Fuse Coming Attractions: What Will Light Your Fire This Week

Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, film, visual arts, theater, author readings, and dance that’s coming up in the next week.

By The Arts Fuse Staff


Boston Area Film Schedules — What is playing today, Where and When

Charles Laughton in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" -- a great performance that can be seen at the Brattle Theatre this week.

Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” — a great performance that can be seen at the Brattle Theatre this week.

National Gallery
November 16 – 30
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Previewed last week, Frederick Wiseman’s latest film begins today with a 2-week run at the MFA. Wiseman is worth patient viewing on the big screen. His films rarely play commercials houses and almost never appear on Netflix and the like. This latest film looks at the great museum’s working and relations with the world, its staff and public, and its paintings. “In a perpetual and dizzying game of mirrors, film watches painting watches film.” (MFA website)

Sweet Smell of Success
Monday, November 17
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA

If you have never seen this engrossing study of media, public relations and amorality, you will be thrilled. Clifford Odets’s and Ernest Lehman’s sharp screenplay (directed by Alexander Mackendrick) wallows in greed, power-mongering, sexual manipulation, and treachery. Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, both playing against type, deliver their sardonic lines with vicious perfection. Lancaster’s J.J. Hunsecker is a megalomaniacal villain (based on gossip columnist Walter Winchell) and Curtis is an obsequious amoral press agent whose seamy schemes go desperately awry. There will be a post-screening conversation with special guests (including director Melia Bensussen) from the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing!.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Friday, November 21, 7 p.m.
Harvard Film Archive, Cambridge, MA

This romantic musical tale — featuring Catherine Deneuve “saturated in color and song” — is a Jacques Demy masterpiece, an influential and (for once the word really applies) magical film. It begins a screening of all of Deny’s work at the Film Archives throughout November and December. This is a wonderful opportunity to see an under-appreciated, often patronized artist who has been called “the Joseph Cornell of French cinema … a conscious primitive, a miniaturist, a creator of pristine other-worlds of true enchantment.” (Cinema: A Critical Dictionary)

Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

As part of the Reel Music Film Festival Repertory Series, the Brattle presents a screening of a collaboration between Jarvis Cocker, the front man for the UK pop band Pulp and New Zealand filmmaker Florian Habicht. The triumphant final concert of Pulp is blended within a loving portrait of the town where group began: “the film tells the story of the band from the streets of Sheffield with the help of friends, family and fans, aged and youthful alike.” (The Observer) See the full schedule for all the music films

Which way is the beach? A scene from "Fort Tilden,"

Which way is the beach? A scene from “Fort Tilden,” screening at the BU Cinemathèque this week.

Fort Tilden
November 21, 7:00 p.m.
BU Cinemathèque, COM, 640 Commonwealth Ave., Room 101
Free and open to the public.

Sarah-Violet Bliss presents her respected film, which was an audience winner at several festivals including April’s Boston Independent Film Festival. It is a quirky tale of friendship between two young Brooklyn women as they make their way to the obscure Long Island beach called Fort Tilden. It features two engaging performances by young actors Clare McNultyand and Sarah-Violet Bliss.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
November 22, 8:00 p.m.
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA

The Brattle presents great films of 1939: Gone With the Wind at 12:30 and Gunga Din at 5:30 and Hunchback with Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Cedric Hardwicke at 8:00. Choose your favorite – they are all brilliant. My choice is the finest version ever made of Victor Hugo’s great novel. It features a horrific and heartbreaking performance by the incomparable Laughton. This is one of Hollywood’s great achievements. Not to be missed.

— Tim Jackson


Thomas Bernhard -- a rate chance to see the staged reading of a play by a grouch of genius.

Thomas Bernhard — a rare chance, via Austrian Stage, to see the staged reading of a play by a grouch of genius.

The World Fixer by Thomas Bernhard. Translated by Josef K. Glowa, Donald McManus, and Susan Hurley-Glowa. Directed by Guy Ben-Ahron. Presented by Austrian Stage at the Goethe Institut Boston, Boston, MA, November 17 at 8 p.m. Free. (If you miss the reading here, the production will be in New York City at the Austrian Cultural Forum NY on Dec 12 at 7 p.m. Free.)

This staged reading proves that all good things come to those willing (or is that cursed?) to wait. Earlier this season I finally saw, via a powerful Boston University student production, a play by John Arden, one of the leading English playwrights of the ’60s. It was his radio script The Bagman: the piece’s thorny poetry and moral energy confirmed my belief in his enduring value. (Encouraged by this staging, I am praying a company will come along with the courage to present one of the greatest anti-war plays of the 20th century — Arden’s Serjeant Musgrave’s Dance, An Un-historical Parable.)

Now a script by another one of my favorites, cantankerous Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989), makes an appearance. I have written that for some reason his dramas have been banned in Boston. They are regularly produced in Europe and Canada — but not in this area.

Granted, Bernhard poses a number of thorny problems for performers and audiences. A brilliant, misanthropic (in the Swiftian tradition) and resolutely difficult writer, Bernhard waged war against what he saw as the corrupt, anti-Semitic ethos of postwar Austrian society. For him, his countrymen never accepted their Nazi past, and he was determined to rub their noses in their cowardice. Yet, at his best, Bernhard is a satirist who recognized that he was part of the universal insanity as well. Only the ferocious energy of his language sets him and his semi-truth-speaking ranters apart from the universal folly. In The World Fixer his megalomaniacal target is a freely imagined stand-in for philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Thanks to director Guy Ben-Aharon and to performers Jeremiah Kissel and Nancy Carroll for tackling this play by a major dramatist.

Chosen Child by Monica Bauer. Directed by Megan Schy Gleeson. At the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston, MA, though November 22.

The plot sounds like a soap opera on steroids: “Three generations of mothers and memories combine to change the fate of a schizophrenic man at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, as he waits for a sister he hardly knows, to fulfill an agreement that was never made. Adoption, desertion, and forgiveness— all this makes up a family.” But the cast is first-rate—Margaret Ann Brady, Lee Mikeska Gardner, Melissa Jesser, Lewis D. Wheeler, and Debra Wise.

Tom Patterson, Lee Sellers, Michael Bakkensen (seated), and Amelia Pedlow in Elizabeth Egloff's provocative medical thriller ETHER DOME directed by Michael Wilson, playing Oct. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Photo: Paul Marotta

Tom Patterson, Lee Sellers, Michael Bakkensen (seated), and Amelia Pedlow in the Huntington Theatre Company production of “Ether Dome.” Photo: Paul Marotta.

Ether Dome by Elizabeth Egloff. Directed by Michael Wilson. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company (produced in association with Alley Theatre, Hartford Stage, and La Jolla Playhouse) in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, through November 23.

Director Michael Wilson suggests that this script is anything but a dry historical study about “America’s greatest medical discovery—anesthesia.” For him, the play—set in Boston’s own Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846—”holds an unflinching mirror up to our ambitious American character and the ways in which class, greed, and prejudice form a twisted path to innovation.” Arts Fuse review

Happy Days, by Samuel Beckett. Directed by Andrei Belgrader.
November 18 through 23
Presented by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company in the Carling-Sorenson Theater, Babson College, Wellesley, MA

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Artistic director Steven Maler sums it up: Over fifty years since it premiered, “the play resonates just as forcefully with audiences and performers as the day it was written, and CSC has many reasons to be proud of this extraordinary production. Brooke Adams and Tony Shalhoub are the perfect duo to take on the delicate balance of humor and pathos, and Andrei Belgrader, known locally for his brilliant work with the American Repertory Theater, remains one of the most acclaimed interpreters of Beckett’s work.”

Sane New World, written and performed by Ruby Wax
November 18 through 23
Oberon, Cambridge, MA

“Hugely popular comedian, bestselling writer, and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax shares her candid, comedy-spiked manual on how to survive the 21st century in this one-woman show inspired by her bestselling #1 book.” Do you have to be brave to be sane? — paging Aldous Huxley.

Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw. Staged by the SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, through November 29.

The New England premiere of a comedy in which Jews behave badly. The plot sounds like a variation on Arthur Miller’s The Price: “two cousins wage war over a coveted family heirloom after the death of their beloved grandfather.” See Arts Fuse review

Marianna Bassham's in the midst of target practice in the Gamm Theatre production of "Hedda Gabler"

Marianna Bassham’s Hedda Gabler is enjoying a little target practice in the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre production of “Hedda Gabler.” Photo: Peter Goldberg.

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen. Adapted and directed by Tony Estrella. Staged by the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, through November 30.

We had Ibsen lite with the recent production of Arthur Miller’s sledgehammer-the-message-home adaptation of An Enemy of the People at the Barrington Stage. Let’s hope the Feinstein-Gamm production gives us the real complicated thing. From what I have seen, Marianna Bassham has what it takes to play Hedda, a volatile combination of steel, self-destruction, and idealism. See Arts Fuse review

The Trip to Bountiful by Horton Foote. Directed by Michael Wilson. Presented by ArtsEmerson and Jonathan Reinis Productions in association with Center Theatre Group. At the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre, November 20 through December 7.

“Cicely Tyson reprises her Tony Award-winning performance as the feisty and funny Carrie Watts in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Horton Foote’s beloved American classic, a story of intergenerational family dynamics.” The first-rate cast includes Blair Underwood and Vanessa Williams.

War by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. At the Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, November 21 through December 13.

The world premiere production of a script commissioned by the Yale Repertory Theatre. The drama “is a wildly provocative, bracingly funny, and all-too-human portrait of a family navigating the landmines of the past as they try to broker peace with each other—and themselves—in the present.” Jacobs-Jenkins’s dramas An Octoroon and Appropriate were honored together with the 2014 OBIE Award for Best New American Play.

A scene from PigPen Theatre Company's "The Old Man

A scene from PigPen Theatre Company’s “The Old Man and the Old Moon.” Coming to Arts Emerson this week.

The Old Man and the Old Moon, directed by Stuart Carden. Written and staged by the PigPen Theatre Co. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Paramount Center MainStage, Boston, MA, November 19 through 23.

“The endlessly imaginative PigPen Theatre Co. comes to Boston with a luminously lo-fi spectacle that elevates traditional storytelling to high art. Their fantastical, song-filled tale takes us to the end of the world when an old man abandons his duty of filling the moon with liquid light to search for his missing wife.”

Identity Crisis by Peter Snoad. Directed by Jackie Davis. Staged at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Dudley Square, Boston, MA, November 21 through December 7.

Hibernian Hall’s visiting playwright has penned what sounds like a very provocative comedy. The play “is a social satire about family and friendship, love and marriage, and racial categories versus personal integrity. The award-winning script revolves around a phenomenon no one wants to talk about: White people are turning Black.”

Phèdre by Jean Racine. Translation by Ted Hughes. Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara
November 19 through December 7
First Church In Boston, Back Bay Boston, MA

“A pedigree filled with philandering gods and bloodthirsty warriors does not make for domestic tranquility, as evidenced in this smoldering tale of erotic obsession and betrayal. Phèdre Paula Plum), daughter of King Minos, and second wife to Theseus (Robert Walsh), falls hard for her stepson, Hippolytus, after her husband’s six-month absence appears to becoming more of a permanent vacation.” Hughes’s translation has garnered plenty of critical praise. The Guardian on a National Theatre production: “Hughes’s version, first heard in Jonathan Kent’s 1998 West End production, replaces Racine’s alexandrines with a language that is characteristically sinewy, abrasive, and even animalistic. Phèdre, guilt-ridden over her passion for her stepson Hippolytus, cries: ‘Venus has fastened on me like a tiger.’ Later, she declares: ‘I stink of incest and deceit.'”

Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets. Directed by Melia Bensussen.
Through December 7
Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Boston University Theatre, Boston, MA

Odets, where is thy sting? Does this ’30s warhorse still feel, according to a blurb on the HTC web site, as if it could have been written yesterday? Arts Fuse review

— Bill Marx


The exciting Mexican-born jazz singer Magos Herrera teams up with Spanish guitarist, composer, and producer Javier Limón on their new album, Dawn

Mexican-born jazz singer Magos Herrera teams up with Spanish guitarist, composer, and producer Javier Limón come to Cambridge this week.

Pat Metheny Unity Group
November 16, 7 p.m.
Hanover Theater, Worcester, MA.

Pat Metheny’s mighty Unity Group (with saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi) sold out Boston’s Wilbur Theatre last March following the release of their epic Kin (←->). They return to play Worcester’s jewel box Hanover Theatre.

Mili Bermejo/Dan Greenspan Double Duos
November 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

The soulful, Boston-based Mexican jazz singer Mili Bermejo plays with her husband, bassist Dan Greenspan; Greenspan plays with pianist Vardan Ovsepian. (The previously announced second singer, Tatiana Parra, has cancelled.)

Magos Herrera & Javier Limón
November 19, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The exciting Mexican-born jazz singer Magos Herrera teams up with Spanish guitarist, composer, and producer Javier Limón on their new album, Dawn. Expect them to cover American and Latin-American jazz standards, as well as originals, in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

René Marie
November 19, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Singer René Marie’s latest album is I Wanna Be Evil: With Love to Eartha Kitt. She pays tribute without subverting her own charismatic personal style and formidable technique. This is homage, not mimicry.

Singer Amanda Carr will in

Singer Amanda Carr will sing with saxophonist Myanna and the Ken Clark Organ Trio this week in Boston.

Amanda Carr
November 20, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

No less an authority than Nat Hentoff has called Amanda Carr “a true jazz singer in a time of wannabes.” I’m not sure which wannabes Nat was referring to, but I’ll second the motion on that first part. Carr comes to Scullers with saxophonist Myanna and the Ken Clark Organ Trio.

Bill Charlap
November 21, 8 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

No pianist gets to the heart of a Great American Songbook standard with the eloquence of Bill Charlap. He comes to Scullers with his longstanding, superb trio mates, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington.

Makanda Project
November 22, 7 p.m.
Dudley Branch Library, Boston, MA.

This ensemble, dedicated to extending the legacy of the late, great Boson reed player and composer Makanda Ken McIntyre, is here joined by a vocal section (Diane Richardson, Nedelka Prescott, and Liz Tobias) as well as vocalists from the Mssng Lnks artists-in-training program. They’ll be backed by the usual impressive line-up: saxophonists Kurtis Rivers, Arni Cheatham, Sean Berry, and Charlie Kohlhase, trumpeters Jerry Sabatini and Ku-umba Frank Lacy (instead of Lacy’s usual trombone), trombonists Bill Lowe and Alfred Patterson, drummer Yoron Israel, bassist John Lockwood, and Warren Smith on vibes. John Kordalewski is the pianist, arranger, and main mover on the project. And it’s free.

Juanito Pascual
November 22, 7:30 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist Pascual, always intent on expanding his genre, brings his New Flamenco Trio — with bassist Brad Barrett and the phenomenal drummer/percussionist Tupac Mantilla — to the Regattabar for two shows.

Pianist Marc Copleland

Marc Copland — an unsung piano hero comes to Cambridge’s Lily Pad.

Marc Copland
November 22, 5 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist Copland — who last came to town in a duo performance with Dave Liebman — does a solo outing tonight at the Lily Pad. Copland — whose trio mates have included Drew Gress, Bill Stewart, Gary Peacock, and Paul Motian — is an undersung piano hero, equal parts lyrical introspection and kinetic energy.

Matt Glaser Trio
November 23, 8 p.m.
Green Room, Somerville, MA.

Violinist Matt Glaser — director of Berklee’s American Roots program, a Ken Burns’s Jazz talking head, and all-around irrepressible enthusiast — fronts a trio with the distinguished jazz guitarist John Wheatley and bassist Brittany Karlson.

— Jon Garelick


Tessa Pattern Takes a Picture
November 17
Bartos Theatre, MIT
Cambridge, MA

Kelly Nipper, member of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, worked with dancer Marissa Ruazol and Laban movement analyst Ed Groff to create what may be one of the edgiest dance events this fall. Originally commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, Tessa Pattern Takes a Picture is a response to The Edge of the Alphabet, a composition of letters pressed to pages and printed in 1962.

November 21-22
Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston, MA

Ronald K. Brown’s choreography is moving in both senses of the verb: full of rich West African language and infused with a deeply felt spirituality. For its return to Boston, the company presents The Subtle One (with music by NEC jazz master Jason Moran), Torch a work of remembrance to a woman who lost a battle with cancer but never lost her enthusiasm and self-determination, and excerpts from the evening-long One Shot based on the work African American photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris. I’ll be giving preshow talks half an hour before each performance.


Crabtree & Carabetta Collective in action.

Crabtree & Carabetta Collective
November 21-22
Dance Complex
Cambridge, MA

Longtime collaborators Brian Crabtree and Audra Carbetta explore the power of gesture and touch in We Round This Corner Together, in works that are often as interesting for their silences as for their forward momentum.

Urbanity Dance & A Far Cry
November 21
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory
Boston, MA

Ubanity Dance joins the national celebration of the half-century mark for composer Terry Riley’s In C in a program shared with the adventurous Boston music ensemble A Far Cry, who will also perform works by Mieczysław Weinberg and Dimitri Shostakovich.

Boston Bhangra Competition
November 22
Orpheum Theatre
Boston, MA

Twelve expert American teams who excel in the lively folk dance of Punjab — a style its promoters describe as “a fusion of hip hop and cheerleading with a cultural twist” — compete for the Boston Bhangra title alongside popular artists visiting from the UK, Benny Dhaliwal and MC Jas Johal.

Tania Pérez-Salas Compañia de Danza
November 22-23
Citi Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA

The vivid Mexican modern dance company Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza makes its Boston debut under the auspices of the Celebrity Series in a program that includes Waters of Forgetfulness, a piece on that life-giving fluid, inspired by Ivan Illich’s essay “H2O.”

Paris Opera Ballet in Don Quixote
November 23 at 10:00 a.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre,Brookline, MA

Rudolf Nureyev’s rechoreographed Don Quixote retains the outlines of Cervantes’ plot, but mostly focuses on two young lovers, Basilio and Kitri, in this taped broadcast danced by Karl Paquette and Dorothée Gilbert.

and further afield…

Daniel Roberts of EVIDENCE.

Daniel Roberts of EVIDENCE. The group will be performing in Boston this week.

Global Rhythms: Plaiurile Dornelor Ensemble
November 16
The Dance Hall
Kittery, Maine

Award winnning folk dancers and musicians from Vatra Dornei, Romania present 6 suites of folk dances from Tara Dornelor, Bukovina, Moldova, Muntenia and Banat and introduce the unique folk traditions for the winter holidays from Bukovina.

Martha Graham Dance Company
Nov 18
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall
Amherst, MA
November 21
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Burlington, Vermont

Martha Graham’s genre-creating choreography is back on tour, introducing a new generation to the classics based on Greek myths and Americana themes that changed the face of dancing. During this tour, the repertoire also includes a new work that nods to Graham’s beloved themes, Echo by choreographer Andonis Foniadakis, based on the myth of Narcissus.

— Debra Cash

Visual Arts

Brian Burkhardt, Three tooled baseballs on pyramid (detail), 2014. Three hand tooled leather baseballs, custom hardwood pedestal. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Brian Burkhardt, Three hand-tooled leather baseballs, custom hardwood pedestal (2014). Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts’ annual Art Sale
November 20–23
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 230 The Fenway Boston, MA

For the arts lover on your Xmas list. “The SMFA Art Sale is one of Boston’s most anticipated events, showcasing an impressive range of SMFA’s emerging and established artists—from students and alumni to faculty and affiliated artists. Visitors can explore and shop the eclectic mix of works on a changing rotation, which are priced by the artists and sold to benefit SMFA student scholarships. The Sale kicks off with an opening celebration November 20, 5–8 p.m., which will feature music and cash bar.”

— Bill Marx

World and Roots Music

Chuck Prophet
Tue, Nov. 18
Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA

Long one of roots-rock’s A-listers, Prophet’s guitar and songwriter talents have been utilized by Kelly Willis, Alejandro Escovedo, and Lucinda Williams. Unlike many sidemen, however, he’s a force of nature when he leads a band. His current group, which includes wife and keyboardist Stephanie Finch, present an ode to the transcendence of rock.

Susan Cattaneo
Tue, Nov. 18
Atwood’s Tavern, Boston, MA

A fine crafter of modern country lyrics, Cattaneo lives in Boston, not Nashville, so she can teach songwriting at Berklee. She’s released several albums of her thoughtful and clever tunes.

David Grier, Michael Barnett & Dominick Leslie
Wed, Nov. 19
Davis Square Theater, Somerville, MA

aAn unusual gathering of three progressive bluegrass virtuosos that combines the talent of guitarist Grier, mandolinist Leslie, and fiddler Barnett, a local hero who toured with David Grisman and just released his own album, One Song Romance.

Lucinda Williams
Wed, Nov. 19
Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA

While her records have always been gems, in concert Williams is anything but consistent. Every longtime fan of hers can probably recall an on-stage meltdown, usually caused by a toxic combination of booze and nerves. So I’m happy to say that her show in Lowell earlier this year found her at the top of her game, with both moving solo numbers and a geared-up rock band led by new guitarist Stuart Mathis. She’s touring behind her self-released double-album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone.

Journeys in Sound Anniversary Show
Sat, Nov. 22
Arts at the Armory, Somerville, MA

The genre-defying Journeys in Sound series garnered so many performers for its anniversary show that it became into a two-part event. It concludes tonight with Vessela Stoyanova’s Balkan Project, the hot gypsy jazz of the Rhythm Future Quartet and the local debut of Bivolița, a chamber klezmer trio whose sound harkens back to the Eastern European string ensembles that performed the Jewish music before it was influenced by American jazz.


DakhaBrakha from the Ukraine — the trance quartet will perform in Cambridge this week.

Sat, Nov. 22
First Parish Unitarian Church, Cambridge, MA

When this trance quartet from Ukraine came to town a year ago, I kept looking around for the electronic samplers or gadgets — I figured they had to be using gizmos to produce such an other-worldly sound. But there were none to be found. Everything was coming straight from their voices and acoustic instruments.

— Noah Schaffer

Classical Music

American Contemporary Music Ensemble
Presented by the Boston Conservatory
November 19, 8 p.m.
Seully Hall, Boston

ACME brings a wide-ranging program of contemporary American music to the first concert of the Boston Conservatory’s annual New Music Festival. Music by Pulitzer Prize winners Caroline Shaw and John Luther Adams, plus pieces by Marti Epstein, Astor Piazzolla, “and more,” are on the docket. Admission is free.

Yo-Yo Ma plays Prokofiev
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
November 20-22, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston

Nelsons’ final November program is, arguably, the most enticing of his inaugural season. Ma plays Prokofiev’s seldom-heard Symphony-Concerto. Nelsons directs the premiere of Eric Esenvalds’ Lakes Awake at Dawn. The orchestra resurrects John Harbison’s witty Tanglewood commission, “Koussevitzky said…,” and the evening closes with Rachmaninoff’s The Bells. Perhaps best of all, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, generally underused this season, gets a well-deserved evening on which to shine.

Clair Chaise in 2010

Flutist Claire Chase on a New York stage in 2010 — she performs in Boston this week.

Claire Chase in Recital
Presented by the Boston Conservatory
November 20, 8 p.m.
Seully Hall, Boston, MA
Admission is free.

MacArthur Fellow Chase’s residency at the Boston Conservatory culminates in a recital of pieces for flute and electronics. Works by Edgard Varese, Marcos Balter, Diaz de Leon, Felipe Lara, and Du Yun are on the program, which is part of the Conservatory’s New Music Festival.

Focusing on the Abstract
Presented by Boston Musica Viva
November 22, 8 p.m.
Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA

BMV’s season continues with a world premiere by Richard and Deborah Cornell, Pierre Jalbert and Peter Child, and concludes with Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs, sung by Krista River.

Dominick Argento Double-bill
Presented by Odyssey Opera
November 22 (8 p.m.) and 23 (3 p.m.)
Modern Theater, Boston, MA

What has been a tremendous year for Odyssey Opera continues with Dominick Argento’s A Water Bird Talk and Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night. Both operas will be fully staged at Suffolk University’s Modern Theater. Aaron Engbreth is featured as the Gentleman Lecturer in the former while Heather Buck sings Aurelia Havisham in the latter.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Simon Bolivar

Courtesy of the Celebrity Series, the Simón Bolívar String Quartet comes to Cambridge for two nights.

New American Trios
Presented by Collage New Music
November 16, 8 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Cambridge, MA

CNM presents the Calyx Trio in a program of music for piano trio by living (!) American composers. Augusta Read Thomas, Lansing McLoskey, and Richard Festinger are on the program, as are a pair of local premieres of new pieces by Amy Beth Kirsten and Derek Bermel.

New England Conservatory Faculty Artist Recital
Sunday, November 16 at 8:00 pm
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Cellist Laurence Lesser and pianist Bernadene Blaha perform 
Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style
; Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 2 in D-Major, Op. 58
; Brahms’s Sonata No. 1 in E-minor, Op. 38

Boston Conservatory — String Masters Series
Sunday, November 16 at 8:00 p.m.
Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall, Boston, MA

The recital features cellist Andrew Mark and pianist Max Levinson playing Martinu’s Variations on a Slovakian Theme; Beethoven’s Sonata in C Major, op. 102, No. 1; John Harbison’s Suite for Solo Cello, and Strauss’s Sonata in F Major, op. 6.

Simón Bolívar String Quartet
Tuesday, November 18 and Wednesday, November 19 at 8 p.m.
Presented by the Celebrity Series at Pickman Hall, Longy School of Music, 27 Garden St., Cambridge, MA

The program includes Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13; Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 1
; Brahm’s 
String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, no. 1.

1964 with Urbanity Dance
Friday, November 21
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

“Across the country, musicians are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Terry Riley’s landmark In C, and we’re putting our own spin on the festivities. Following our blockbuster collaboration last season, A Far Cry invites Urbanity Dance to return in a semi-improvised In C, and explores two additional great works (Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphony #7 and Dimitri Shostakovich’s Symphony for Strings), both contemporaries of In C, from behind the Iron Curtain.

Boston Camerata
Friday, November 21 and 23
Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston, MA

A program (The Daniel: A Medieval Masterpiece Revisited) that features “the prophecies, tribulations, and triumph of the young Biblical hero Daniel, retold in music from medieval Beauvais. This is new production conceived by Boston Camerata Artistic Director Anne Azéma. Featuring tenor Jordan Pitts as Daniel.

Roomful of Teeth

Roomful of Teeth come to MIT this week.

Roomful of Teeth
Friday, November 21
MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, 48 Mass. Ave, Cambridge, MA

MIT Music Department presents the Grammy award-winning group, which will perform Elena Ruehr’s a one-act opera Cassandra in the Temples as well as works by Christine Southworth and Evan Ziporyn.

— Susan Miron


Johnny Marr
November 16
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

The former Smiths guitarist Johnny “Fuckin” Marr has a new solo album out, Playland. In addition, the Smiths have recently (read: “finally”) been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has led to all kinds of questions, such as, “If they get in, will they show up?” “If they show up, will they reunite and perform?!?!” Those questions are perhaps best left for another day though. In the meantime, we have the legend, in the flesh, in Boston. That’s enough.

London Grammar
November 17
House of Blues, Boston, MA

Back in April, British trio London Grammar were playing at the Paradise. A little more than six months later they’ve already made the jump to the larger House of Blues, which is a good sign for them and their electro pop.

Randy Newman
November 19
Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA

If you only know him for his (admittedly pretty great) Disney songs, or his (admittedly pretty great) misunderstood song “Short People,” you might not realize that Newman is one of the greatest songwriters of his, or any, generation. If you doubt this, give the classic “Louisiana 1927” a listen. Keep the tissues close.

(Film Screening) Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
November 19
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA

Pulp are not nearly as well known in the States as they are in their native Britain, but even here, if you peruse “best of” lists for the ‘90s, and certainly “best of” lists of the Britpop era, you will find the band and their defining, brilliant, song “Common People.” They’re more than just this one song though, as this documentary, with its mix of concert footage and interviews with everyday (okay, “common”) people from the group’s native Sheffield, sets out to illustrate.

Daniel Lanois
November 22
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

Lanois is best known as a producer for the likes of U2, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, but he also makes his own music. Last month, he released the ambient album Flesh and Machine. According to a press release available on his website, he’ll be performing the record completely live, samples, dubs, processing, and all, as part of a trio. That’s worth checking out for the feat’s degree of difficulty alone.

Greg Trooper
November 23
Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA

There are few singer-songwriters I love more than Greg Trooper. His songs have been covered by Steve Earle and Billy Bragg among others, but Trooper is his own best interpreter. While “Little Sister” (covered by Earle) is probably his greatest composition, my favorite has to be “So French.” It’s a funny song, and people always laugh when he performs it, but the tune is no joke. It is one of the best artistic representations of the workings of the male mind that you’re ever likely to hear, read, or see. The insecurity, the bravado, the moodiness, the humor…it’s all there.

And when Trooper isn’t making his audience laugh with “So French,” he’s making them cry with the beautiful “Everywhere,” “Ireland,” and “Biologically Blue.” Oh, and then there’s “Muhammad Ali (Meaning of Christmas)”…and “This I Do”…and “Don’t Let It Go to Waste”…and “Time For Love”…and…a hell, all of them. Trooper is the greatest. Note that this show starts at 4 p.m., which is unfortunate because it coincides with the end of the Patriots/Lions game. Hopefully the Pats will blow Detroit out early so folks can get down to Atwood’s Tavern.

Julian Casablancas + the Voidz
November 26
House of Blues, Boston, MA

It’s been a while since the Strokes have played Boston, but at least we get the band’s frontman and his backing band (the Voidz) coming to town this month. The group has a new album out — Tyranny. It’s an eclectic record for sure, at times even embracing the political. Probably not the direction Casablancas’s main band will be heading in the future, but hey, this is exactly what side projects are supposed to be for.

Upcoming and On Sale…

Keep Boston Safe (Benefit for Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts) (12/10/2014, Brighton Music Hall); Future Islands (1/7/2015, Royale); The Vaselines (1/17/2015, Brighton Music Hall); Gang of Four (3/6/2014, Paradise Rock Club); Belle and Sebastian (3/30/2015, House of Blues); The Who (5/24/2015, Mohegan Sun Arena); The Who (10/29/2015, TD Garden)

— Adam Ellsworth

Author Events


Mitchell Zukoff
13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi
November 17 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

Ever have a right-winger in your family who can’t stop fuming over how President Obama bungled Benghazi? Author Zukoff comes to Brookline to tell the story of the six American security operators whose perspectives have been drowned out by the political obfuscation generated by the event. It might make those painful turkey-day political debates a bit easier to sit through.

Franz Wright, Mary Buchinger, George Kalogeris
November 19 at 7 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Cambridge MA

Three esteemed local poets will be reading from their work, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Franz Wright (God’s Silence, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard), Mary Buchinger (Aerialist, Roomful of Sparrows), and Suffolk University’s George Kalogeris (Dialogos, Camus: Carnets).

Shelly Oria and Joanna Rakoff
New York 1: Tel Aviv 0 and My Salinger Year
November 19 at 7 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre

Newtonville Books will be showcasing two books concerned with duality. Oria’s much-praised new collection of short stories juxtaposes the experiences of living in two distinct locales- New York and Israel. Rakoff’s novel concerns the life of a fledgling New Yorker staff writer who begins to personally reply to J.D. Salinger’s voluminous, impassioned fan mail, even though she is as little qualified as anyone to speak on behalf of the reclusive author.

Hilton Als
In conversation with Jamaica Kincaid
White Girls
Co-Sponsored by The Harvard Advocate and Harvard Square Books
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge MA
November 20 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30)
$5 tickets

New Yorker writer Als will come to the Brattle Theatre to discuss his new essay collection with the esteemed author and essayist Jamaica Kincaid. Als’s distinctive and persuasive literary voice interrogates topics such as race, gender, and sexuality in what many in the literary world are calling one of the best books of the year.

Thomas Forrest Kelly
Capturing Music: The Story of Notation
November 20 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

One of the things we take for granted living in the 21st Century is the fact that music is universally available. Author and professor Thomas Kelly will discuss the lost art of musical notation, leading a journey through the Medieval era up through the present day, explaining along the way how we came to modern notions of rhythm, melody and pitch.


Daniel Shumski
Will it Waffle?
November 20th at 5 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

Daniel Shumski, the creator of waffelizer.com, has written the world’s definitive waffle-iron cookbook. The eponymous question is applied to such items as hash browns, meatballs, falafel, crab cakes, and kale. The answer will be offered in the form of free samples, so the proof will be in the (waffle) pudding.

Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo
This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Problems
November 22 at 7 p.m.
Brookline Booksmith, Coolidge Corner MA

The co-founders of the GLBT awareness group Everyone is Gay will discus the issues raised by their first book. The volume tackles its admirable mission with wit and wisdom: giving parents practical, straightforward advice on how to talk to and better parent their GLBTQ child.

— Matt Hanson

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