David Bowie’s vast cultural influence on millions of people can’t be overstated. The late British star recorded Blackstar—his final album—in secret, releasing it days before his death. Composer/conductor Evan Ziporyn has now transformed Blackstar into a stunning new arrangement for cello and orchestra. “Cello goddess” (The New Yorker) Maya Beiser joins Ziporyn's Ambient Orchestra featuring musicians of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee to bring this new version to the concert hall.
For both Beiser and Ziporyn, the ambitious project is a personal one. “To me and my generation, Bowie gave us a model for what it meant to be an artist and to live a creative life. When I heard Blackstar, just days before his death, I felt right away I was hearing an extended, substantive masterpiece, music with a truly symphonic scope," Ziporyn explains. Beiser added, “David Bowie was so versatile, and he was always exploring and evolving as an artist. He never settled for the easy path. And he himself, as a person, was the totality of his art.”
Maya Beiser, described by Rolling Stone as “a cello rock star," has captivated audiences worldwide with her virtuosity, eclectic repertoire, and relentless quest to redefine her instrument’s boundaries. Conductor and arranger Evan Ziporyn’s eclectic music connects the dots between contemporary classical, jazz, pop, and world music. He undertook this project because, “my musical mind was continually expanded by David Bowie. Blackstar, his final masterpiece, has a wide palette of sounds and an emotional arc that are nothing like any rock record I’d ever heard. I immediately felt that it could and should be orchestral, and that Maya was the perfect cellist to bring Bowie’s ‘voice’ to the orchestral world.’
The team will be joined on a multi-city tour by contemporary classical music students from Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The institution, widely known for its deep historic roots in classical music, is consistently pushing boundaries and is placing an increased emphasis on contemporary classical music and chamber work, perfectly embodied by this project. The opportunity to perform and tour with such prestigious musicians is unmatched. The Conservatory’s Dean of Music Michael Shinn is thrilled with the collaboration. “I am excited and grateful for this tremendous opportunity for Boston Conservatory at Berklee contemporary classical music students,” said Michael Shinn, Dean of Music for Boston Conservatory at Berklee. “The Blackstar tour embodies the Conservatory’s mission to amplify classical music’s cultural relevance in the 21st century, and encourages students to embark on a meaningful artistic journey.”