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There are certain performances that change the course of musical history, producing an unprecedented collision of artist and audience, setting and sound. In this lively series from musicologist and Humber College professor Dr. Andrew Scott, we’ll take a globe-trotting, genre-spanning survey of six concerts that altered the course of modern music, redefining popular genres and the cultural movements that they fed and inspired. From a Beatles extravaganza to jazz and classical masters taking flight at Carnegie Hall to a stirring Aretha Franklin performance in front of Barack Obama, this will be an electrifying journey through modern musical history—and a celebration of an inspiring ritual that we’ve learned not to take for granted: the magic that comes when a great musician performs on a concert stage.

Led by Dr. Andrew Scott, University professor and program coordinator of the Bachelor of Music Degree, Humber College.

Registration: $49 (Hot Docs Members: $33, $27, Free)


Lecture 1: The Beatles on Our World, June 25, 1967
A seminal event in the lore of the Beatles, the Fab Four’s performance of “All you Need is Love” on the BBC’s Our World was simulcast on radio and television and watched by an estimated 400 to 700 million people around the globe. Scheduled in honour of the first satellite launched into space, the event launched popular music into uncharted territory as well, connecting global music fans to new psychedelic imagery and a band at the height of its creative powers.

Lecture 2: Donny Hathaway, live at The Bitter End and The Troubadour, August-October, 1971
The singer-songwriter Donny Hathaway was “a soul legend”, as Rolling Stone described him, forging memorable collaborations with Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin and penning chart-topping songs (“Where is the Love,” “This Christmas”) that have been covered for generations. Drawing on his own interviews with key members of Hathaway’s Band, Dr. Scott will tell the fascinating story behind Hathaway’s recorded performances in New York and LA in 1971, which were later packaged into one of the greatest live albums ever made.

Lecture 3: Vladimir Horowitz’s return to the concert stage at Carnegie Hall, May 9, 1965
One of the great virtuosos of his—and any—era, the career of the Russian-born pianist and composer Vladimir Horowitz was intertwined with New York’s Carnegie Hall, where he made his American debut in 1928. His return to this iconic venue in 1965, after a 12-year performing hiatus, was one of the landmark events in 20th Century classical music – a concert so eagerly anticipated that, even in that pre-digital era, tickets sold out in two hours!

Lecture 4: Prince at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Awards, March 15, 2004
When Prince played a cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps” at a posthumous tribute to George Harrison at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, he delivered a performance unlike any other. Commandeering the stage from other iconic performers like Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne—and, in some ways, from Harrison himself—he produced one of the most amazing and polarizing spectacles in modern rock n’ roll.

Lecture 5: Oscar Peterson’s debut performance at Carnegie Hall, September 18, 1949
A seminal event in his career, and a masterful display of musical stagecraft, the Canadian jazz legend’s first appearance at Carnegie was a night to remember.  Planted in the audience by concert promoter Norman Granz, and called on stage for a “surprise” performance,  the pianist wowed the crowd and became the talk of the town.

Lecture 6: Aretha Franklin at the Kennedy Center, December 6, 2015
At the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015, the Queen of Soul delivered a rendition of Carole King’s ‘You Make me feel like a Natural Woman’ that was as majestic as the guests in attendance—which included then-President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Reflecting many of the key performative tropes in the history of African-American music, this spine-tingling cover also demonstrated Aretha’s uncanny ability to take songs that other people wrote and completely transform them into her own image and style.

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