Special to the Times
For Michael Maler, the latest chapter started during the pandemic, specifically with the shuttering of Boston’s theaters, concert halls, and other performing arts venues. But as so often is the case when tragedy closes a door, he said a new window of opportunity also opened for him.
“If one subscribes to the ‘dark cloud-silver lining’ philosophy, the opportunity afforded to small and mid-sized cultural sites—which have often historically lingered in the shadows of their larger counterparts—came in the form of their ability to offer performance space for an arts-starved public,” said Maler, the past Metro-Boston Regional Site Administrator for Historic New England, as well as a Temple Street resident.
As COVID-19 begin to wane, and people began to venture back out to public spaces, the intimate settings of historic house museums, historic societies, and other non-traditional arts venues proved to be the “panacea” they needed, said Maler, ushering in what could be best described as a post-pandemic renaissance of the Boston arts scene. And against this backdrop, Maler found the opportune time to launch his latest venture, Crescendo Productions.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive from venues, performing artists, and audiences alike, providing affirmation that this type of programming is not only desirable, but critical to sustaining the historic and performance vitality of downtown Boston’s neighborhood communities and suburbs,” said Maler. “In just a few short months, there are more than a dozen programs in the works; many of them happening on and adjacent to Beacon Hill.”
Crescendo Productions will kick things off with “Mozart and Haydn at King’s Chapel,” featuring renowned Viennese fortepianist Daniel Adam Maltz, on Sunday, May 21, at 5 p.m.
“When presenting concerts like this, it’s important to consider and appreciate that this is not just another piano performance, but a performance on an instrument that would have been familiar to and used by these composers themselves.,” said Maler. “And unlike hearing a performance in a large symphonic hall, King’s Chapel provides a more intimate period-appropriate venue. This intersection of history, place, and art is really at the heart of what Crescendo Productions is all about.”
After this inaugural outing, Crescendo Productions will continue to offer programs and events throughout the year showcasing various other artistic disciplines.
On Dec. 9, Crescendo will be collaborating alongside award-winning artistic director Bryn Boice to present a theatrical multi-media reading of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” at the historic Omni Parker House.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to help bring one of our favorite literary works to life this holiday season,” says Boice, who, among her many credits, is Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education and Training for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.
This production will feature actor Johnny Kinsman, soprano Ann Moss, and classical violinist Justin Ouellet, who will all bring to life the timeless, uplifting tale about curmudgeonly old Scrooge. But staging this production at the Parker House has added an additional layer, said Maler, which makes the iconic landmark hotel the perfect venue for this literary classic.
“Dickens himself was a guest at the hotel during the 19th century and practiced reading ‘ A Christmas Carol’ in the mirror that still hangs inside the hotel,” Maler noted.
Crescendo is also collaborating with West End Museum Executive Director Sebastian Belfanti and Gina Naggar, Music Director of the New England Film Orchestra, to present a program that pairs live orchestral music with silent film. One of the short films re-tells the life of Abraham Lincoln and features John Wilkes Booth, who, according to Maler, “many don’t know has a strong connection to Boston—and coincidentally was a guest of the Parker House. “
“The West End Museum is excited to work with Crescendo Productions to bring new and exciting programming into our calendar,” said Belfanti. “Films about Lincoln and his assassination are an interesting first step, allowing us to share a surprising connection between the West End and one of the most impactful moments in U.S. history.”
Also in the works for Crescendo is an event slated for the fall in conjunction with the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Museum of African American History, which Maler describes as a “joyous musical program” honoring 19th century abolitionist and educator Susan Paul.
Crescendo will also bring actors center stage as Theater in the Open performs Oscar Wilde’s comedic satire “Lady Windemere’s Fan” this August in the garden at the Forbes House Museum in Milton, where Executive Director Heidi Vaughan will have the site’s historic fan collection on display for the occasion.
Tickets to “Mozart and Haydn at King’s Chapel” and Information about other upcoming Crescendo performances is available online at crescendoproductions-arts.com; via email at [email protected]; or by calling 207-815-0023.