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Bringing Boston together: The best events at WBUR CitySpace in 2022

Jennette McCurdy is shown wearing red pants and large white shoes with a black jacket while sitting next to Robin Young who is wearing black pants and a cream-colored sweater.
Author Jennette McCurdy speaks to Here & Now co-host Robin Young at WBUR CitySpace, Oct. 26, 2022.

The desire for community and conversation was tangible this year at CitySpace, WBUR's home for live journalism and culture events.

The year brought scientists out to discuss the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robots while politicians debated issues core to our democracy. Authors were back on book tours after years of hiatus and CitySpace was host to several remarkable conversations with Nina Totenberg, Chelsea Manning and Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, among so many others. Audiences convened for concerts again including the Sound On series, which featured artists like Ella Williams. When the singer-songwriter, who records as Squirrel Flower, took to the stage audiences embraced the local talent in a live music experience that will be remembered for years to come.

We even turned the CitySpace lobby into a bustling farmers market. But if there’s one take away from the year, it’s the importance of being together and participating in our community.

Here's a look back at our staff's favorite performances of 2022:

Phenomenal Women: An evening with tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel

It was a chilly November night in Boston, but for CitySpace audiences it was a joyful evening with choreographer and dancer Ayodele Casel sharing her life story, her passion for tap — an art form she discovered while in college — and her extraordinary commitment and discipline to learning the craft. The audience learned about tap’s roots in Black culture, particularly the women whose voices have been forgotten, and cheered when she performed. Here’s to Ayodele’s dream of choreographing a Marvel movie set to tap. — Amy Macdonald, director


Sound On: 2022 NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner Alisa Amador

As the 2022 winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest (and someone who has performed on our stage before) I knew Alisa Amador would bring all she had to her first hometown performance since going on tour with NPR. But even still, she upped the ante by surprising and delighting the crowd with an acoustic set that brought us to “Casa de Alisa” (“Alisa's House,”) complete with couches, blankets, lamps and music that captivated all our hearts. She is simply magical. — Candice Springer, assistant director


Confidence Man: New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s newsmaking book on President Donald Trump

If there was a byline that jumped off the page during the Trump presidency, it was Maggie Haberman at the New York Times. Haberman’s reporting on the White House beat was, and remains, so deeply sourced, thoughtful and vital to our understanding of a polarizing and mercurial public figure. Her highly anticipated book “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” is voluminous and a must-read. Here & Now co-host Robin Young’s conversation with Haberman brilliantly explored the nuance and comprehensive reporting that went into the book. (Bonus: Listen to a broadcast version of the event here.) — Steven Davy, senior producer


Ones To Watch: Ritual/System presented by Masary Studios

Masary’s Ritual/System performance really stood out to me this year as a unique entry, in not only our Ones To Watch series, but overall in the events that we have done in 2022. The immersive video, lighting and audio experience performed was not something frequently seen in CitySpace on such a large scale. Having the opportunity to provide not only an enriching, engaging and thoughtful art installation for the audience — but a fun dance party as well — made this event something special. — Michael Diffin, technical director


I'm Glad My Mom Died: #1 New York Times best-selling author Jennette McCurdy on her new heartbreaking and hilarious memoir

As CitySpace’s Gen-Z representative, I have to admit I watched a lot of “iCarly” growing up. But I never knew that co-star Jennette McCurdy was dealing with an abusive and overbearing mom behind the scenes. When McCurdy came to CitySpace in October to discuss her book “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” her candor blew me away. She showed so much humor and emotional intelligence about her very complicated relationship with her mother. Her experience makes me want to be kinder to everyone around me and find humor everywhere. (Bonus: Listen to a broadcast version of the event here.) — Anna Michelsen, event coordinator


Ones To Watch: Shattering the glass ceiling with mariachi singer Veronica Robles

In March, Boston-based mariachi singer Veronica Robles took the stage. Robles is the founder of the first female mariachi band in Boston. I wouldn't have ever thought we'd have a nine-piece Mariachi band in CitySpace, but I don't think I've seen any of our audiences dance as hard as they did at that show. — Adam Straus, technical associate


Coming up at WBUR CitySpace in 2023

While we’re hard at work preparing for our 2023 spring season, we’ve already locked in some excellent events you should put on your calendar. Highlights include a conversation with Danish rapper Sleiman and journalist Dart Adams about their book, “Instead We Became Evil: A True Story of Survival and Perseverance.” We’ll also welcome Julian Shapiro-Barnum who created the wildly popular and hilarious internet sensation, “Recess Therapy.” One more highlight we’re already warming the oven for, as part of our popular Curated Cuisine series, we’ll be celebrating Pi Day with Lauren Ko, author of the New York Times bestseller "Pieometry."

Related:

Steven Davy Twitter Senior Producer, WBUR CitySpace

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