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Staff Pick

Strings, Sax, and a Dash of Sass

September-October 2014

Concert music soars at the Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall

Concert music soars at the Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall

Photograph by Nic Lehoux 2013/Isabella Stewart Gardner Musuem

Aiming to “mix up genres and provoke the audience,” says A Far Cry violinist Alex Fortes ’07, the chamber orchestra performs Béla Bartók’s Divertimento for strings, then joins saxophonist Harry Allen to explore the 1961 musical work Focus. Composed by Eddie Sauter for Stan Getz, the tenor saxophonist improvises against a score for strings. Why the pairing? Bartók’s piece “broke new ground in form and craft,” Fortes says. Bartók also championed Sauter, whose lead movement in Focus, “I’m Late, I’m Late,” echoes Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. The self-conducted A Far Cry has 17 young musicians (including Sarah Darling ’02 and Miki-Sophia Cloud ’04) all intent, Fortes says, on “inspiring and enlivening an audience through performance of classical music—broadly defined.” The group has released five albums, performed with Yo-Yo Ma ’76, D. Mus. ’91, among others, and is in residence at the Gardner Museum. 

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Robert Humphreville, a frequent Harvard Film Archive accompanist, says he’s mostly asked to play comedies, especially from “the big three”: Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. (A scene from Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. appears over his shoulder.)

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