Berklee World Strings opened the evening with tango, folk, and jazz infused repertoire that set the stage for the rest of the evening’s contemporary and genre-bending program. But the 150-student string department is not just comprised of the conventional orchestral stringed instruments – mandolin, banjo, and harp players are included too. And the variety in instruments, genres, and musicians was phenomenal.
My favorite acts included the bluegrass ensemble Chasing Blue, the dueling jazz violinists Eli Bishop and Ben Powell [see the video at the end of this post], and the magnetic Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys, especially the aforementioned leader who drew whoops and hollers from the audience. And, of course, whether performing or speaking passionately about his vision for the String Showcase, Jakub Trasak owned the night.
Like any new endeavor, though, the showcase had its hiccups, from poor transitions, technical difficulties with video playback, and other rough edges that characterize the String Showcase as the younger cousin of the more polished Singers Showcase (at least, so I’m told, since I’ve yet to attend a Singers Showcase). But overall, the mistakes were few and I’m sure they’ll smooth them out for next year’s String Showcase, which I’m greatly looking forward to attending.