Metro, Arts, Newton

Newton Community Pride Hosts Isabel Stover Jazz Quartet Concert in West Newton

Despite rain moving the event inside, Newton community members gathered at the newly renovated Allen Center for a concert filled with jazz classics performed by the Isabel Stover Jazz Quartet on Saturday afternoon. 

“It’s really great being here to play for the community,” singer Isabel Stover said.

Stover lives in Newton and said she was excited to get the chance to perform in her city.

“Newton is very interested in the arts,” she said. “It’s great to see so many people come out.”

Newton resident Jeff Cole said he went to one of the previous concerts hosted by Newton Community Pride, which inspired him to check out Saturday’s performance.

“It’s just cool to find out how talented the people in our community actually are,” Cole said.

Accompanying Stover on stage were Mark Shilansky on the piano, Mark Poniatowski playing bass, and Rich Greenblatt on the drums.

The quartet began its set with a song entitled “Beatrice” by Sam Rivers, a Boston jazz musician. Rivers wrote the song for his wife, Beatrice. While the original song had no lyrics, Stover crafted her own based on the emotions she picked up from listening to the piece.

The quartet’s set also included songs such as “Feeling Good,” “Who Knows Where the Times Go,” and “Sweetest Somebody I Know.”

Stover said she has always been interested in music, but it was her time living in Oakland, Calif. that made her interested in jazz specifically.

“I was always into [music] from when I was young. I was always in choirs and, you know, in musical theatre,” Stover said. “Later on, I joined a vocal big band called The Oakland Jazz Choir when I was living in Oakland. And that was my first foray into jazz and jazz arrangements. And I thought this is the coolest music ever, and so I’ve just never looked back.”

Stover relishes being able to perform in front of audiences.

“I love connecting with people from onstage,” she said. “I love just kind of tapping into what they’re feeling and emoting my feelings to them, and I can feel that connection, and it feels really good.”

Saturday’s concert was the third and final concert of Newton Community Pride’s free Fall Village Concert Series. 

“The September Concert Series is one of our annual events,” Meryl Kessler, co-chair of Newton Community Pride, explained. “We’ve been doing it the last few years. And the goal is to bring music to different parts, different neighborhoods here in Newton in different venues.”

Boston resident Jessica Emond said that she appreciates events like the concert as a means to bring people together.

“I think it’s important to have opportunities like this to see live music and actually get together with people in their community,” she said.

Kessler explained that Newton Community Pride hosts events like the Fall Village Concert Series to build a sense of community. 

“I’ve always been interested in civic engagement,” she said. “How do we get people out of their homes? How do we get them engaged in their community? Newton Community Pride is an organization that is really devoted to that.”

Kessler said she finds joy in providing people a chance to connect with one another and engage with the arts and culture of the city.

“Coming out of three years of a pandemic, getting people out of their homes, getting them in communal spaces, enjoying arts and culture together … finding out that we have incredible artists and musical artists, talents right here in our community,” she said. “All of that, I think, is a benefit of this work, and I’ve been really privileged to be able to do it.”

September 24, 2023