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Forgoing football for a bit of baroque

I love football, and I love the Patriots (and I’m from New York, so that’s a big deal). You know that song that goes, “I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday night”? Well, for me, it’s “I’ve been waiting all week for Sunday” so I can watch three or four games —I don’t even care who’s playing. But this Sunday I won’t be watching the afternoon games: I’ll be at the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra concert in The Memorial Church. And what could drag me away from my Sunday of football? Two words: Doug Balliett.

Doug Balliett ’07 is a double bass player, and he’s good. He first came to my attention when he was selected to be in the first class of Artist Development Fellows in 2007. During the fellowship, he worked on his CD The Retelling, which retells Homer’s Odyssey. But I didn’t listen to the CD until after I saw him perform in ARTS FIRST that year; in the spirit of Fred Ho ’79, Doug was on the Yard Stage painted green and singing Sir Psycho Sexy with his band. The performance was shut down because of the “colorful” lyrics, but I thought it was great and was impressed that college kids in 2007 knew one of the formative albums of my youth by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Since leaving Harvard, Balliett has done quite a bit (read about it here and here, and see him perform here) and all of it is impressive. In addition to getting a master’s at Julliard in Historical Performance and his other musical pursuits, he has a radio show which streams 3 p.m. Thursdays on WQXR, NYC’s classical radio station, with his twin brother, bassoonist Brad Balliett. They have a 10-point manifesto that guides the show:

1. We are the Brothers Balliett.
2. We believe that the best music is the music that excites the best curiosity, excitement, passion and conversation.
3. We believe in music that bears repeated listening and offers something new with each visitation.
4. We believe that stretching the ear is a way to stretch the mind.
5. We believe in the continually ceaseless creativity of composers everywhere.
6. We believe that music must reflect the time in which it was written, and that all eras deserve representation.
7. We believe that great nations should strive to attract and support great artists.
8. We believe in absolute artistic freedom, unfettered by trend or dogma.
9. We believe that the power of ideas, creativity, and personality can shape a city’s character.
10. We believe in the groove.

Doug Balliett '07

Now Balliett is back in Cambridge to perform with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra in a concert of “gorgeous and goofy” music called Dragonetti Diaries: Inside the Mind of a Prodigy. The concert description is great reading and ends with: “Bassist Douglas Balliett returns to Harvard for a pyrotechnic tour de force: fistfuls of small notes on a very large instrument!” So the question is: Why are YOU not going to the concert? There’s football every weekend, but this concert is only happening once (and you can make it home in time to watch the 8 p.m. game).

Dragonetti Diaries: Inside the Mind of a Prodigy will take place 4-5:30 p.m. on November 18 at Harvard’s Memorial Church. Tickets are $10, students and seniors $5, available through the Harvard Box Office.

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