In an unlikely pairing that is getting top reviews, actor Bill Murray, best known for his work on Saturday Night Live and films like Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation, has joined forces with a classical music trio led by renowned German cellist Jan Vogler, his wife and violinist, Mira Wang, and pianist Vanessa Pérez in a mélange of songs, music and literary readings.
They will appear on Friday, March 2, at the Mizner Park Amphitheatre as part of the Festival of the Arts Boca, with their program New Worlds, billed as “an evening of music, poetry and prose.”
The trio performs music by Bernstein, Piazzolla, Gershwin, Ravel, Bach and Schubert, while Murray recites passages and poetry from Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Ernest Hemingway. He also will sing “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” from Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess.
“This is a show where there is something for everybody,” says Vogler by email from his home in New York, where lives with Wang and their two kids.
“Usually one partner enjoys a classical music concert while the spouse may be bored. Not here,” he says. “Even if you don’t like classical music, well you will enjoy the other aspects of this show and experience the music with more intensity and life.”
Vogler and Murray met on a flight from Berlin to New York in 2013 and became acquainted. Murray visited Vogler that year in Dresden during the Dresden Music Festival, of which Vogler is the director, and attended a couple concerts in which he performed with Joshua Bell and the New York Philharmonic.
A few months later, Murray invited Vogler to a poetry walk over the Brooklyn Bridge organized by the Poets House, where Vogler says he rediscovered an old affinity for American poetry and literature.
“I sent Bill a text saying, ‘I think we can do a show and go around the world.’ His answer was simple: ‘I would love that’ – and the partnership was born.”
He characterizes the partnership as a “rare case of a project born out of friendship and interest — an ideal way to get results.”
A onetime child prodigy who has performed with numerous leading international orchestras including the New York Philharmonic; Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestras as well as the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Vogler says it’s inevitable and necessary the worlds of classical music and popular culture will collide.
In fact, Vogler says he has reduced his classical concert schedule to make more space for this project.
“I feel this is more necessary than ever,” he says. “In the classical music world, we sometimes confuse good craftsmanship and artistry. But the audience always feels that distinct difference.”
“Because we repeat works that have been written many centuries ago, inspiration is key,” he says. “An inspired performance of a Dvorak concerto or Beethoven symphony needs personal input in order to impact the audience.”
“This project has taught me about creativity and reminded me of the essentials of art,” Vogler says.
He says the group is enjoying their time rehearsing and traveling together.
“There is never a dull moment,” Vogler says referring to Murray. “Vanessa, Mira, Bill and myself, have found each other. We share something very special, which I believe could go further.”
“It still feels like a beginning,” he says.
Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends appear in New Worlds on Friday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the Mizner Park Amphitheatre, 433 Plaza Real. For tickets and information, visit www.festivaloftheartsboca.org.