Her resume may include posing as a statue, but Amanda Palmer is not one for standing still. Palmer, a performer, composer and musician whose best known incarnation is as front woman and keyboardist for the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, joins The Boston Pops tonight for a New Year’s Eve celebration
Her resume may include posing as a statue, but Amanda Palmer is not one for standing still.
Palmer, a performer, composer and musician whose best known incarnation is as front woman and keyboardist for the punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, joins The Boston Pops tonight for a New Year’s Eve celebration that includes Palmer performing the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano No. 1, Dresden Dolls material, and songs from her recent solo album, “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?”
The show’s scheduled lineup features an array of pre- and post-concert performances, with Palmer’s friend, composer Sxip Shirey, Adam Matta, April Smith and The Great Picture Show, Miss Tess and The Bon Ton Parade, and more.
There also will be a premiere of the film “Statuesque,” by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman (“Coraline”). Gaiman and Palmer recently announced they were dating as well as collaborating artistically.
Here, Palmer, a graduate of Lexington High School, talks about the show, classical music and her groundbreaking career:
Q. What is preparation for a show of this magnitude like?
A. I specifically took the month of December off to prepare. I spent the afternoons with my vocal coach. I have been at home playing Tchaikovsky. Which is hard for me, I am a lazy rock and roll slug. But I’ve been practicing for an hour a day, at least. It is really very unlike me and the discipline has been a medicine to my soul. There’s been tons of e-mailing and lots of phone calls, and talking with (conductor) Keith Lockhart.
Q. Is this show a way to see traditional things such as classical music with new eyes?
A. The audience for classical music is constantly diminishing. Most of my fans, who are generally into rock music and clubbing, have not stepped foot into Symphony Hall. They haven’t had a relationship with the Boston Pops. So this is a way for the Pops to make themselves visible to a new generation who wouldn’t necessarily think to go to Symphony Hall. You need to start getting creative, and use weirder, stranger crossover stuff.
Q. Does this make you, in a sense, an ambassador?
A. Yes, but I have never been a quote-unquote “serious musician.” I learned how to read by ear. I don’t sight read music. But, I grew up in a church choir, singing Brahms and Handel. I know what my roots are and I can’t escape them. Classical music is one of the fundamental blocks of where I came from. My job is to say, classical music is something you don’t have to take so seriously. It’s smart to educate people about how rebellious and interesting many classical composers were. You get into trouble the minute you make anything too sacred. This is why I love The Pops. They are so open-minded, so playful and willing to have fun.
Q. What comes through a lot in your music is a kind of satire, and some of it is self-deprecating.
A. I struggled all through my teens and 20s with my identity as an artist and writer and singer. I was coming in slightly under the mark in every department. I didn’t have a great voice, wasn’t a great piano player, and I was wondering what I was doing. I worked my way through a lot of issues by simply stating things – including fear and confusion.
Q. One of your songs you posted recently on You Tube names yourself, Madonna and Lady Gaga in a pop continuum. It was humorous, but there was a serious note in it about female pop stars coming under criticism.
A. The minute you put yourself into the public eye, by creating your own music and packaging yourself, you are making yourself open to all criticism. That is a kind of a deal with the devil that you sign. The minute you write a song and put yourself out there, the unspoken agreement is, “It’s now OK culturally for you to call me fat, intelligent, great.” It’s a really hard job, even if you have self-confidence up the wazoo.
Q. Have there been women you see as role models?
A. For better or for worse, Madonna was a huge role model. When I was 10, I had Madonna fever. I think the Madonnas and the Lady Gagas are important. Even if you think the music is unchallenging, commercial pop drivel, somewhere behind all that is the important message that this is a woman in charge. She is running the show.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Boston Pops Presents New Year’s Eve with Amanda Palmer
WHERE: Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston
WHEN: 8 tonight
TICKETS: $45 to $160; available by calling 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200; or at Symphony Hall box office
The Patriot Ledger