplifting , and so moving to watch. The music and the poem worked so brilliantly together, like a perfect dance, just lovely.
At the end, Murray was presented with a large bouquet of roses as a thank you for the amazing night. He then thanked the crowd by throwing the roses into the audience, sending the crowd into a complete frenzy as everyone tried to get a flower from the one and only Bill Murray. He threw them up into the balcony, and walked around handing them to the people in attendance. Smiles and laughter filled the room. He eventually made it back on stage to recognize the other members of the group, and with a few bows together, it was over. It was the perfect way to close the night and one that would not be forgotten.
If you get chance to see, Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends, New Worlds, don’t miss it! It is a beautiful literature production, with amazing classical music numbers, and a touch of magic by Murray. I only encountered one disappointment- I was hoping to meet him after the show but didn’t get the chance. Thanks for the magic, until next time Bill!
Review & Photos: Carlos Londono
Check out the groups’ website for more info!
Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends