iPlayer Radio What's New?
On Now : BBC Proms
Playing: Herr, unser Herrscher from St John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach
Image for Musical Boston

Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Musical Boston

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 23 April 2011

Tom Service travels to Boston, Massachusetts, to discover the music making in one of the United States' leading musical centres. He talks to clarinettist Richard Stoltzman who has made his life in the city and who revels in memories of playing clarinet with his father, rediscovering with Tom his very first clarinet after many years.

There's the latest on how Boston is at the centre of the El Sistema projects being run across the US. Based on the models of music education used in Venezuela, and now copied across the world, to help impoverished children get a better education, Tom visits a school in the Boston suburbs and discovers how some of the city's children's lives are being changed.

Boston has long been an important centre for composition, performance and music education, and a leading place for instrument makers. It's the home to some of the oldest musical establishments in the United States, including the Handel and Haydn Society - the country's oldest continuously performing arts organization. Tom meets members of the Society at the Harvard Musical Association on Beacon Hill in Boston, together with the music director of Boston Camerata Joel Cohen, and instrument maker Ingeborg Von Huene. In a wide ranging discussion they consider the importance of the early music revival in the city, how American music making differs from that in Europe, and how the country's politics will shape the musical future.

Producer: Jeremy Evans.

  • Richard Stoltzman

    Richard Stoltzman

    Two-time Grammy Award winning clarinettist Richard Stoltzman gave the first clarinet recitals in the histories of both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and, in 1986, became the first wind player to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize. He has been a soloist with more than a hundred orchestras as well as a recitalist and chamber music performer, innovative jazz artist, and prolific recording artist.

    Tom meets Richard at his home and talks about his late start with classical music, how Brahms changed his life, and his faith in Mozart's ability to speak to today's youngest generation.

    Find out more about Richard Stoltzman
  • Early Music in Boston

    Early Music in Boston

    Boston’s historic significance is reflected in its musical heritage: it has long been a leading centre for composition, performance, and instrument manufacture. The earliest documented public concert in America took place in Boston on December 1731 and the US premieres of both Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation took place in the city in the early 19th Century. The home of the American period performance and early music movements, there are several acclaimed ensembles in the city.

    Tom is joined by Joel Cohen of the Boston Camerata, Marie-Hélène Bernard of the Handel and Haydn Society, violinist Daniel Stepner, and instrument maker Ingeborg Von Huene at the Harvard Musical Association, to find out what 18th century music probably sounded like in the city, how New England's early music groups now compete with Europe's best, and how the past has much to offer the present in today’s Boston.

  • El Sistema USA

    El Sistema USA

    Boston is also home to El Sistema USA, modelled on Venezuela’s now legendary music education system. Programmes inspired by El Sistema already exist in many U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, LA, New York, Pasadena and San Antonio but the movement began at Boston’s New England Conservatory.

    Tom visits Conservatory Lab Charter School in the suburb of Brighton where the children, teachers, and El Sistema tutors explain the social and musical effects the scheme is having, and talk about the prospects more generally for music education in New England's schools.

    Picture: copyright Diane Griliches

  • Music at M.I.T

    Music at M.I.T

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has recently celebrated 25 years of ‘inventing the future’ – researching and envisioning the impact of emerging technologies on all aspects of life – including music. Composer Tod Machover leads several of the music projects including Hyperinstruments, a technology that uses smart computers to augment virtuosity, and the Toy Symphony, an international music performance and education project. His research group is currently examining ways to use music in therapy for emotionally and physically challenged individuals. His newest opera, Death and the Powers, features a robotic, animatronic stage--the first of its kind--that gradually “comes alive” and becomes the opera’s main character.

    Tod shows Tom round the Media Lab where he also meets the famed father of Artificial Intelligence Marvin Minsky (pictured), whose inventions include mechanical arms, hands and other robotic devices, the Confocal Scanning Microscope, and the "Muse" synthesizer for musical variations.


Free downloads

  1. Image for BBC World War One

    BBC World War One

    BBC Radio brings you stories of the war that changed who we are, with documentaries exploring the…

  2. Image for Music Matters

    Music Matters

    The latest news on classical music. Interviews with key UK and international performers, composers,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss