Alexis Smith

Recent Posts

Aug 09 2018

Sasha Callahan on Restoring Intimacy to Chamber Music

Posted by Alexis Smith on Aug 9, 2018 4:34:42 PM | 0 comments | Boston, Interviews

Generally my editor likes these articles to be around a thousand words, I can usually pare down to around 1200 or so, but in talking this week to Sasha Callahan I simply couldn't cut anything. (Get ready readers, you’re in it for the long haul!) Sasha, who co-founded the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival along with her husband, cellist Leo Eguchi and her sister, has so much passion and enthusiasm and joy for chamber music that it's just infectious and well-worth reading about.

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Aug 01 2018

Amy Smith Talks About Boston's Magical Melting Pot of Belly Dancing History

Posted by Alexis Smith on Aug 1, 2018 11:26:56 AM | 0 comments | Boston Scene

This week I had the chance to interview Amy Smith, founder of Belly Dance New England and member of the Origins Folkloric Dance Company. Amy has been researching Boston’s rich history of belly dance and how borders do not equal disparate cultures.

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Jul 20 2018

Ben Hires of The Boston Public Library is Creating a Synthesis of the Arts, Accessible to All

Posted by Alexis Smith on Jul 20, 2018 3:40:44 PM | 0 comments | Interviews

Boston Public Library’s new Director of Strategic Partnerships, Ben Hires, has used his multifaceted background to embrace what it means to be an artist as citizen and looks forward toward a future of cross-collaboration.

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Jul 02 2018

Peter DiMuro: Finding Commonality Between Words

Posted by Alexis Smith on Jul 2, 2018 12:33:27 PM | 0 comments | Interviews

Peter DiMuro views art as a window into humanity. He believes art to be a great unifier meant to reach wide bodies of people and bring them together into a shared experience. A little while ago, I spoke to Maria Finkelmeier about the magic of bringing a large group of people together to experience the same thing at the same time. There’s an intimacy and magic in shared experiences. During these fractured times, it seems as if it is more important than ever to be open to sharing experiences and learning to find the commonalities that we all share as humans. In the wake of Anthony Bourdain’s death, let us be reminded that these bonds can be found in the most unexpected and simple of places to create new friendships and open dialogue.

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Jun 12 2018

Kathleen McDermott: Divas as Pioneers of Women's Rights Through Grit and Spectacle

Posted by Alexis Smith on Jun 12, 2018 3:58:34 PM | 1 comment | Interviews

Today, the term diva has pejorative connotations as someone who is temperamental or hard to work with or self-absorbed and uncompromising. Yet in the classical world, divas were goddesses. Literally. In Latin, diva means “goddess.” In my opinion, divas were bad-ass bosses who fought tooth and nail to survive. They were larger-than-life women because they had few legal or economic protections. They were idolized onstage but treated as social outcasts in person. A man could have a diva mistress but never marry her. There’s the famous story of diva Adelina Patti being pursued by a prince who, for an entire season, night after night sent her jeweled brooches, necklaces, or bracelets with the note: “It is I. It is I again. It is always.” Yet jewels were always more than shallow display for divas; gems were an integral part of their life savings.

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Jun 01 2018

Mark Gould: Orchestra Confidential

Posted by Alexis Smith on Jun 1, 2018 11:19:16 AM | 0 comments

When I was a kid, Harry Potter was all of the rage and with it, trying to typecast yourself in specific Hogwarts houses—was I brainy like a Ravenclaw, conniving like a Slytherin, or maybe brave like a Gryffindor? Hopefully anything but silly Hufflepuff.  My friends and I obsessed about it until we realized that we were band geeks and in lieu of having any sort of social status, we had something almost as good: a predetermined ratings system in the form of instrumental stereotypes. (Maybe I was a Hufflepuff after all.)

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May 25 2018

Dawn Simmons: Lifting Up a Community Through the Diaspora

Posted by Alexis Smith on May 25, 2018 5:02:09 PM | 0 comments | Interviews

Last week, I had the chance to talk with Betsi Graves, director of Urbanity Dance, and we spent a lot of time talking about the importance of collaborating with artists across various fields. Why would she be the one designing a costume, when Boston is so filled with incredibly talented costume designers? Why pay a high fee to use the rights to a pop song and choreograph a dance to it when you can find a fantastic Boston-based composer who is looking to work with a dance company? Why not collaborate and challenge each other stretch the ways of thinking? To create something greater than you previously imagined you could do?

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May 15 2018

Urbanity Dance: Creating Symbiosis and Community

Posted by Alexis Smith on May 15, 2018 3:04:58 PM | 0 comments | Interviews

One of the themes of this blog and the interviews that it runs, is the theme of having to do a little bit of everything. Whether it was Phoenix Artistic Director Matt Szymanski talking about how to juggle conducting with social media marketing, Ryan Lott talking about understanding classical music as a way to enrich his electronic samples, or soprano Julia Bullock bringing a program of both Schumann and Nina Simone to the concert stage, it seems that variety is the spice of art. Artists and non-artists alike are lucky to be in such a hub as Boston, where everywhere you look, people are curious and hungry for more. Coming from New York, I think of Boston as a town on steroids, we have all of the industry and niche pockets of a city, but somehow Boston has a smaller, more neighborhood feel. Boston has an ecosystem built out of neighborhoods and networks rather than an ecosystem built out of the individual. To me (and this is just my own personal speculation), this creates a more fertile ground for creativity.

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May 09 2018

Building a Bridge Instead of a Wall

Posted by Alexis Smith on May 9, 2018 4:18:44 PM | 0 comments | Interviews

What do musicians do if they’re extroverts? When your profession requires you to be alone roughly eight hours a day, how does an extrovert not go crazy? For Lina Gonzales-Granados, the solution came in the form of becoming a conductor. Originally a pianist, the Columbian-born conductor realized at a very young age that she needed to be around people so she looked for the musical profession that involved the most amount of people and she found conducting.

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May 04 2018

"Never look at the trombones; it only encourages them."

Posted by Alexis Smith on May 4, 2018 10:43:47 AM | 0 comments | Interviews

Trombone often gets a bad rap. Whether it’s thought of as the teacher’s voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons or as the sad trombone sound effect, I think we can all agree that sometimes the trombone is seen as the instrumental buffoon. I, a trombonist, was once offered $200 to follow a fat guy around and mock him à la Family Guy. (Seriously, I went to Juilliard for this.) Unbeknownst to most people, composers revered the trombone, using it to depict solemnity, death, and the depths of Hell. Felix Mendelssohn is quoted with the saying, “The trombone is too sacred for frequent use.” and even Beethoven likened the trombone to the “Voice of God”. Maybe these guys were hacks, but history doesn’t seem to think so.

That’s where the Boston Trombone Project comes in. Established just last year, the Boston Trombone Project aims to act as an ambassador for the trombone and expand awareness of just how versatile the trombone can be. This week, I sat down with Dr. Mike Tybursky and Alex Knutrud to talk about the upcoming Boston Trombone Project concert being performed on May 7 at 7pm in Cambridge, oh—and yours truly will be performing a solo in it!

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