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Nov 292015
 

Arts Fuse critics select the best in film, theater, dance, music, visual arts, and author events for the coming week.

By The Arts Fuse Staff

Film

Boston Area Film Schedules—What is Playing Today, Where, and When

A scene from the documentary "Frame by Frame."

A scene from the documentary “Frame By Frame.”

Frame By Frame
November 30 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own—reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four people in pursuit of truth. Filmmakers Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach will be there in person for a Q&A. Prior to this feature, the DocYard will present the Frontline short film Love and Cancer at 27.

Of Men and War
November 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA

Anger consumes a dozen American combat vets long after their return from the front. The warriors have come home, but their minds are stuck out on the battlefield. Wives, children, and parents bear the brunt of their fractured spirits. At The Pathway Home, a first-of-its-kind PTSD therapy center, the documentary’s protagonists resolve to heal their spirits and end the self-destruction. Their therapist is a Vietnam vet himself, helping the young men find meaning in their trauma. Of Men and War explores their grueling paths to recovery, as they attempt to make peace with themselves, their past, and their families. Half-price admission for veterans or active members of the Military and their families.

Fat
December 1 at 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA

Ken won’t change his ways. Addicted to food, the guy is in bad health, headed to an early grave. Despite getting plenty of help and advice from his friends and doctors, he eats what he wants, when he wants, until a chance encounter with love might just give him the motivation he needs to save himself. Fat is a gritty, dramatic look at weight and food addiction. It is an unflinching story based on writer/director Mark Phinney’s own experiences. Shot on location in Boston, Fat is a low-dough, independent, real-life look at depression, eating, and the toll it takes. Director Phinney will conduct a Q&A after the screening.

The Queen Of Silence
December 3 at 7 p.m.
UMass Boston Campus Center, Ballroom C, Boston, MA

10-year-old Denisa is an outcast in many ways. She is an illegal citizen of a gypsy camp in Poland. In addition, she doesn’t speak because no one has ever diagnosed her severe hearing disabilities. She lives in a world of her own, full of rhythm and dance, imitating the glamorous women from some Bollywood DVDs she fished out of the garbage. When she is dancing she can be anyone she wants, escaping from a harsh reality by expressing what she can’t say—joy, sadness and fear. Director Agnieszka Zwiefka will be on hand for a Q&A. Free and open to the public.

Bright Lights: Brand—A Second Coming from W. Logan Freeman on Vimeo.

Brand—A Second Coming
December 3 at 7 p.m.
Bright Family Screening Room, The Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA

This documentary “follows comedian/author/activist Russell Brand as he dives headlong into drugs, sex, and fame in an attempt to find happiness, only to realize that our culture feeds us on bad ideas and empty idols.” Through his stand-up comedy, Brand hails his own true icons—Gandhi, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, and Jesus Christ. He evolves from being an addict into a Hollywood star and then turns into an unexpected political disruptor, a newfound hero for the underserved. Will Brand hold fast against the roar of criticism that greets his attempt to break out of the very system that made him? A discussion with Professor Martie Cook follows the screening.

The Messenger
December 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Regent Theatre, Arlington, MA

For thousands of years, songbirds were regarded by mankind as messengers from the gods. Today, these creatures – woven inextricably into the fabric of our environment – are vanishing at an alarming rate. Under threat from climate change, pesticides and more, populations of hundreds of species have dipped dramatically. Find out what’s killing our songbirds, and what can be done about it. As in ancient times, songbirds may once again be carrying a vital message to humans – one that we ignore at our own peril. Post-Screening Q&A and discussion with Wayne R. Petersen, the director of Massachusetts Important Bird Area Program.

The Forbidden Room
December 4–20
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

Directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, 2015′s The Forbidden Room “continues down a radioactive live wire of narrative convolution, rarely surfacing for air from its starting point, a perverse game of exquisite corpse that alternately evokes frantic channel hopping and the subterranean logic of the human subconscious. Transitions grow more and more deranged (at one point, we enter the daydream of a slain man’s moustache), protagonists swap out every few minutes, and the same actors reappear in as many as five ludicrous iterations. Most remarkably, Maddin and Johnson have cooked up a truly one-of-a-kind hybrid of high-definition digital and organic analog filmmaking, an aggressive fusion that makes their epileptic montage appear as though the surface of a boiling broth.” (HFA description)

Our Mockingbird
December 4 at 7 p.m.
Boston University’s COM Building, Room 101, 640 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA

A BU graduate in Broadcasting and Film went home to Alabama to film a fascinating documentary about how two high schools—one mostly white, the other mostly African American—teamed up to produce a stage version (with music) of To Kill a Mockingbird. Is there hope for meaningful racial progress in the New South? There will be a Q&A with director Sandra Jaffe. Free and open to the public

—Tim Jackson


Dance

José Mateo Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker celebrates its 30th anniversary this winter.

José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” celebrates its 30th anniversary this winter.

José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker
Through December 6
Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA
December 11–20
Strand Theatre, Dorchester, MA

José Mateo Ballet Theatre celebrates its 30th year of presenting The Nutcracker in Greater Boston. In honor of the anniversary, this year’s production features new sets and costuming, two Boston venues, and special student performances available to local schools.

Gumdrops & The Funny Uncle
December 4 & 5 at 8 p.m.
Dance Complex, Cambridge, MA

Gumdrops & The Funny Uncle was created from the desire to give audiences and communities an opportunity to explore the complicated concept of “family”—what it means to belong to a circle of people. Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion proffers an evening of dance that aims to help us better understand how all of us fit in—especially as the air-brushed holiday entertainment and Hallmark images of “family” crowd out reality.

Aurora Borealis 2015: A Festival of Light and Dance
December 6 at 7:30 p.m. and December 7 at 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Boston University Dance Theater, Boston, MA

Head to Boston University for a welcome holiday alternative: Aurora Borealis highlights new dance works by both BU faculty and students, including a trapeze duet, a Hip Hop and Cardio Jazz Funk medley, and a solo delving into the world of a male ballet dancer.

—Merli V. Guerra


Visual Arts

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Children’s Imagined Robots: an Invitation to Co-Design
Organized by the Center for Children’s Speculative Design
December 2–January 9, 2016
Harvard Graduate School of Education, 6 Appian Way, Cambridge, MA

Who doesn’t like robots? And how can you not be curious about the automatons of all sizes and shapes that kids dream up? This traveling exhibition features the work of 84 robot designers (8–11 years old) from near-opposite sides of the globe: Tomsk, Russia, and Boston, MA. The aim is “to amplify children’s diverse ideas for what robots could be and explore ‘what if…?’ learning scenarios.”

—Bill Marx


Jazz

Arturo Sandoval
November 29 at 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

The 66-year-old Cuban expat trumpeter, pianist, composer, and sometime vocalist Arturo Sandoval is a dynamo of ingratiating enthusiasm and virtuoso skill. Scullers has booked him for six shows, including two on Sunday.

Matchbox
November 29 at 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

Matchbox comprises four formidable players who like to dance along the line between composition and free improvisation: Jorrit Dijkstra on alto sax and Lyricon, Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Curt Newton. They’re celebrating a CD release on the Cambridge-based Driff Records.

JCA presents “Winds, Strings & Mallets”
December 1 at 8 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

A “subset” of the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra presents music for, as the sign says, “Winds, Strings & Mallets,” with compositions by Dave Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Helen Sherrah-Davies, performed by saxophonists Phil Scarf, Rick Stone, Lance Van Lenten, and Melanie Howe Brooks; Sherrah-Davies on violin; vibes and marimba player Vessela Stoyanova; and singer Rebecca Shrimpton (as the non-winds/string/mallets wildcard?).

Daniel Rosenthal Quintet
December 2 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA

The fine trumpeter and composer Daniel Rosenthal fronts a quintet with Charlie Kohlhase on alto and baritone saxophones, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Luther Gray.

Jack DeJohnette Trio
December 4 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA

The trio of veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette, 73, with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matt Garrison, has created a lot of buzz. Ravi is, you’ll recall, the son of jazz deity John Coltrane, and Matt is the son of John Coltrane Quartet bassist Jimmy Garrison. Expect the emphasis to be on spontaneous exploration. (A CD is planned with ECM.) A discussion with DeJohnette and jazz critic Bob Blumenthal precedes the concert at 7 p.m. in Berklee’s second-floor Davis Room, but seating is limited and an RSVP is required.

Mili Bermejo/Dan Greenspan
December 8 at 7 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

The distinguished Mexican-born singer and songwriter Mili Bermejo continues her residency at the Lilypad with her husband, bassist Dan Greenspan.

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Robert Glasper Trio
December 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

The pianist and composer grabbed a share of the pop audience with 2012’s Black Radio (Blue Note) and its follow-up. He’s back with the original acoustic trio with whom he began recording for Blue Note, bassist Vincente Archer and drummer Damion Reid. The trio’s new disc, Covered, explores a variety of pop and R&B (Radiohead, Joni Mitchell, Bilal), as well as a couple of originals and standards.

—Jon Garelick


Theater

Stephanie DiMaggio as Myrna Minkoff and Nick Offerman as Ignatius J. Reilly in "A Confederacy of Dunces" at the Huntington Theatre Company. Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

Stephanie DiMaggio as Myrna Minkoff and Nick Offerman as Ignatius J. Reilly in “A Confederacy of Dunces” at the Huntington Theatre Company. Photo: T. Charles Erickson.

A Confederacy of Dunces, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the novel by John Kennedy Toole. Directed by David Esbjornson. Staged by the Huntington Theater Company at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA, through December 20.

An exciting prospect—a stage version of Toole’s playfully Swiftian satire. “Nick Offerman (TV’s Parks and Recreation) stars as the larger-than-life character Ignatius J. Reilly: overweight, arrogant, eccentric, and still living with his mother in 1960s New Orleans. Called the Don Quixote of the French Quarter, Ignatius has a singular outlook on life. His farcical odyssey includes a riot in a department store and a raid on a strip club, and stints working at a pants factory and as a hot dog vendor.” Read the full reviews on The Arts Fuse here and here.

Arabian Nights, an adaption of One Thousand and One Nights by Dominic Cooke. Staged by the Nora Theatre Company and the Underground Railway Theater Company at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, through January 3, 2016.

A revival of an award-winning production: a stage version of “a collection of folk tales from the Middle East and Asia.” The presentation “is rich with suspense, romance and hilarity—stories irresistible for all ages, and at its heart, the power of the imagination to heal, inspire, and transform.”

peerless by Jiehae Park. Directed by Margo Bordelon. Staged by Yale Rep at the Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through December 19.

The world premiere of a new comedy that pits youth against academia: “In an ordinary Midwestern high school, twin sisters M and L are competitive with everyone—except each other. When the failsafe combination of perfect academics, killer extracurriculars, and calculated self-identification fails to impress The College’s early decision admissions board, they hatch a sinister Plan B to secure their future.”

One Child Born: The Music of Laura Nyro by Louis Greenstein and Kate Ferber. Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at Oberon, Cambridge, MA, through December 10.

This acclaimed one-woman show (starring Kate Ferber) “celebrates the music and creative force of the late singer-songwriter and rock and Roll Hall of Famer whose pop masterpieces — including “Eli’s Comin’,” “And When I Die,” “Save the Country,” and “Stoney End”—topped the charts in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

The Snow Queen by Kirsten Brandt, Haddon Kime, and Rick Lombardo. Directed and choreographed by Lombardo. Staged by New Repertory Theatre in the Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, through December 20.

A pop/rock musical “based on the same Hans Christian Andersen story as Disney’s Frozen.” The production features a cast of Boston favorites including Aimee Doherty, Maureen Keiller, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, and Nick Sulfaro. The production will mark the first time Rick Lombardo has returned to direct at New Rep since his departure in 2009.

The Shepards’ Singularity, a Come On Over Ensemble Theater collaboration loosely based on The Second Shepherds’ Play, a medieval comedy. Directed by Wanda Strukus. Staged by Come On Over Ensemble at the YMCA Theater, 820 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, December 3 through 13.

The world premiere of a show that appears to be taking holiday entertainment into the realm of science fiction: “Come On Over has incorporated this medieval legend into a futuristic play about the technological Singularity: the premise that artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence by 2030, rendering human beings obsolete. Shepherds, technology experts, Bethlehem Pennsylvania, old-school computer games, angels, scorned wives, and sheep collide in this fantastic journey through time, space, and what it means to be human.”

Return of the Winemaker: An Irish Christmas Comedy by Bernard McMullan. Directed by Carmel O’Reilly. Staged by Tir Na Productions at the Davis Square Theatre, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA, December 2 through 20.

Here’s the premise of what must be an evening of absolute whimsy. Or TV’s Fox News will condemn this show as an enemy of Xmas: “Instead of Bethlehem, Jesus was born in Ireland. Ballyhoura, County Galway, to be exact. He cured a few goats of liver fluke in his youth and there was talk of him being able walk across Walsh’s bog but nobody ever took him seriously until one day when he turned water into wine.” Besides the production’s expert director, there’s a strong cast: Nancy E. Carroll, Colin Hamell, Stephen Russell, and Derry Woodhouse.

Not About My Mother by Lizzie Milanovich. Directed by Cassie Lovering. Staged by Fresh Ink Theatre at the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, December 4 through 12.

The summary of the plot sounds like another contemporary variation on Arthur Miller’s The Price: “After their mother’s funeral, two half-sisters reunite in their family basement to begin clearing out the house. Unpacking pretty clothes and bitter memories, Midge and Nancy confront the aftershocks of a troubled childhood through the ghost of the Gold Dust Woman they called Mom.”

Matchless & The Happy Prince, by Gregory Maguire and Oscar Wilde. Directed by Debra Wise. Staged by the Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theater, Cambridge, MA, through December 6.

Holiday entertainment for all ages. Gregory Maguire (Wicked) spins a surprising variation on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Little Match Girl. Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” is a fable for children that “celebrates an unlikely friendship with his signature wit, humor, and heart. Both stories are intimately staged with actors and puppets.”

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) by Michael Carelton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez. Original music by Will Knapp. Directed by Allison Benko. At Gloucester Stage, 267 Main Street, Gloucester, MA, December 3 through 20.

I am always on the look out for sharp parodies/spoofs/send-ups of Christmas shows. (A symptom of spending decades sitting through uninspired productions of A Christmas Carol.) This sounds promising: “The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown, and George Bailey—and just about every other holiday character—make an appearance in this hilarious comedy when three actors decide to retell every Christmas story ever told in only 90 minutes rather than perform yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol.” Let’s hope that Scrooge doesn’t make an appearance.

Buyer & Cellar by Jonathan Tolins. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA, December 4 through January 3.

“When you’re an out-of-work L.A. actor, what better job could you imagine than being the sole employee of the ‘Great Mall of Malibu’—Barbra Streisand’s treasure-filled basement!” Stars Phil Tayler.

Photo: ingracephotography.com

A scene from the Boston Public Works production of “Hard and Fast: A Love Story. Photo: ingracephotography.com.

Hard and Fast: A Love Story by Jess Foster. Directed by Dawn M. Simmons. Staged by Boston Public Works at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA through December 5.

A romance about men and their cars: Roger, a struggling mechanic, has a real passion for restoring classics. He’s finally found his dream car, “Audra,” a 1958 Austin Healey. When a wealthy lawyer wants the car for his 16-year old son Parker, the offer’s too good for Roger to refuse. He makes one stipulation: Parker must help finish the car’s restoration to understand its true value.”

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, a musical adaptation of an excerpt from Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace by Dave Malloy. Directed by Rachel Chavkin. Choreographed by Sam Pinkleton. Staged by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, MA, December 6 through January 3.

“Natasha is young, Anatole is hot, and Andrey isn’t here…But what about Pierre?” What about Tolstoy? Hey, he didn’t write musicals, so he couldn’t see that War & Peace had a beat you could dance to. “This electropop opera is Tolstoy like you’ve never experienced him before. Step into a glamorous, romantic world of chandeliers, vodka and caviar in the salons and opera houses of 19th century Moscow, where passions ignite as Napoleon’s war rages outside the city.” Features “an immersive set designed by 2015 MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winner, Mimi Lien.”

—Bill Marx


Rock, Pop, and Folk

The Susan Cattaneo Band
December 1 at 8:30 p.m.
Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA

Susan Cattaneo is an Emmy-nominated songwriter, recording artist, and associate professor in the Songwriting Department at the Berklee College of Music. On December 1, she and her six-member band begin a month-long Tuesday night residency at the Lizard Lounge on Mass Ave just outside of Harvard Square. A different opening act will join Cattaneo each week; this Tuesday’s performer will be the seasoned American folk singer Tracy Grammer.

Martha Davis and the Motels will be play at Johnny D's this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Martha Davis and the Motels will be play at Johnny D’s this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Martha Davis and The Motels
December 4 at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA

Having played Beverly’s Larcom Theatre in April and Somerville’s Johnny D’s in August, a final visit to the latter venue seems like a good way for the sultry-voiced Martha Davis to top off a year that found her return to touring in full-swing. “Only the Lonely,” “Suddenly Last Summer,” and “Shame” will each forever elicit responses of “oh yeah, I’ve heard that one,” but The Motels were always much more than their big hits revealed—and that itself was quite a bit. (Boston-based Eddie Japan opens.)

Jeffrey Foucault
December 5 at 7 p.m.
Cuisine En Locale, Somerville, MA

The Wisconsin native who now calls Western Massachusetts home is currently touring in support of his new album Salt As Wolves. United in their respective praise of the folk singer-songwriter, Foucault’s work is one of the presumably few things on which The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal agree. Check him out on Saturday at Somerville’s newest up-and-coming venue.

All Them Witches will perform at Great Scott's this week. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

All Them Witches will perform at Great Scott this week. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

All Them Witches
December 5 at 9 p.m.
Great Scott, Allston, MA

Taking its name from the title of the book that Mia Farrow’s character receives in Rosemary’s Baby, All Them Witches is a hard-driving prog-metal/neo-psychedelic quartet out of Nashville that combines dark-as-Black Sabbath riffs with delicate acoustic guitars and soothing violin touches that nonetheless sound downright spooky in context. Equally at home with taut three-minute rockers and sprawling six- to eight-minute epics, the band’s sound is sure to fill every square centimeter of Great Scott on Saturday.

—Blake Maddux


Classical Music

New Gates
Presented by Ludovico Ensemble
December 1 at 8 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brookline, MA

Ludovico wraps up its fall performance schedule with music by Keeril Makan, Marti Epstein, and John Tavener. Featured performers are Aliana de la Guardia, Jessi Rosinski, Anna Griffis, and Amanda Romano.

NEC Philharmonia plays Shostakovich
Presented by New England Conservatory
December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

David Loebel conducts Haydn’s “Military” Symphony followed, appropriately, by Shostakovich’s mammoth war-scarred Eighth.

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope
Presented by Beth Morrison Productions
December 3 at 7 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

Snider’s adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey comes to Boston for a one-time performance by Carla Kihlstedt and the Firebird Ensemble, conducted by Jeffrey Means.

Through the Looking Glass
Presented by Grand Harmonie
December 3 at 8 p.m.
Granoff Music Center, Medford, MA

Grand Harmonie concludes its fall season with a free program that pairs music by one-time antagonists Richard Wagner (the Siegfried-Idyll) and Johannes Brahms (arrangements of the Liebeslieder Walzer and a new reconstruction of the Serenade no. 1). Also on the bill are Heinrich Scherer’s Old French Dances.

Holiday Pops
Presented by the Lexington Symphony
December 5 and 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Cary Hall, Lexington, MA

The LSO’s season continues with a seasonal program of favorite holiday music, sing-alongs, and “a special visit from the North Pole.”

In Mo Yang plays Paganini
Presented by the Longwood Symphony Orchestra
December 5 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Violinist Yang plays Paganini’s fiendishly virtuosic Violin Concerto no. 1. LSO music director Ronald Feldman conducts additional works by Rossini and Stravinsky.

Family Concert
Concord Orchestra
December 6 at 2 p.m.
51 Walden Street, Concord, MA

Richard Pittman leads the CO in a holiday-themed concert that includes Robert Kapilow’s adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express (with David Kravitz), as well as pieces by Johann Strauss, Silvestre Revueltas, Elgar, and Samuel Adler.

—Jonathan Blumhofer

The Boston Conservatory Chamber Series
December 2 at 8 p.m.
Seully Hall, 8 The Fenway, Boston, MA

The program includes: Mozart’s Duo in G Major KV 423, featuring Sharan Leventhal and Rebecca Miller; Debussy’s Cello Sonata, featuring Rhonda Rider and Ruoyang Xiang; and Ravel’s Duo, featuring Jeremiah-Everard Barcus and Lynn Chang.

Irish-born mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught’s star is rising. She performs in Boston his week, courtesy of the Celebrity Series of Boston.

Irish-born mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught’s star is rising. She performs in Boston his week, courtesy of the Celebrity Series of Boston.

Tara Erraught, mezzo-soprano
December 2 at 8 p.m.
Presented by the Celebrity Series at Longy’s Pickman Hall, Cambridge, MA

With Henning Ruhe on piano; the program will include works by Brahms, Liszt, Delius, Quilter, and R. Strauss.

J. S. Bach, Complete Brandenburg Concertos, BWV 1046–1051
December 5 at 8 p.m. and December 6 at 4 p.m.
First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA

The Chameleon Arts Ensemble take on J.S. Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos, “which are among the composer’s towering achievements, a perfect display of his genius and dazzling virtuosity and an exuberant finale for our celebration of his influence.”

—Susan Miron


Author Events

Hanya Yanagihara
A Little Life
In Conversation with Christopher Castellani
November 30 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA
Free

One of the clear candidates in the year-end tally of the year’s best books: the novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. Yanagihara’s novel revolves around four friends from Massachusetts who are making their way in New York City. The responses from readers that I’ve seen have varied from incredibly moved to annoyed at the story’s pathos, which makes the opportunity to see her read from the book in person all the more intriguing.

Suzanne Berne, Sven Birkerts, Joan Wickersham, and Jonathan Wilson
Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction
November 30 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
Free

An all-star lineup reads and discusses a new anthology of flash fiction. Over 80 pieces have been assembled, including a wide range of contemporary voices, perspectives, and new literary forms, spanning the breadth of the genre from rants to raves, lyrical and realistic, polemics and ruminations.

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Russ Lopez
Boston’s South End: The Clash of Ideas in a Historic Neighborhood
December 1 at 6:30 p.m.
South End Library, 685 Tremont Street, Boston MA
Free

When Lopez was visiting the South End as a student at the Kennedy School of Government, the native Californian fell in love with the neighborhood. He will read from his new work in the South End Library and tackle issues of class, race, gentrification, and other struggles with the realities posed by urban renewal.

Juan Felipe Herrera
December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall, Smith College, Northampton, MA
Free

The current poet laureate—and the first Latino to be appointed to the position—will read from his work at Smith College. He has won many awards for his poetry and his work in “encouraging others to speak, to speak up and write with their voices and their family stories and their sense of humor and their deep concerns and their way of speaking their own language.”

Serhii Plokhy
The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine
December 4 at 3 p.m.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
Free

Ukraine has been in the news quite a bit lately, battling with Russia over preserving its political autonomy and its political representation. But the conflict is deeply rooted in a bloody and complex history. Plokhy, a Harvard historian of Ukraine, traces the lines of its history through Roman rule and the Ottoman Empire into the Third Reich and the reign of Putin.

Barry Moser
We Were Brothers
December 7 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
Free

Barry and Tommy Moser were born in Tennessee and had family, geography, schooling, and everything else in common, including the exposure to the insidious presence of racism and anti-Semitism. One brother left for New England and a life in the arts and the other stayed put. Mosher’s memoir examines their stories in light of how their lives and outlooks diverged.

An Evening of Inspired Leaders: A Reading with Robert Pinsky, David McCullough, and others
December 7
Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA
Tickets are $25

In an event co-sponsored by Mass Humanities and the Favorite Poem Project, a distinguished group of readers come to read a favorite poem to help support Mass Poetry. Readers include former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, award-winning historian and biographer David McCullough, and Diane Patrick, the former first lady of Massachusetts, Andre Dubus III, Peter Wolf, and NPR’s brilliant Tom Ashbrook.

—Matt Hanson

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