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For your ears only: ‘Concert for One’ project makes classical music accessible

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
For your ears only: ‘Concert for One’ project makes classical music accessible
Violinist Jean Huang plays in the “Concert for One” space. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

In Chinatown’s Chin Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a bright yellow shipping container has appeared nestled among chessboards and strings of paper lanterns near the Chinatown Gate. As neighbors draw closer to the structure, notes of a melody waft from its metal walls. Inside sits a single musician, pouring their heart and soul into the performance. Across from the performer sits an audience of one. And that one could be you.

The “Concert for One” installation in the Rose Kennedy Greenway Chin Park. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

The “Concert for One” installation in the Rose Kennedy Greenway Chin Park. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

Celebrity Series’ newest installation, “Concert for One” is a musical performance on the most intimate of scales. Viewers step inside the shipping container-turned-practice-room and are serenaded by a local musician for a 60-second private concert. Musicians switch up music based on the audience, so each concert is a unique performance. The result is an intimate, meditative sound experience.

The concerts will be performed through Sept. 29 in both Chin Park and the Harvard Science Center Plaza. While waiting for their private concerts, visitors to the installation can read about its history in a separate shipping container next door that has been renovated into a gallery space. Those feeling inspired can pick up an instrument themselves and try their hand.

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Erin Farrell and her husband came across the installation by accident during its soft launch. The music-lovers were walking through the park, and upon hearing about the project, joined the line. Farrell says she was unsure about the concept at first. “I was like, I don’t know, in a closed room with a stranger? That could be creepy.” But after 60 seconds with violinist Jean Huang, she was completely won over. “I thought it was fantastic. So soothing, so lovely,” says Farrell.

The project was devised by Rayna Yun Chou, a New England Conservatory graduate and violist. She launched the installation in Taiwan in 2016 in an effort to make classical music more accessible to the general public. Here in Boston and Cambridge, “Concert for One” will bring intimate music experience to 5,000 viewers in its weeklong run. Chou hopes also to address the isolation musicians can feel, and here in these intimate one-on-one performances, a sort of instantaneous bond is formed.

The concerts are free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets are required, though wait times can’t be predicted. The performer, instrument and music will be a mystery to the audience members until they enter the space. Nothing but the strains of a melody floating from the bright yellow popup space will give any clue to the transcendent experience happening inside.

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