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THE BOSTON CAMERATA REMEMBERS: HIGHLIGHTS OF 2008

January: The original “Tristan and Iseult” CD, rewarded with the Grand Prix du Disque on its initial appearance in 1986, is reissued by Warner Classics. In the opening days of the year 2008, we also present “Tristan and Iseult” for the first time ever in Paris and the Paris region. Joel, who has gotten mellower over the years, remarks that this twenty-two year hiatus was but the blink of an eye, or something of the sort. We are pleased by the reissue, and that the Paris show sold out four months early.

February: “Tristan” plays on our local series, with original cast members Azéma, Lepkoff, and Cohen recreating their original roles, alongside some gifted newcomers. In a reception at the French Library following the Boston performace, Anne Azéma is presented to longtime friends and supporters as Camerata’s newly appointed Artistic Director. An emotional moment.

Late February, eight singers plus Joel rendezvous with the Tero Saarinen Dance Company of Helsinki for an extended tour of “Borrowed Light” in Australia and New Zealand. An awesome experience, we opine collectively. Besides observing koala bears, kangaroos, and kookaburras, we give ten performances, including eight dance shows and some American music concert-only events.

March: We return midmonth from the last performances in New Zealand, victims almost to a man and woman of a truly monster, day-for-night jetlag. We console ourselves at 3 A.M. by reading over our press clippings.“Stunning,” said the Sydney critic. “Ravishingly beautiful,” said the Wellington paper. Ultimately, we readjust to Eastern Standard time, and we are looking forward to another tour Down Under in 2010.

April: “Alla Turca,” presented in collaboration with the Dünya Turkish Music Ensemble, is Joel Cohen’s last production as Camerata’s Music Director. The concert, and Joel’s tenure, end with his in-your-face arrangement of the Mozart “Rondo alla Turca,” for early music ensemble and janissary band, and with a gale of laughter.

August: Camerata friends and donors crowd onto a lovely ketch for a tour of Boston harbour. But Aeolus is acting up, and all present, supporters and musicians, remain dockside. This does not prevent us from downing a few, and singing a lot.

October: We celebrate marriage, Italian-style, with a new production at the Gardner museum, our fourth exhibition-related commission from this estimable institution. “Vieni Imeneo” reprised at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida in March, 2009. In the center ring, as it were.

November: Five days after the presidential election, Anne débuts as Camerata’s Artistic Director with “Land of Pure Delight: In Search of the American Soul.” The fifers fifed, and the drummers drummed; we all needed something like this. Just about everyone in the audience joins us for a celebratory, post-concert dance.

December: Warner Classics issues a special, three CD compilation, “A Boston Camerata Christmas.” We tour with “The Brotherhood of the Star: A Hispanic Christmas.” In the last days of December, an English critic opines: “Azéma is an inspired choice as new Artistic Director.” Invited by American Public Radio and by France Musique, we start to prepare some special event programming, around the January 20 presidential inauguration, for national audiences at home and in France. A very happy 2009 to you all!