Back to the Garden: The Artistry of Joni Mitchell takes place Thursday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. Tickets are $8, $13 in advance, $12, $17 day of show. Purchase tickets at berkleebpc.com, call 617 747-2261, or visit the BPC Box Office. Please note: Joni Mitchell will not be performing. Can’t make it to the show? This event will stream live on Concert Window.
The play is the work of students in the Advanced Music Theater Workshop, in collaboration with the Joni Mitchell Ensemble. Hit songs like “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Circle Game,” and “Both Sides Now” will be performed with new arrangements written by students and faculty. The production also features songs from Mitchell’s jazz collaborations, including “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” in which she put lyrics to a well-known Charles Mingus piece.
The Joni Mitchell Ensemble is comprised of nine musicians, hand-picked by Carrington, who recently won a Grammy for her album The Mosaic Project. “I only choose outstanding students,” said Carrington. “They are advanced to the point of sounding pro. They have the technique, good sound, and are steeped in the history of jazz, but they also work on their own voice. This stretches their abilities.” She also picked a student, Ben Lusher ’14, to serve as co-musical director, to give him additional experience and responsibility.
Paula Cole, a Rockport, MA native, will sing “A Case of You” and “Love” in the show. “As with many serious writers, my life’s work has a very high bar set by the uncompromising, inestimable Joni Mitchell,” said Cole. “Joni is among the very greatest contributors to modern music.”
Considered one of the most important female recording artists of the 20th century, Joni Mitchell is innovative and iconoclastic. Her music was always evolving, from deeply personal folk stylings in the 1960’s and ‘70’s to pop, jazz, and even world music. Back to the Garden is about that journey, Mitchell’s commitment to change, and her fierce unwillingness to compromise.
In addition to performing, students from all over the college are helping with stage managing, assistant directing, lighting, sound, graphic design, costume design, and marketing.