The Lockwood List
Bill Lockwood has been responsible for McCarter’s Special Programs for almost half a century—bringing thousands of world-renowned and emerging artists in every genre to our stages. His eye for talent dates back to the days when he produced his first concerts as a Princeton undergrad.
Until we can gather together again, enjoy Bill’s curated recommendations and enjoy these performances from the comfort of your home. To see previous iterations of this series, Bill's early talent picks can be found by scrolling down the page, with the most recent highlights at the top. Check back soon as we continue to add exciting artists to this list!
Sullivan Fortner, jazz pianist
When Wynton Marsalis was last at McCarter, I asked him who the rising jazz piano stars were. He mentioned Joey Alexander, who has been at McCarter three times; and Sullivan Fortner, who is No.1 on my wish-list for tomorrow. Fortner is one of jazz’ unsung heroes — unsung to the public perhaps, but not to the Jazz world, since his collaborators include everyone under the sun. He’s from New Orleans and was Cecile McLorin Salvant’s partner on her 2018 duet album The Window. Want a definition of jazz? Here is Fortner’s: “Jazz is a paradox. It’s inclusive and non-inclusive at the same time. It’s ugly and it’s beautiful. It’s raw and it’s refined.” Has anyone said it better?
The Gandini Jugglers
Words alone cannot do them justice — you have to watch them do Smashed. Your jaw will drop. This is not just juggling, the UK-based Gandini Jugglers take it to a new level. In their hands, juggling becomes flights of inspired poetry, musical choreography, crazy-comic surrealism, and darkly absurdist drama. They played a major role in the Met Opera’s production of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten. The other star of that opera was a Princeton alum, the renowned countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who would have been at McCarter this Spring in Handel’s Rodelinda. He will hopefully be back at some point, perhaps even with the Gandinis next time!
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello & Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano
If you watched the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan (and honestly, who missed it?), then you saw the sensational British cellist whose performance catapulted him to overnight fame. His name is Sheku Kanneh-Mason and he is only one of an extraordinary musical septet of siblings, including his pianist sister Isata, his frequent recital partner and a major artist in her own right. But Sheku is no mere wunderkind or child prodigy, he is the real-deal. And today (he’s now 19), he can claim a rightful place as one of the most remarkable and prodigious new talents to emerge in years, especially for a cellist. Take a look at Sheku’s Royal Wedding performance and then move on to his stunning new CD of the Elgar Cello Concerto, one of the iconic cornerstones of the cello literature.
Billy Strings, bluegrass guitar
For those of you who were lucky enough to see vocal trio I’m With Her perform at McCarter last season, perhaps you remember the bluegrass singer/songwriter/guitarist who opened the evening. His name is Billy Strings, and almost overnight he has become the latest superstar of the bluegrass community. Strings more than lives up to his name, taking the art of bluegrass picking to a new level, and jam concerts — fixtures of the “jamgrass” scene — are legendary. His fan base is huge and while some of what he does admittedly transcends the traditional boundaries of bluegrass, that is precisely his intent and what makes him so unique.
Jakub is the new countertenor sensation (the next Anthony Roth Costanzo?) and has also been a model and break-dancer. These clips attest to his virtuosity and dynamism.
The best singer/songwriter you’ve never heard of. (Gloria Steinem is a big fan!) Henry has been around for quite a while but has kept a low profile. His latest CD, The Gospel According to Water, was my biggest discovery of 2019. Think: Bob Dylan. He’s that good. When I first listened to him, I said to myself “Bill, where have you been?”
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
20-year old Delta Blues guitarist/singer/songwriter – maybe the future of the Blues? His sound encompasses BB King, Jimmi Hendrix, and Prince. I can’t wait to get him to McCarter. His debut CD is simply entitled Kingfish, which says it all.
A mesmerizing and inventive pianist from Iceland who is making waves and helping to define the next generation of classical artists, similarly to Igor Levit. He manages to make Bach seem hip. Could he be the next Glenn Gould?