The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum continued its Gardner After Hours series last month with a celebration of the Venetian carnival season. The series is billed as “a new kind of night out, featuring live music, art, conversation, cocktails, and more in an inviting atmosphere,” and is alternately partnered with another of the museum’s regular concert series, either Jazz at the Gardner or Composer Portraits. February’s jazz installment showcased the ensemble Cirkestra, a group engaging with a long history of European folk music written to accompany traveling circus performances.
In the service of this “new kind of night out,” the After Hours series draws upon the many resources particular to this museum. Guests entered through a small, crowded foyer. From there, they spilled into the museum’s main courtyard, a lush, Italianate space adorned with classical, medieval, and Asian sculptures, which surround a central mosaic floor that Isabella herself imported from Rome in 1897. Well before the concert began, the rooms filled with a large, smartly dressed crowd taking part in cocktails, conversation, and an ambient set by the Boston-based DJ Die Young. And the labyrinthine, easily crowded layout of the courtyard encouraged casual mingling.
The After Hours multi-tiered ticketing scheme permits patrons to choose to attend either the gallery soirée, or the concert, or both. Indeed, there were guests who did not repair to the second floor Tapestry Room for the Jazz at the Gardner component of the evening. While many of the older (and much younger) guests attended the concert upstairs, entrance to which required a costlier ticket, others sipped cocktails and conversed in the courtyard, and others still explored the museum’s many galleries featuring European, American, and Asian artworks from diverse periods. And the ordinarily lunch-only Gardner Café offered small plates and sit-down meals until 9 pm.
Taking place on the third Thursday of each month, the Gardner After Hours series pairs more formal concert-going with the intimacy of a private cocktail party. The series continues on March 19th as the museum celebrates the opening of its new exhibit, Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia with a performance by sitarists Michael Jarjoura and Jerry Leake, and South American-infused jazz by the Melissa Aldana Quartet.