Lloyd Schwartz, The Boston Phoenix | December 18, 2007
Craig Smith (1947–2007)
Boston’s biggest classical-music story this year was also its saddest. Craig Smith, long-time artistic director of Emmanuel Music, collaborator with Peter Sellars, Mark Morris, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, John Harbison, Russell Sherman, and some of Boston’s most gifted and devoted singers and players, died at the age of 60 of complications from diabetes. For 37 years, he’d been at the musical epicenter of this city. This fall, he was to be one of 14 pianists in an evening he’d planned devoted to Bach’s massive Der Kunst der Fuge (“The Art of the Fugue”), but he was too weak to do more than greet the audience. Even with only 13 pianists, the event was a major accomplishment, and a testament to his leadership. A sensitive accompanist and a profound conductor, especially of Bach (he was the first American to lead all of Bach’s cantatas, which he did as part of the Emmanuel Church Sunday liturgy), Handel, and Mozart, he was equally at home in Johann Strauss and Kurt Weill. He was writing a book (the book) on Bach’s cantatas, but he was no pedant; he once had the chutzpah to substitute a bluesy saxophone for a violin obbligato and made it sound even more like Bach. A concert in his memory will take place at Emmanuel Church on January 31, his birthday.
Copyright © 2007 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group