• The Carnegie Hall Season in Review: World, Pop, and Jazz

    Throughout the 2010–2011 season, Carnegie Hall continued its commitment to presenting a wide range of world, pop, and jazz artists.

    Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista brought the passion and virtuosity of Brazil’s rich musical heritage to Zankel Hall with his re-interpretation of the folk music by that country’s most famous composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. A few days later, the extraordinary South African trumpeter-composer Hugh Masekela performed in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. The African theme continued later in the month when Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread merged contemporary American jazz with traditional African folk melodies in Zankel Hall.The New York Pops’ Carnegie Hall season kicked off with a bang when Steven Reineke and the orchestra were joined by Finnish vocal ensemble Rajaton for The Music of ABBA. The Indigo Girls—Amy Ray and Emily Saliers—were up close and personal in Zankel Hall, performing the folk-rock stage show they’ve been honing since the mid-1980s. Finally in October, Carnegie Hall–regular Michael Feinstein was accompanied by star of Glee and 30 Rock—Cheyenne Jackson—in a program titled The Power of Two at Carnegie Hall.

    November—a month that brought the world to the Hall—started off with the virtuosic Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, singing and strumming ukuleles in a performance that featured a collision of post-punk performance and toe-tapping oldies. In 2010–2011, Brad Mehldau became the first jazz artist to hold The Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair. For the first concert of his residency, he was joined by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for the New York premiere of his Highway Rider. The jazz continued to flow in Zankel Hall when Chris Potter Underground performed the next night. The brilliant Afro-pop star Angelique Kidjo brought The Sound of the Drum to a packed and exuberant Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. She was joined that night by Youssou N'Dour, Dianne Reeves, Omara Portuondo, and Romero Lubambo.Ghazal Ensemble brought together the closely related traditions of Indian and Persian improvisation, while experimental music duo The Books mixed electronica, folk, and acoustic music with samples of video, sounds, and speech—both in Zankel Hall. The second New York Pops concert of the season celebrated the music of Stephen Sondheim with the composer’s 80th Birthday Celebration.

    For the Pops' traditional pair of holiday concerts this season, Steven Reineke and the orchestra were joined by Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell for a celebration of the season with carols and traditional favorites. Martin Sexton also performed a solo holiday show, bringing his insightful lyrics and soulful singing to Zankel Hall.

    A frozen January in New York was warmed up by the melodies of Uruguayan Jorge Drexler's Zankel Hall concert and Doc Severinsen's El Ritmo de la Vida, the former Tonight Show bandleader joining The New York Pops for an evening of sizzling new Latin music, featuring Argentine tango, Spanish flamenco, and gypsy jazz. Brad Mehldau's second concert of the season saw him bring his unique artistic vision to bear on music by Bach, Brahms, and Fauré, as well as his own works.

    In February, the sparkling husband-and-wife jazz piano duo of Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes performed an evening of jazz and American popular song. Longtime collaborators Anne Sofie von Otter and Brad Mehldau reunited in Zankel Hall with an eclectic program that included the New York premiere of the expanded version of Mehldau's Love Songs, commissioned by Carnegie Hall. Michael Feinstein returned with a host of guests for Happy With the Blues: The Music of Harold Arlen. Finally in February, Nassima brought a concert of the Arab Andalusian music of Algeria that harks back to the Moorish courts of medieval Spain.

    Brad Mehldau and Anne Sofie Von Otter (Jennifer Taylor)
    Brad Mehldau and Anne Sofie Von Otter in Zankel Hall. Photo by Jennifer Taylor. 

    March was another month of musical and geographical diversity at Carnegie Hall. Brad Mehldau's residency continued with Piano Power, in which he showcased the instrument that made him a jazz star. The concert included the premiere of his Carnegie Hall–commissioned Rock ‘n' Roll Dances Nos. 3 and 4. Fifty years after her legendary Carnegie Hall concert, The New York Pops remembered Judy Garland with "Over the Rainbow," "The Trolley Song," "The Man That Got Away," and other gems from her historic 1961 performance. British folk legend Richard Thompson came to a sold-out Zankel Hall, mid-month. Standard Time with Michael Feinstein continued in March with Irving Berlin and Jerry Herman ... A Couple of Swells. Brazilian Tropicalismo exponent Gal Costa performed her sensuous music in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. We returned to the JapanNYC festival that month with Deerhoof—the Tokyo / San Francisco avant-rock foursome—performing at (Le) Poisson Rouge; exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese taiko drum, Kodo performed at Avery Fisher Hall; and Shamisen duo Yutaka Oyama and Masahiro Nitta brought a modern sensibility to an ancient, highly percussive folk music in Zankel Hall.

    JapanNYC continued in April when legendary pianist-composerToshiko Akiyoshi led a tour through the history of jazz piano, with her husband, tenor saxophone virtuoso Lew Tabackin. The Gaddabouts—Edie Brickell, Steve Gadd, Pino Palladino, and Andy Fairweather Low—had their live debut in Zankel Hall. Pioneers of Cuban son, Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro de Cuba also came to Zankel Hall and performed its infectious and classic repertoire of rumbas, boleros, and mambos. The unparalleled interpreter of the American Songbook, Michael Feinstein, returned to our stage in April with Too Marvelous for Words ... Remembering Margaret Whiting.

    Masahiro Nitta and Yutaka Oyama (Christopher Smith)
    Masahiro Nitta, left, and Yutaka Oyama, right perform during JapanNYC. Photo by Christopher Smith. 

    Almost 40 years after his Carnegie Hall debut in 1971, April and May saw James Taylor's Perspectives series. In this unique residency, this Grammy Award winner revealed his true breadth as a musician and his evolution as an artist. Taylor hosted four programs during the series. In these concerts, he celebrated Carnegie Hall's 120th anniversary (Gala); revisited his musical roots with some of his musician friends (Roots); shared his love for his instrument of choice (Guitar Conversations); and provided a fitting end to the 2010–2011 season of world, pop, and jazz at Carnegie Hall (Quintessential James Taylor and His Band).

    The best world, jazz, and pop artists perform in Carnegie Hall again throughout 2011–2012. For more information on the upcoming season and how to buy tickets, check out these pages:

    The Originals featuring:
    Audra McDonald
    Boston Pops
    A Tribute to Motown
    Around the Globe featuring:
    Goran Bregovic & His Wedding and Funeral Orchestra
    Sweet Honey In The Rock
    Asha Bhosle: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
    The Chieftains
    The New York Pops
    Standard Time with Michael Feinstein
    World Views featuring:
    Aurelio Martinez
    Rhythm of Rajasthan
    Muzsikás
    Lo Còr de la Plana
    Cheikh Lô
    >The Shape of Jazz featuring:
    Joe Lovano Us Five
    Ambrose Akinmusire Big Band
    Ben Allison
    Gretchen Parlato and Lionel Loueke
    Rudresh Mahanthappa