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Paula Cole in play about Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

Jazz News
April 18, 2012

Berklee College of Music presents Back to the Garden: The Artistry of Joni Mitchell, a play with music and dance about the life and work of the iconic artist, written and performed by Berklee students. Back to the Garden will be performed at Berklee on May 3 with featured guest, Grammy Award-winning alumna Paula Cole, and music directed by Grammy Award-winning alumna Terri Lyne Carrington. The production is directed by Associate Professor Rebecca Perricone.

Back to the Garden: The Artistry of Joni Mitchell takes place Thursday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. Tickets are $8, $13 in advance, $12, $17 day of show. Purchase tickets at, call 617 747-2261, or visit the BPC Box Office. Please note: Joni Mitchell will not be performing. Can't make it to the show? This event will stream live on Concert Window.

The play is the work of students in the Advanced Music Theater Workshop, in collaboration with the Joni Mitchell Ensemble. Hit songs like "Big Yellow Taxi, " "Circle Game, " and "Both Sides Now" will be performed with new arrangements written by students and faculty. The production also features songs from Mitchell's jazz collaborations, including "Goodbye Porkpie Hat, " in which she put lyrics to a well-known Charles Mingus piece.

The Joni Mitchell Ensemble is comprised of nine musicians, hand-picked by Carrington, who recently won a Grammy for her album The Mosaic Project. "I only choose outstanding students, " said Carrington. "They are advanced to the point of sounding pro. They have the technique, good sound, and are steeped in the history of jazz, but they also work on their own voice. This stretches their abilities." She also picked a student, Ben Lusher '14, to serve as co-musical director, to give him additional experience and responsibility.

Paula Cole, a Rockport, MA native, will sing "A Case of You" and "Love" in the show. "As with many serious writers, my life's work has a very high bar set by the uncompromising, inestimable Joni Mitchell, " said Cole. "Joni is among the very greatest contributors to modern music."

Considered one of the most important female recording artists of the 20th century, Joni Mitchell is innovative and iconoclastic. Her music was always evolving, from deeply personal folk stylings in the 1960's and '70's to pop, jazz, and even world music. Back to the Garden is about that journey, Mitchell's commitment to change, and her fierce unwillingness to compromise.

In addition to performing, students from all over the college are helping with stage managing, assistant directing, lighting, sound, graphic design, costume design, and marketing.

Berklee College of Music, for over 65 years, has evolved to support its belief that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through contemporary music education. The college was the first in the U.S. to teach jazz, the popular music of the time. It incorporated rock n' roll in the 1960s; created the world's first degree programs in electronic production and design, film scoring, and songwriting; and, in recent years, added music therapy, world music, hip-hop, electronica, and video game music to its curriculum. With a diverse student body representing over 80 countries and a music industry "who's who" of alumni that have received over 250 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, Berklee is the world's premier learning lab for the music of today - and tomorrow.

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