Happy New Year!

After years of thinking about it, I finally checked out Boston’s First Night festivities. What a fantastic array of arts and culture events to attend, all within walking distance of one another! Here are some notes:

The Post-Meridian Radio Players

The two radio dramas performed by this Somerville-based theatre troupe were awesome! The acting was excellent and the technical backup (a combination of live foley and pre-recorded effects) was flawless. The first performance, “Countdown to Chaos!” is a modern mash-up of 1930’s and 40’s science fiction. The second, “Chicken Heart,” is an original 1937 NBC radio program. Watching a radio show live on stage—complete with fake commercials and campy humor—takes some adjustment, but it’s a great time. Thanks to Rhode for suggesting this one.

Light and Serious Music for Organ

This AGO-sponsored concert, held at the Arlington Street Church, featured three performers at the helm of a very nice Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. The first organist, Brink Bush, performed the most technically complex pieces: Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G Major and the powerful finale from Widor’s Symphony No. 6. He was followed by Fredrick Guzasky, who apparently teaches piano at MIT. He provided the “light” part of the concert, which included an arrangement of John Williams’s “Theme from Jurassic Park.” Lois Toeppner concluded the show, and although I didn’t like any of her pieces (Mendelssohn?) I think I preferred her style of playing. Frankly I was expecting some Virgil Fox moments, and there were none. These players were subdued but quite competent.

Black Taxi

We arrived at this concert about two minutes before its midnight conclusion, so I can hardly say much about the band (the program promised “woozy pictures of Kerouacian misadventures”). But I liked the way they built a musical groove around the countdown!

Other thoughts about First Night: the events run like clockwork, starting and ending almost exactly as promised. That’s pretty impressive. But our attempts to get drinks in between events were less successful. There are surprisingly few bars within walking distance of the events, and a good majority of them were charging astronomical covers ($25?!) or completely closed to the general public. If I do this again, I’m bringing a flask.