Boston Landmarks Orchestra

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Boston Landmarks Orchestra
Founded2001; 23 years ago (2001) in Boston, (U.S.A.)
FounderCharles Ansbacher
Headquarters545 Concord Ave Suite 318,
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Key people
Christopher Wilkins (Music director)

Boston Landmarks Orchestra is a professional orchestra located in Boston, Massachusetts, that performs free concerts during the summer. Since 2007, the orchestra established an annual concert series at the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade. It was founded in 2001 by conductor and community advocate Charles Ansbacher.[1] Its current music director is Christopher Wilkins, who is also the music director for the Akron Symphony Orchestra.

Historically, Boston Landmarks Orchestra performed at many "landmarks" around the city, including the Boston Common, in the Charlestown Navy Yard, and atop the bullpens in Fenway Park.


Founding and Early History

Founded in January 2001, the first Boston Landmarks Orchestra concert took place on July 13, 2001 at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre. An early mission of the orchestra's was to highlight the city of Boston's rich history of public spaces. In a 2002 interview given to the Lowell Sun, founder and then-conductor Charles Ansbacher described the Boston Landmarks Orchestra as "a new orchestra that gets its name because, in general, we try to perform at landmark locations... That is our main mission: to bring historical music to historical places."[2] After noticing that there was "little symphonic classical available in Boston in the summer," Ansbacher decided to take matters into his own hands. He was inspired by the Mostly Mozart Festival, put on by Lincoln Center every summer, but decided that this new festival in Boston "needed to be outdoors, and free, but classical in nature." To Ansbacher, "classical in nature" meant to be familiar and accessible, "falling somewhere between the lightness of the Boston Pops and the seriousness of the Boston Symphony Orchestra."[3] In the first six years of the orchestra's existence, they performed 90 free concerts, which were attended by over 100,000 people.[4]

Move to the Hatch Shell

Beginning in 2007, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra began a nine-week concert series at the Hatch Memorial Shell, located on the famous Charles River Esplanade. The first of these concerts, and the first time the orchestra ever performed on the Hatch Shell stage, took place on Wednesday, July 11, 2007.[5] Since then, the orchestra performs on Wednesday nights at the Hatch Shell throughout the summer, with smaller community concerts continuing to take place across the greater Boston area.

Recent History

After the passing of Charles Ansbacher in 2010, Christopher Wilkins was named as the new music director of Boston Landmarks Orchestra in 2011.

Community Engagement and Accessibility

Community Engagement

Known for their collaborations with many community artists and organizations, Boston Landmarks Orchestra also founded its own One City Choir, consisting of volunteer Boston-area singers.[6] In addition to performing with members of the local community, Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Education and Outreach program offers free and interactive musical activities to youth in the greater Boston area through community concerts, musical playgrounds, and collaborative projects. In 2019, the orchestra held these events in communities including Everett, Massachusetts,[7] Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts,[8] and on historic Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in Boston.[9]


The organization's Breaking Down Barriers Initiative works to be more inclusive and accessible for members of the community who are blind, deaf, hard of hearing, and those limited in mobility. Boston Landmarks Orchestra has earned the UP Designation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their work in accessibility.[10]

Notable Performances

"Boston Landmarks Orchestra at Fenway Park," July 7, 2010

Declared the "first symphonic concert" at Fenway Park, Landmarks performed a selection of "light classics and Americana" pieces on a temporary stage built on top of the bullpens. 15,000 tickets were put on sale for the concert and sold out within four days.[11] Due to Fenway Park's status as one of the most iconic landmarks in Boston, Charles Ansbacher brought the idea of Landmarks performing there to then-Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino. Lucchino liked the idea and the concert was set.[12] Speaking about the Landmarks concert, Lucchino said that the Red Sox were "proud to host the Boston Landmarks Orchestra for a free public concert at Fenway Park... with its historic traditions, [Fenway Park] is a most fitting venue for the orchestra."[13]

Full Program

  • Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland
  • American Fantasia by Victor Herbert
  • Chicken Reel by Leroy Anderson
  • "Hoedown" from Rodeo by Copland
  • Overture to The Barber of Seville by Giacchino Rossini
  • William Tell Overture by Rossini
  • Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9 in D Minor "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • --Jayne West, soprano, Mary Westbrook-Geha, mezzo-soprano, Matthew DiBattista, tenor, Robert Honeysucker, bass
  • --New World Chorale, Holly Krafka, Director
  • The Jackie Robinson Story by Julian Wachner with text by Swanee Hunt
  • --Governor Deval Patrick, narrator
  • Espana by Emmanuel Chabrier
  • Selections from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein

"I Have a Dream," August 28, 2013

Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, the orchestra's program included pieces representative of themes in King's speech, such as "freedom of expression, fairness of economic opportunity, individual responsibility, and collective action."[14] For this concert, Landmarks wanted to use an ASL translation of the "I Have a Dream Speech." Upon discovering that none existed, the orchestra commissioned the very first one to be made, with the full blessing of the King Estate. Created by then-Boston University student Richard Bailey, the translation was performed at the Hatch Shell during the August 28 concert.[15]

Full Program

  • Battle Hymn of the Republic by William Steffe arr. Wilhousky
  • Three Spirituals from A Child of Our Time by Michael Tippett
  • --Michelle Johnson, soprano, Davron S. Monroe, tenor
  • Cry, the Beloved Country (excerpts) by Kurt Weill, adaptation by David Drew from Lost in the Stars with readings from Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country
  • --Governor Deval Patrick, narrator, Michelle Johnson, soprano, Davron S. Monroe, tenor
  • 'Martin Luther King' from Three Black Kings by Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington
  • --Andre Ward, alto saxophone
  • I Have a Dream by Lee Hoiby
  • --Philip Lima, baritone
  • Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland with James Westwater's The Eternal Struggle
  • --Governor Deval Patrick, narrator, James Westwater, photochoreographer, Nicholas Bardonnay, photochoreographer

"Deep River," August 1, 2019

In 2019, the orchestra and One City Choir performed a concert titled "Deep River," referencing the famous spiritual by the same name. The program contained only music written by Black Americans, such spirituals and works by George Walker and Robert Nathaniel Dett. The centerpiece of this concert was selections from the musical Show Boat. Written by Jerome Kern, Show Boat is a musical as famous as it is controversial, long-criticized for promoting harmful Black stereotypes.[16] The orchestra held a panel open to the greater Boston community on July 23, 2019 titled "Who Should Sing Ol' Man River?" at WBUR's CitySpace in Boston. The panel's conversation covered topics pertinent to Show Boat's controversies and the orchestra's "Deep River" program as a whole. Such topics included "questions of language, dialect, history of black music, and cultural appropriation" as well as "where we go from here."[17] Panelists included musicologist Dr. Todd Decker, author of two books about Show Boat and its place in American culture, Alvy Powell, a baritone who has sung "Ol' Man River" for the last six sitting presidents, and Rev. Emmett G. Price, III, a scholar of music of the African Diaspora and the Black Christian Experience.[18]

Full Program

  • Festive Overture by William Grant Still
  • Lyric for Strings by George Walker
  • Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel arr. Lawrence Brown
  • --Alvy Powell, bass-baritone
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho arr. Margaret Bonds
  • --Sigourney Cook, soprano
  • I Got a Home in that Rock arr. Margaret Bonds
  • --Sigourney Cook, soprano
  • He's Got the Whole World in His Hands arr. Margaret Bonds
  • --Alvy Powell, bass-baritone
  • Deep River (from A Child of Our Time) arr. Michael Tippett
  • --Sigourney Cook, soprano, Myran Parker-Brass, mezzo-soprano, Davron S. Monroe, tenor, Hon. Milton Wright, bass
  • The Chariot Jubilee by Robert Nathaniel Dett, orch. Hale Smith
  • --Davron S. Monroe, tenor
  • We NEED to TALK: Work for Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra by Fred Onovwerosuoke
  • --Tai Oney, countertenor, Jonas Budris, tenor
  • The Show Boat Concert by Jerome Kern
  • --Jennifer Ellis, soprano, Sigourney Cook, soprano, Carolyn Saxon, soprano, Matthew DiBattista, tenor, Alvy Powell, bass-baritone
  • --Coro Allegro, One City Choir, Members of Black Nativity, Members of New England Spiritual Ensemble



  • Two Tajik Sentiments by Tolib Shahidi
  • MAMBO!!! by Thomas Oboe Lee
  • Three Benjamin Franklin Dances and May We Live in Peace by Patricia Van Ness


Make Way for Ducklings by Daniel Pinkham, text by Robert McCloskey


The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Julian Wachner, text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


  • Pluto by Thomas Oboe Lee
  • The Journey of Phyllis Wheatley by Nkeiru Okoye, text by Carolivia Herron
  • Chamber Symphony by Michael Weinstein (joint project with New England Orchestra Consortium)


  • Lifting the Curse: A Story of the Red Sox by Julian Wachner, text by Bill Littlefield
  • Dance Suite for Orchestra by Jeremiah Klarman


  • David and 'Old Ironsides' by Larry Thomas Bell, text by Constance Leeds
  • Absolutely Fearless for Orchestra and Children's Chorus by Stephen Feigenbaum


  • John Adams: The Voice Heard 'Round the World by Anthony DiLorenzo, text by Marion R. Carlson
  • Speak, Sing, Whale by Stephen Feigenbaum


The Story of Frederick Law Olmsted by Thomas Oboe Lee, text by Nancy Stevenson


Caribeña (Caribbean) by Miguel del Aguila|Miguel del Águila


  • The Queen and the Conjurer by Boston Landmarks Orchestra collaboration with Conservatory Lab Charter School, work by Michael Gandolfi for double orchestra
  • At the River by Anthony Paul De Ritis


  • At the River by Larry Thomas Bell
  • Griot Legacies by Trevor Weston


  • At the River by Francine Trester
  • Cirandadas by Clarice Assad
  • The Swordfishers by Donald Krishnaswami
  • Andean Suite by Gonzalo Grau


  • Elements by Gonzalo Grau
  • Mabinte by Ryan Edwards and Patrick Greene
  • Hermana Frontera (Sister Border) by Gonzalo Grau


  • Aleppo Songs by Kareem Roustom
  • Views by the students of Zumix, orchestration and guidance by Gonzalo Grau
  • Santiago in the Stream by Ryan Edwards and Apostolos Paraskevas


  • Anke Dje, Anke Be by Jake Gunnar Walsh and Devin Ferreira
  • Oceana by Stella Sung
  • Pegasus Promendade by the students of Zumix, orchestration and guidance by Gonzalo Grau


  • Papa Loko by Gonzalo Grau
  • Choucounne by Anthony Green
  • Full Circle by Jake Gunnar Walsh and Devin Ferreira

External Links


  1. Sampan, "Boston Landmarks Orchestra announces summer 2019 free concert series at DCR’s Hatch Memorial Shell", "Sampan", May 9, 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  2. Robinson, Matthew, "Landmarks Orchestra Celebrates History in Lowell," Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA), September 22, 2002.
  3. Symkus, Ed, "Orchestra Makes 'Duck' Tour," Newton Tab (Needham, MA), June 18, 2003.
  4. Hecker, Virginia, "Boston Landmarks Orchestra," Catalogue for Philanthropy (2007).
  5. Domelowicz Jr., Joseph, "Boston Landmarks Orchestra Brings Classical Music to Hatch Shell," Back Bay Sun (Boston, MA), July 6, 2007.
  6. Michael Levin, "Sing live with Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s One City Choir at the Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell in Massachusetts in July 2019", Robb Report Singapore, May 31, 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  7. "Instrumental Learning", Everett Independent (Everett, MA), July 12, 2019.
  8. "Summer on the Emerald Necklace: Boston Landmarks Orchestra", Emerald Necklace Conservancy, accessed January 29, 2020
  9. "Current Season", Boston Landmarks Orchestra, accessed January 29, 2020
  10. Boston Landmarks Orchestra, "Breaking Down Barriers Accessibility Initiative", Boston Landmarks Orchestra, 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  11. Eichler, Jeremy, "Beethoven in the Bleachers," Boston Globe, July 9, 2010.
  12. Weininger, David, "Landmarks and Hallmarks in Fenway Fete," Boston Globe, July 2, 2010.
  13. Boston Red Sox, 2010, "Boston Landmarks Orchestra Plans to Hold Special 10th Anniversary Home Run Concert at Fenway Park on July 7, 2010 in partnership with the Boston Red Sox."
  14. Wilkins, Christopher, "Program Note," Program notes for "I Have a Dream" Fiftieth Anniversary Concert, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston: Hatch Memorial Shell, August 28, 2013.
  15. Friday, Leslie, "MLK's 'I Have a Dream' Speech, in ASL", BU Today (Boston, MA), August 28, 2013.
  16. Madonna, Zoe, "A Deep Look at 'Show Boat' with Landmarks Orchestra", Boston Globe, July 25, 2019.
  17. "Exploring Theatre, Nature, Space, and More, Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Christopher Wilkins Talks Depth and Diversity in Free Summer Concert Series", The Sleepless Critic, August 11, 2019.
  18. Wilkins, Christopher, "Spirituals and Show Boat on the Deep Charles River, Boston Musical Intelligencer, July 28, 2019.

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