In 2013, comedian Bill Murray was going through airport security when he saw a man carrying a very large box. “Are you going to be able to fit that thing in the overhead compartment?” he asked. The man, who happened to be world-renowned German cellist Jan Vogler, explained that his Stradivarius cello actually gets its own first-class seat. The conversation turned into a friendship that’s blossomed into an unlikely collaboration: a variety show, “New Worlds,” in which Murray sings show tunes and reads poems and excerpts from novels while accompanied by a classical chamber music trio consisting of Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez. Vogler discussed the unlikely union ahead of the group’s Friday performance at Strathmore.
How did you choose the pieces for the performance?
Our aim was to really make something completely new, but with elements taken from the greatest American music and literature of the last 250 years. We start with [Walt] Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” and the Bach cello suite, because these pieces are contemplating life as a whole and reflecting on who we are on this planet. Then we go into James Fenimore Cooper, who describes untouched landscapes in New York. Schubert, in Europe, read Cooper and was a big nature admirer as well, so we put them together. We are touching on a lot of subjects, touching on all the important things about humanity and about our existence — but in an entertaining way.