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The BBE has returned from its first ever Northeast Tour... or first ever tour, really! We judge it a success: appreciative audiences, great music, and no one killed each other! The program, entitled "Britain, Bacchus, and Early Music," featured both classical and folk music of Scotland and the British Isles, drawing in part from the first ever Scottish opera The Gentle Shepherd, and Calliope, or English Harmony.


The Trip

Our happy trio--Brandi Berry, Thomas Aláan, and Phil Spray--headed out east on June 6th. Crossing through the Indianapolis, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the group took a slight detour to Niagara Falls and, being so close to Toronto, was tempted to go all the way with an international tour. Unfortunately, Thomas can't swim, and Phil wouldn't let him use the violone as a raft, the group continued on through New York into Massachusetts. After a 20 hour drive, our wandering minstrels arrived at the happy home of Alexa Shabecoff and Roger Bertling. (Thanks, Alexa & Roger, for welcoming us into your home that first night; and also to Lisa Dealy & Tony Sager, who shacked us up for two nights. We had an awesome time!)

Boston Early Music Festival

On June 8th, the group performed at Cathedral of the Holy Cross as part of the official Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concert Series. The hall was not only beautiful, but the acoustics were fantastic and the trio had no issue being heard in such a large hall. (Thanks to music director Leo Abbot and the cathedral for their generous use of space and warm welcome!)

Hartford and New York City Concerts

On June 9th, our heroes headed to Hartford, Connecticut to play Christ Church Cathedral, and on June 10th performed in New York City at St. Luke in the Fields. Both spaces were beautiful with spectacular acoustics! At St. Luke in the Fields, situated in Greenwich Village, the BBE experimented with an open concert whereby they flung open the doors. Surprisingly, the concert attracted a large number of young passers-by who joined the concert throughout the evening. (Many thanks are due to Joshua Anand Slater (Hartford) and David Shuler (NYC) for hosting our concerts, and to Laurence Libin and Robin & Bob McConnell for allowing us a place to crash along the way!)

Beat Hôtel

Back in Boston, the BBE played the Beat Hôtel, a bar and brasserie, on June 11 to a dinner crowd. The BBE is the first classical group, let alone period instrument group, to play the venue. Bringing classical music to "the people" in places outside traditional venues is something the BBE loves to do--and wants to do more of! Friends and fans came out for an expanded BBE program, which included additional drinking songs, fiddle music, and dance numbers. The BBE received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the audience, staff, and our terrific sound engineer! (Special thanks to Bruce Ferrara for booking us!)

So what's next?

Having recovered from an 18 hour drive back to Chicago on June 14, the BBE is now further researching the music of Scotland specifically, and the British Isles more broadly, to expand the "Britain, Bacchus, and Early Music" program. The BBE is also planning a 2016 tour, heading south to Texas and other Southern states. Stay tuned!