Calendar

Apr
7
Tue
Ballet Hispánico Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebration with 2020 New York Season at The Joyce Theater @ The Joyce
Apr 7 – Apr 19 all-day
Ballet Hispánico Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebration with 2020 New York Season at The Joyce Theater @ The Joyce

Ballet Hispánico Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Celebration with 2020 New York Season at The Joyce Theater

April 7 – 19, 2020

Ballet Hispánico, America’s leading Latino dance organization known for “piercing stereotypes” (The New York Times), kicks off its 50th Anniversary celebration by bringing its Latinx brand of contemporary dance to The Joyce Theater from April 7-19, 2020. Tickets start at $10 and are available for purchase in person at The Joyce Theater Box Office by calling JoyceCharge at 212-242-0800 or online at http://www.joyce.org/performances/ballet-hispanico.

To celebrate the Company’s 50th Anniversary, Ballet Hispánico’s Artistic Director & CEO, Eduardo Vilaro has curated a two week run at The Joyce Theater that celebrates and honors generations of Latinx artists. Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s 18+1 makes its New York premiere alongside the award-winning work Jardi Tancat from Nacho Duato. Excerpts of significant works in Ballet Hispánico’s history, including Vicente Nebrada’s Batucada Fantástica and Graciela Daniele’s Cada Noche…Tango return to The Joyce stage after nearly thirty years. As a gift to founder Tina Ramirez, the program will feature a duet from William Forsythe’s, New Sleep, a first-time collaboration between Ballet Hispánico and this world-renowned choreographer. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tiburones and Sombrerísimo, featuring an all-female cast, with returning repertory from Andrea Miller, Pedro Ruiz, Eduardo Vilaro, and Ramón Oller, round out the program.

The New York premiere of 18+1 (2012) celebrates Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s 19 years as a choreographer and the vulnerability, care, and hope that comes with each artistic endeavor. In a display of subtle humor and electric choreography, the movement merges with the playful rhythms found in Pérez Prado’s mambo music. Sansano draws from his history and memory to take a joyous look at the past, present, and coming future.

Nacho Duato’s very first work, Jardi Tancat (1983), based on Catalonian folk tales sung by Maria del Mar Bonet, won him first prize at the International Choreographic Workshop in Cologne. With equal shades of passion and melancholy, the ballet evokes the despairing yet hopeful prayers of Spaniards who wait for rain on their barren land.

William Forsythe’s duet from New Sleep (1987) is a neoclassical work scored by composer Thom Willems. This master work from Forsythe demonstrates his ability to deconstruct classical vocabulary maintaining a strict precision without confining the physical expression within the movement.

In Tiburones (2019), Annabelle Lopez Ochoa addresses the discrimination and stereotypes placed upon Latinx culture and the power the media has in portraying these themes by diminishing the voices of Latinx artists. Ochoa deconstructs gender roles and identity to revitalize an authentic perspective of Puerto Rican icons appropriated within the entertainment industry.

In Nací (2009), choreographer Andrea Miller draws from the multiplicity of her Spanish and Jewish-American background and employs her distinctive movement language to search for a new sense of home in this remembrance of lost and found homelands.

Ramón Oller grapples with ideas of betrayal, lost love, and oppression in Good Night Paradise (1994). This work brought to life a dark and powerful world of human struggle, complex relationships, and loss. Now, nearly 25 years later, Ramón has re-envisioned the work and expanded the world it portrays to include elements of his own life experiences.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sombrerísimo (2013) references the iconic sombreros (hats) found throughout the world that help to represent culture. Originally choreographed for an all-male cast, Sombrerísimo will be performed by an all-female cast.

In an excerpt from Cada Noche…Tango (1988), Graciela Daniele takes a look at the underground nightlife of Buenos Aires in the 1920s and 30s and the intricate and smoldering partnering of Argentina’s beloved tango.

Vicente Nebrada’s Batucada Fantástica excerpts (1983) include two technically demanding solos that celebrate the neoclassical brilliance of the choreographer and the music of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival.

Pedro Ruiz’s Club Havana (2000) showcases the intoxicating rhythms of the conga, rumba, mambo, and cha cha and relives the exciting era of fifties in Cuba.

An excerpt from Asuka by Eduardo Vilaro (2012) celebrates the life of legendary Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz who captured the hearts of Latinos over the world and became a symbol of perseverance for many.

Program A – April 7-11 (evening performances)
Jardi Tancat – Nacho Duato
Cada Noche…Tango excerpt – Graciela Daniele
Batucada Fantástica excerpt – Vicente Nebrada
18+1 – Gustavo Ramírez Sansano

Program B – April 14-18 (evening performances)
Good Night Paradise – Ramón Oller
Asuka excerpt – Eduardo Vilaro
New Sleep excerpt – William Forsythe
Tiburones – Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Program C – April 11-12 and April 18-19 (matinee performances)
Sombrerísimo – Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Nací – Andrea Miller
Club Havana – Pedro Ruiz

“Our 50th Anniversary programming represents the trajectory of the Latinx influence in dance. It is a celebration of Latinx artists who broke glass ceilings and those who continue the legacy of sharing and impacting our community with our artistic voices.” – Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director & CEO.

Ballet Hispánico’s New York Season is made possible by Jody & John Arnhold, American Express, the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Frances Lear Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Samuel H. Scripps Foundation, The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Inc., with public support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Univision Communications, Inc. is Media Sponsor of Ballet Hispánico.

Choreographer bios are available  at https://www.ballethispanico.org/performances/Joyce2019.
Dancer bios are available at https://www.ballethispanico.org/performances/dancers.

Ballet Hispánico
Tue-Wed 7:30pm; Thu-Fri 8:00pm; Sat 2:00pm & 8:00pm; Sun 2:00pm
Curtain Chats: Wednesdays, April 8 and 15, 2020
Tickets start at $10 and are available for purchase in person at The Joyce Theater Box Office, by phone at (212) 242-0800, or online at Joyce.org. Ticket prices are subject to change.

About Ballet Hispánico
Ballet Hispánico, America’s leading Latino dance organization, has been bringing people together to celebrate the joy and diversity of Latino cultures for 50 years.

Over the past five decades, Ballet Hispánico’s mission-driven ethos has been a catalyst of change for communities throughout our nation. By bringing the richness of the Latinx culture to the forefront of performance, education and social advocacy, Ballet Hispánico is a cultural ambassador.

The organization’s founder, National Medal of Arts recipient Tina Ramirez, sought to give voice to the Hispanic experience and break through stereotypes. Today, Ballet Hispánico is led by Eduardo Vilaro, an acclaimed choreographer and former member of the Company whose artistic vision responds to the need for social equity, cultural identity, and quality arts education for all.

Ballet Hispánico has been, and will continue to be, a beacon for diversity. The art we create explores and celebrates the culture without the trappings of stereotypes. We foster the pursuit of art as a way of providing transformation through the exploration of the human condition. Our art often defies gravity, acting as a frontline against cultural division by releasing preconceived notions of culture and instead offering our audiences new perspectives.
Eduardo Vilaro (Artistic Director & CEO) joined Ballet Hispánico as Artistic Director in August 2009, becoming only the second person to head the Company since it was founded in 1970. In 2015, Mr. Vilaro took on the additional role of Chief Executive Officer of Ballet Hispánico. He has been part of the Ballet Hispánico family since 1985 as a dancer and educator, after which he began a ten-year record of achievement as founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. Mr. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico’s legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape. Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of six, he is a frequent speaker on the merits of cultural diversity and dance education.

Mr. Vilaro’s own choreography is devoted to capturing the spiritual, sensual, and historical essence of Latino cultures. He created over 20 ballets for Luna Negra and has received commissions from the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Festival, the Lexington Ballet, and the Chicago Symphony. In 2001, he was a recipient of a Ruth Page Award for choreography, and in 2003, he was honored for his choreographic work at Panama’s II International Festival of Ballet. Mr. Vilaro was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2016 and was awarded HOMBRE Magazine’s 2017 Arts & Culture Trailblazer of the Year. In 2019, Mr. Vilaro was the recipient of the West Side Spirit’s WESTY Award, was honored by WNET for his contributions to the arts, and most recently, was the recipient of the James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award.

About The Joyce Theater
The Joyce Theater Foundation (“The Joyce,” Executive Director, Linda Shelton), a non-profit organization, has proudly served the dance community for over three decades. Under the direction of founders Cora Cahan and Eliot Feld, Ballet Tech Foundation acquired and The Joyce renovated the Elgin Theater in Chelsea. Opening as The Joyce Theater in 1982, it was named in honor of Joyce Mertz, beloved daughter of LuEsther T. Mertz. It was LuEsther’s clear, undaunted vision and abundant generosity that made it imaginable and ultimately possible to build the theater. Ownership was secured by The Joyce in 2015. The theater is one of the only theaters built by dancers for dance and has provided an intimate and elegant home for over 400 U.S.-based and international companies. The Joyce has also expanded its reach beyond its Chelsea home through off-site presentations at venues ranging in scope from Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, to Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, and to outdoor programming in spaces such as Hudson River Park. To further support the creation of new work, The Joyce maintains longstanding commissioning and residency programs. Local students and teachers (K- 12th grade) benefit from its school program, and family and adult audiences get closer to dance with access to artists. The Joyce’s annual season of about 48 weeks of dance now includes over 340 performances for audiences in excess of 150,000.

Apr
16
Thu
Music in Color: Eleanor Alberga :: Orchestra of St. Luke’s @ New York Pubic Library for the Performing Arts
Apr 16 @ 6:00 pm

Music in Color: Eleanor Alberga

April 16, 2020

New York Pubic Library for the Performing Arts
40 Lincoln Center Plaza

Orchestra of St. Luke’s performs at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts as part of its annual five-borough community concert tour, with free concerts designed to be as entertaining as they are educational. Since 2016, the tour has focused on OSL’s Music in Color initiative, a multifaceted program celebrating composers of color through biographical concerts.

This season, Music in Color highlights the life, music, and continually evolving career of composer Eleanor Alberga. A British composer of Jamaican descent, Alberga is prolific in nearly every genre, from opera and choral works to pieces for both chamber ensemble and full orchestra. Her works are commonly played throughout Europe with performances and recordings by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, among others.

Playwright and performer Kirya Traber will join OSL to guide audiences through Alberga’s story and inspiration. This concert will include the North American premiere of Alberga’s Shining Gate of Morpheus for horn and string quartet.

Program
• Eleanor Alberga: Jamaican Medley (arr. for strings by Andrew Roitstein)
• Béla Bartók: 44 Duets for Two Violins (selection)
• Johann Sebastian Bach: Selection from Trio Sonata BWV 529
• Eleanor Alberga: String Quartet No. 1 (selection)
• Eleanor Alberga: Shining Gate of Morpheus for Horn and String Quartet

Apr
17
Fri
Baruch Performing Arts Center presents Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke @ Baruch Performing Arts Center
Apr 17 all-day
Baruch Performing Arts Center presents Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke @ Baruch Performing Arts Center

Baruch Performing Arts Center presents Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke

April 17, 2020

Baruch Performing Arts Center continues its Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Concert Series with pianist Vijay Iyer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith performing selections from their 2016 album A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke on April 17, 2020 at 8PM. The concert will be held at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue (25th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues), NYC. Tickets are $16-$51 and can be purchased online at https://ci.ovationtix.com/1091/production/1014634?performanceId=10437252.

Released in March 2016 on ECM records, A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Strokefeatures Vijay Iyer and his “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith. Iyer had previously played extensively with Smith in the trumpeter’s Golden Quartet. A particularly inspiring collaboration at New York’s The Stone early in 2015 underlined the affinity of the two musicians’ sounds and concepts and made the documentation of the duo a priority. The resulting album was produced by Manfred Eicher at New York’s Avatar Studios in October 2015, capturing the improvisational magic of the duo, the expressive individuality of the participants and the ways in which they can-as Wadada Leo Smith says-“merge as a single wave, or a single voice.”

The album received acclaim from fans and critics alike. Writer Alec Wilkinson of The New Yorker called it “a two-figure play in which the exchanges involve mortality or impermanence or divinity. The musicians seem to trade remarks and sometimes talk with one another…The discourses are both cultivated and passionate.” For their collaboration on A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke, Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith were named Duo of the Year in 2017 by The Jazz Journalists Association.

About the Artists

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer was described by Pitchforkas “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star,” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat Magazine’s Artist of the Year four times-in 2018, 2016, 2015 and 2012-and Artist of the Year in Jazz Times’ Critics’ Poll and Readers’ Poll for 2017. Iyer was named Downbeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University, with joint affiliations in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies.

The New York Times observed, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released twenty-three albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. 2019 saw the release of The Transitory Poems, a live two-piano improvisation with Iyer’s longtime colleague and label-mate, Craig Taborn. Prior to that, Iyer’s sextet album Far From Over (2017) was ranked #1 in US National Public Radio’s annual Jazz Critics’ Poll, surveying 157 critics. It was named among the best jazz albums of the year in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Slate, and The New York Times, and the only “jazz release” in Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 best records of 2017. Iyer’s Sextet was voted 2018 Jazz Group of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Iyer’s previous ECM releases include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke(2016) with Wadada Leo Smith; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat Magazine, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range… showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Iyer’s trio made its name with three tremendously acclaimed and influential albums: Break Stuff (2015), Accelerando (2012) and Historicity (2009).  Accelerando was voted #1 Jazz Album of the Year for 2012 in three separate critics polls surveying hundreds of critics worldwide, hosted by DownBeat, Jazz Times, and Rhapsody, respectively, and also was chosen as jazz album of the year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, PopMatters, and Amazon.com. The Vijay Iyer Trio was named 2015 Jazz Group of the year in the DownBeat International Critics Poll, with Iyer having earlier received an unprecedented “quintuple crown” in the 2012 Downbeat Poll (winning Jazz Artist of the Year, Pianist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Group of the Year, and Rising Star Composer categories), as well as a “quadruple crown” in the JazzTimes extended critics poll (winning Artist of the Year, Acoustic/Mainstream Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year, and Album of the Year). Iyer received the 2012 and 2013 Pianist of the Year Awards and the 2010 Musician of the Year Award from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2013 ECHO Award (the “German Grammy”) for best international pianist.  Historicity was a 2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, and was named the #1 Jazz Album of 2009 in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Detroit Metro Times, National Public Radio, PopMatters.com, the Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll, and the Downbeat International Critics Poll, and the trio won the 2010 ECHO Award for best international ensemble.

Iyer’s 2013 collaboration with poet Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project, was hailed as #1 Jazz Album of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. Along with their previous projects In What Language? (2004) and Still Life with Commentator (2007), Holding It Down rounded out a trilogy of politically searing albums about post-9/11 American life.

Iyer’s compositions have been commissioned and premiered by Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Silk Road Ensemble, Ethel, Brentano Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Imani Winds, American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum, Orpheus Ensemble, Matt Haimowitz, and Jennifer Koh. Iyer has performed, recorded, and collaborated with musical pioneers Steve Coleman, George Lewis, Butch Morris, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dr. L. Subramaniam, Steve Lehman, Craig Taborn, Oliver Lake, Ambrose Akinmusire, Tyshawn Sorey, Matana Roberts, poets Amiri Baraka and Mike Ladd, novelist Teju Cole, and rapper Himanshu Suri.

Iyer is the Artistic Director of The Banff Centre’s International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, the 2015-16 Artist-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Musical Director for the 2017 Ojai Festival. He holds a doctorate in music cognition from University of California, Berkeley, and his writings have appeared in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Wire, Music Perception, JazzTimes, Journal of the Society for American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, and The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. He is a Steinway artist. https://vijay-iyer.com.

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as “Creative Music.”

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement “honoring brilliance and resilience.” In 2018 he received the Religion and The Arts Award from the American Academy of Religion. In November 2019, he received the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, during a ceremony and concert at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

Smith regularly earns multiple spots on the DownBeat International Critics Poll. In 2017 he topped three categories: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he has earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes Critics Poll as Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith’s early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. Rosa Parks: Pure Love, an Oratorio of Seven Songs was released on February 15, 2019 via TUM Records. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including The New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “a staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.” www.wadadaleosmith.com

Baruch Performing Arts Center is an acclaimed performing arts presence. Located in the heart of Manhattan just east of Chelsea and the famed flatiron building, BPAC presents renowned classical music, opera, jazz, theater, dance, discussion, film, and innovative cross-genre programming. BPAC has presented over 1,000 cultural programs in its 5 spaces since 2003. Its curated season of 30 programs annually emphasizes new work experienced in intimate settings, the diversity of American culture as exemplified by Baruch students (who come from 130 different countries) and work that lives at the confluence of art and social justice.

Past presentations have included theatre companies such as the National Asian American Theatre Company, Folksbiene, Blessed Unrest, and The Acting Company. Dance companies such as Caleb Teicher & Co, Dusan Tynek, Heidi Latsky Dance, José Limón, and Urban Bush Women. BPAC is the New York home of the Alexander String Quartet and presents a rich chamber music season including artists such as the Israeli Chamber Project, Cantata Profana, violinist Tessa Lark, cellist Joshua Roman, and pianist Sara Davis Buechner. BPAC offers a jazz series named for bassist and faculty member Milt Hinton, which has featured artists such as Grammy-Award winner Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, and the Aaron Diehl Trio. Discussion program have included writers Teju Cole, Colum McCann and Amitav Ghosh, actress Linda Lavin, and thought leaders such as Gloria Steinem and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Visit www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac for complete and up-to-date information on the 2019-2020 Season.

Apr
23
Thu
Aspect Chamber Music Series: SENSIBILITY: GAINSBOROUGH, ABEL and BACH @ Italian Academy
Apr 23 @ 7:30 pm
Aspect Chamber Music Series: SENSIBILITY: GAINSBOROUGH, ABEL and BACH @ Italian Academy

SENSIBILITY: GAINSBOROUGH, ABEL & BACH

Thursday, April 23, 7.30 pm

Italian Academy
1161 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

PROGRAM
Richard Boothby, viola da gamba
Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord

Illustrated talk by musicians

Abel — Sonata in D major
J. C. Bach— Sonata in D major for keyboard Op. 5 No. 2
Abel— Three improvisations
Abel — Sonata in G minor
J. C. Bach — Sonata in A flat major for keyboard
Abel— Sonata in A minor

Mid-eighteenth-century Britain saw the rise of the cult of sensibility. Part of a wider European aesthetic (known in Germany as Empfindsamkeit), it emphasized spontaneous emotional responses to art, music and literature, a sensitivity to the suffering of others, and a love of nature. Such ideas are apparent in the art of Thomas Gainsborough – in his choice and approach to subject matter, and in his style of painting, with its improvisatory swirls and sweeping lines. His portrait subjects included two German émigrés to London who were similarly adept at articulating direct emotions in their musical performances and compositions: Johann Christian Bach, who was to become London’s leading composer and musician, and Carl Friedrich Abel, composer and virtuoso viola da gamba player. Bach was the youngest son of the great Johann Sebastian, who had been friends in Cöthen with Christian Ferdinand Abel, father of Carl Friedrich. Together, the younger Abel and Bach set up their own concert series, which was such a success that they went on to build their own concert room in Hanover Square, for which their mutual friend Gainsborough provided much of the decoration.