Not even Harry Potter has a spell to defeat the coronavirus, but that boy wizard’s charms — the literary ones, at least — can often cure cabin fever. To enhance that power, Wizarding World Digital is presenting the free online hub Harry Potter at Home, which offers themed activities along with videos of celebrities reading aloud, chapter by chapter, the series’ first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” (The title in Britain uses the term “Philosopher’s Stone.”)
Initially, the company released one chapter video each week — the first, in May, featured Daniel Radcliffe himself — but has lately been posting them more frequently. The segments, which remain online for new and returning fans, include performers like Eddie Redmayne, Whoopi Goldberg and Dakota Fanning. On Tuesday, the actors Kenneth Branagh, Ruth Wilson and Helena Bonham Carter will read the novel’s penultimate chapter, “Through the Trapdoor.” An online celebration will accompany the final installment; its release date and narrators are still a secret.
Children ages 5 to 9 can also do their own conjuring in the coming week at a new virtual camp, Make a Harry Potter Musical! Blue Balloon Songwriting School and Treasure Trunk Theater will present the program, which will culminate in an original show, from Monday to Friday, 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. Participation isn’t cheap ($525), but think of it as tuition for five days at Hogwarts.
As someone who has seen “The Sound of Music” multiple times during lockdown, I can’t argue against comfort viewing. But like listening to “The Lonely Goatherd” on repeat, settling for easy entertainment has its limits. When you want to see theater that asks for more from your mind and heart, you could try the streaming platform OntheBoards.tv, which offers theater, dance and forms between.
On the Boards works with artists to plan the angles and approaches of their works, so the videos translate from stage to screen better than most. Not every piece represents a company at its best. I’d happily take Half Straddle’s “Is This a Room,” which is not on the platform, over its “Seagull (Thinking of You),” which is; or Rude Mechs’s “Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century” instead of “The Method Gun” (though I do want to see “The Method Gun” again). But beggars can’t be choosers in a pandemic, and I’m grateful for what I can get, like Okwui Okpokwasili and Peter Born’s haunting “Bronx Gothic” or Young Jean Lee’s lacerating “The Shipment” or Temporary Distortion’s “Newyorkland,” an unsettling film-theater hybrid. You can rent most videos for $5 or buy them for $15; a $50 subscription nets a year’s unlimited viewing. So click through the site, and find a few of your favorite things.
A few months ago, as theaters shut down and shows were called off across much of the world, some organizations were quick to create new opportunities for makers of live performance. With the swiftly organized “Enter” series, the Onassis Foundation invited artists to respond to the moment with video artworks developed in 120 hours or less. The series has grown into an eclectic, poetic collection of more than 50 responses to life in a global pandemic, some direct and others more oblique.
Among the contributors are choreographers who experimented with dancing for the camera or who applied choreographic thought to living under quarantine. In “The Game,” the dancer Kimberly Bartosik, with her husband and 13-year-old daughter, demonstrates an activity they invented for anyone cohabiting in close quarters, a way of processing what she calls “the accumulation of whacked out emotions we grapple with daily.” In the whimsical “Body and Seoul,” the choreographer Eun-Me Ahn scooters around South Korea’s capital with a team of hula-hooping dancers. And in “Altostratus: An Allegory,” one of the most stirring entries, Okwui Okpokwasili speaks to the toppling of old systems through collective power, as the silhouetted image of her body, struggling against a cloudy sky, dissolves into a flock of birds that fills the frame.
The cellist Amanda Gookin has had some experience shepherding new works into the classical repertory. PUBLIQuartet, a group that Gookin co-founded, co-commissioned a piece by Jessica Meyer for its Grammy-nominated 2019 recording, “Freedom & Faith.” Gookin’s latest album — “Forward Music Project 1.0,” which comes out on Friday — adds to that momentum by presenting listeners with a fresh slate of compositions.
This initial offering in Gookin’s planned series commences in high style, courtesy of the composer and multi-instrumentalist Nathalie Joachim’s track “Dam Mwen Yo.” As with Joachim’s 2019 set, “Fanm d’Ayiti,” this opus draws energy and inspiration from the composer’s Haitian heritage. By merging Gookin’s live playing with recorded vocals, Joachim crafts what she describes as a “tribute to the Haitian women in my life who were central to my upbringing and continue to empower my own sense of womanhood.”
While Joachim observes, in the album’s liner notes, that the melody here is somber, you can also hear the communal joy embedded in a music of cooperation. When the finely latticed vocals overlap, creating a new depth of harmony, the sense of mutual support resounds clearly. And when the backing track sketches a new rhythmic pulse — one that in turn influences the part for Gookin’s cello — the joy of transmitting knowledge is perceptible.
SETH COLTER WALLS
New Angles on Music Making
The Village Vanguard has been the steadiest game in town for so long — 85 years — that when the pandemic swept in this winter and stopped everything, the club’s closing felt different. This is jazz’s secular temple, a wedge of a room with crisp, intimate acoustics, where social distancing is against the spirit of the enterprise.
In June, after nearly three dormant months, the Vanguard started its own livestreaming series. Broadcast using three high-quality cameras and excellent miking, the streams are more like an in-studio experience than a live show, and they’re impressive as such: Closely and dynamically shot, they offer perspectives on the music making that you wouldn’t get if you were in the room.
On Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern time, the pianist Eric Reed and his quartet — Stacy Dillard on saxophone, Dezron Douglas on bass and McClenty Hunter on drums — will perform (tickets are $10). A sensitive but lively improviser, with heavy traces of Ahmad Jamal and Cedar Walton in his playing, Reed, 50, has been a straight-ahead jazz standard-bearer since the 1990s, when he was among the most acclaimed young musicians on the New York scene. On basically an annual basis, including last year’s “Everybody Gets the Blues,” Reed continues to release compelling records that mix jazz standards and originals, as well as the occasional pop cover.
‘Ed Sullivan,’ Revisited
A week after Jerry Stiller died in May, “The Ed Sullivan Show” YouTube channel uploaded several performances by Stiller and his wife, comedy partner and fellow Brooklyn native, Anne Meara, which appeared on the TV variety series in the 1960s and early ’70s. This release allowed fans to experience anew the couple’s onscreen chemistry, whether they were playing fictionalized versions of themselves or a reporter and a woman on the street.
Until recently, anyone searching for footage from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which was must-see TV in the ’50s and ’60s, had to settle for low-resolution bootlegs or abbreviated clips. Thanks to a deal last month with Universal Music Enterprises, SOFA Entertainment, which runs the Ed Sullivan website and the show’s YouTube channel, now has access to the entirety of the show’s archives and has begun posting performances daily.
One from Joan Rivers railing against double standards for men and women bolsters the many comparisons between her and the protagonist of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Other newly added videos include the first big breaks for Johnny Carson and for Fred Willard, as part of the duo Greco & Willard; and sets by George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Mason, Dick Cavett, Shelley Berman and Vaughn Monroe. This weekend, the channel will release footage of Robert Klein and Albert Brooks’s “Ventriloquist” routine.
SEAN L. McCARTHY
Under normal circumstances, summertime in New York City is a concertgoer’s paradise, with an ever-expanding roster of outdoor music events to choose from.
Among these, Elsewhere’s Rooftop series, which started in 2018, is a more recent entry. Though the Brooklyn concert hall’s open-air space has recently resumed limited food and drink service, shoulder-to-shoulder dance parties remain out of the question. Instead, Elsewhere is offering Sunstreams, a weekly series on the club’s Twitch channel that broadcasts live D.J. sets from its roof deck.
This week’s edition, streaming on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. Eastern time, will feature the South Florida native Jubilee. Known for her grab-bag strategy behind the decks, she tends to spin an eclectic mix of regional styles, from grime to dance hall to Miami bass. Though crowded clubs are her home turf, Jubilee’s first album, 2016’s “After Hours,” was inspired by drives she took alone with the speakers blaring — compelling evidence that dance music and social distancing are more compatible than they may seem.
Jubilee shares the bill with the Brooklyn-based D.J. Star Eyes. Sunstreams are free to view, but Elsewhere will match voluntary donations to a community resource or racial justice organization of the performers’ choosing. This week’s beneficiary is the Okra Project, which provides food to Black trans individuals in need.