Listening Parties are an entertaining variation of the book discussion format, and anyone is welcome to attend. Librarian Michael Farley presents a theme for every program, whether it be a performer, a group, a time period or a particular album. There’s no need to do any homework ahead of time. Simply show up with curious ears, listen to some music, and talk about it with other attendees. Most of the discussions have centered on jazz, but they will also touch upon other genres as well. Listening Parties take place monthly on Thursdays at 7 p.m. from September to June (with a break in December).
Upcoming Listening Parties
The Rite of Spring: Listen to excerpts from Igor Stravinsky’s iconoclastic landmark, “The Rite of Spring,” as well as other works of the Russian composer.
Johnny Cash: Hear music from this popular singer-songwriter who excelled at country, rock & roll, rockabilly, blues, folk and gospel.
Past Listening Parties
- Nina Simone: Listen to and discuss this singer who combined influences of jazz, folk, pop and the blues, as well as classical music into her style.
- Music With a Sense of Humor: Does music require humorous lyrics to be funny or can it be evoked in the abstract? Listen to and discuss some examples.
- Stardust: Listen to and discuss one of the most recorded songs in history in honor of songwriter Hoagy Carmichael’s 120th birthday.
- Gil Evans: The composer/arranger’s distinctive style influenced the sound of modern jazz for decades.
- Jazz and the Spoken Word: Hear examples of jazz and spoken word poetry from the 1950s to the present.
- David Bowie: Space Oddity: Marking the 50th anniversary of Bowie’s breakthrough single by taking a closer look at his decades-long career.
- Claude Debussy: Influential composer invented his own system of harmony and musical structure.
- Nocturne: Explore its origin, meaning and interpretations across genres.
- Renee Fleming: The esteemed soprano has been widely honored for her work in opera, pop, jazz and Broadway.
- Sting and The Police: An unlikely trio of musicians became one of the top bands of the ’80s.
- Astrud Gilberto and her Legacy: The beloved bossa nova singer from the ’60s has had a continuing influence.
- Halloween Special: Listen to spooky tunes and discuss what makes some music “scary.”
- Joni Mitchell: One of the greatest songwriters of all time who created a personal hybrid of pop, folk and jazz.
- Miles Davis: The many moods of Miles embodied such different stylistic approaches to jazz.
- April Showers: Why are there so many songs about rain?
- Variations on Bach: Celebrate composer’s 333rd birthday with examples of his work adapted for rock, pop and jazz.
- 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz: Miles, Brubeck, Mingus and Ornette Coleman all released groundbreaking albums in 1959.
- Ann Richards: Unsung Jazz Singer: Wife of Stan Kenton and brilliant jazz singer, who had a brief and unjustly neglected career.
- Frank Sinatra’s ‘Only the Lonely’: This 1958 collection of torch songs was Sinatra’s personal favorite of all his albums.
- Maurice Ravel: Modern French composer whose music fused Spanish, jazz and Baroque influences.
- Steely Dan: Popular ’70s band that created a jazz/rock hybrid style.
- Brad Mehldau: Listen to this innovative and lyrical jazz pianist and composer.
- Erik Satie: This French composer was influential to jazz, pop and other classical composers.
- Women’s History Month Music: Listen to groups formed and led by women who write and perform their own music.
- David Bowie: A musical sampling of his 50-year career to celebrate what would have been his 70th birthday.
- The Rolling Stones with Brian Jones: Music from the group’s first six years.