by Christopher Blagg

Rockport Music is taking a cue from the many jazz artists who have graced the stage of the Shalin Liu Performance Center. We are learning to improvise. No live audiences? No problem. We are bringing the music to your homes, expanding our Concert View virtual music series through the winter season

In a stroke of great luck or perhaps wise foresight (maybe a combination of both), Rockport Music had recently installed three state of-the-art cameras in the hall to help augment our video library and online presence. Little did we know that we’d be going all virtual in the coming COVID future, but these cameras have become our way of keeping the music alive until normalcy returns. We’ve all been handed lemons so we’re making some lemonade.

There’s a nice sampling of classical, jazz and folk music artists coming to Rockport for our virtual Concert View series. We have already hosted several outstanding chamber music duos, with the boundary-crossing pair of clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and marimbist Mika Stoltzman performing Brahms, Bach and Ennio Morricone, followed by rising star violinist Timothy Chooi and lauded pianist Max Levinson who joined forces to perform Grieg’s powerful Sonata No. 3.   On January 1, we present a New Year’s special, hosting the Handel & Haydn Society’s Guy Fishman (cello) and Ian Watson (harpsichord) for an evening of exquisite Baroque music with works by Gabrielli, Scarlatti and more. In the new year, we will host the fantastic Dover Quartet (they were originally scheduled for November but had to postpone), an ensemble our Artistic Director Barry Shiffman called “the hottest quartet on the scene today.” Then, the lauded Sarajevo-born pianist Pedja Musijevic will perform a program of Haydn and John Cage in February.

For jazz enthusiasts there are a handful of virtual concerts coming this fall and winter. Just last week we were treated to the sultry vocals of Alicia Olatuja, a singer combining elements of jazz, R&B and world into her unique, intoxicating hybrid. On December 4 saxophonist (and Rockport Jazz Workshop Director) Alexa Tarantino brings her quartet to Rockport for a post-bop showcase of original compositions and reworked standards.  In the new year we are so excited to host iconic pianist Kenny Barron in his return to Rockport on January 15, a special virtual show that will have a small ticketing fee.

The Concert View series will also include a healthy sprinkling of virtual folk music concerts. A few weeks back the Boston-based Celtic duo of fiddler Hanneke Cassel and cellist Mike Block performed their joyous infectious take on Cape Breton and traditional instrumental folk. Next week (November 20) we’ll be bringing back the phenomenal Tim Gearan, a singer-songwriter and guitarist that has steadily become a Boston/New England roots rock legend. In time for Christmas (December 18) we are thrilled to share Brian O’Donovan’s beloved Christmas Celtic Sojourn. Stay tuned for more details coming later this week regarding guest artists and ticket details.