Boston Baroque’s newly chosen executive director, Miguel A. Rodriguez, has an extensive background in arts management, including past work at Opera Boston, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and Boston Musica Viva. He was trained as a tenor.
His more recent work, though, has been in grassroots political activism. Currently, he is finance director for Mainers United for Marriage, a group seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples in Maine. Before that, he spent two years as director of development for MassEquality, a Massachusetts-based LGBT advocacy group.
Rodriguez sees his new position — he begins on Oct. 15 — as a way to bring the skills from one world into the other. “I think that everything I’ve done in my work in political advocacy — fund-raising for grassroots advocacy — has given me a lot of lessons that I now want to apply to music, my passion,” he said during a brief phone interview this week.
Asked about his plans for the organization, Rodriguez mentioned reaching out more vigorously to the city. “How do we engage the community?” he asked. “How can we get this 40-year-old orchestra out of the concert hall without leaving the concert hall?” As an example, he cited the annual New Year’s Eve and Day concerts, among Boston Baroque’s most popular events, and mused about having them projected outdoors, to a larger audience. “I want the city to reclaim this orchestra as part of its identity.”
At the same time, he wants to increase Boston Baroque’s larger visibility by establishing a fund to support annual tours. “Rather than fund-raise for years for one tour, how do we do it on a yearly basis? So that we can not only further our mission in Boston, but have a presence outside Boston as well.”
One thing he feels no need to tamper with is the group’s distinguished musical achievement. “I’m coming into an organization that’s almost 40 years old and has a very high artistic caliber,” Rodriguez said, praising the work of music director Martin Pearlman. “What I’m looking forward to is, what is the next step?”
The Heron and His Holiness
When the acclaimed early music vocal group Blue Heron performs at MIT later this month, there will be one very special audience member in attendance: His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Scott Metcalfe, Blue Heron’s music director, wrote in an e-mail that the invitation to sing for the Dalai Lama was “pure serendipity.” It came from composer and MIT Media Lab faculty member Tod Machover, who is in the early stages of a collaboration with the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values — housed at MIT — on “the psychological, cognitive, and spiritual effects of singing on singers and listeners,” Metcalfe wrote.
Machover also turns out to be a fan of both 16th-century British polyphony and Blue Heron, so he and the center’s director, the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, invited the group to perform during the Dalai Lama’s Oct. 14-16 visit to MIT. Blue Heron will sing works by British composers Nicholas Ludford and John Mason. Metcalfe added that for one performance, the singers and a selection of audience members would be fitted with wrist bands that would make physiological measurements during the music.
Machover plans to analyze the data and present preliminary findings before the Dalai Lama’s teaching on meditation the next day.
Blue Heron’s performances are part of the three-day The Dalai Lama @ MIT 2012 program, for which general admission tickets are no longer widely available.
New BMOP season
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project will begin its new season with a concert performance of Michael Tippett’s opera “The Midsummer Marriage.” It will be the first New England performance of the 1955 work, which was originally scheduled to be performed this past February by Opera Boston, prior to that company’s sudden closing in 2011. The BMOP performance, on Nov. 10, can be seen as something of a follow-through by Gil Rose who is both BMOP’s artistic director and the former artistic director of Opera Boston. The opera, modeled in part on Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” tells of the hurdles that have to be overcome by two couples before they can marry.
The other bookend to the season will be “Gen OrcXestrated” (May 17), featuring works by three composers born in the 1970s. Two of them – Mason Bates’s “Desert Transport” and Huang Ruo’s “Path of Echoes: Symphony No. 1” – will have their first New England performances. The third will be the world premiere of “Natural Tendencies” by Andrew Norman, BMOP’s composer in residence.
Of the two programs in between, one spotlights the viola, with works by Chen Yi, George Perle, Chinary Ung, Gail Kubik, and Donald Crockett (Feb. 15). The viola soloists are Susan Ung and Kate Vincent, the latter of whom was the producer of Crockett’s recently premiered opera “The Face.” (Rose was the music director.) The other, punningly titled “Olly, All Ye, In Come Free,” features two works by the British composer Oliver Knussen, including the local premiere of his 1971 Second Symphony. Also on the bill are the winners of New England Conservatory’s concerto and composition contests and a new work by Michael Gandolfi. As advertised in the title, the April 14 concert is free.