Coming Attractions: February 14 through 27– What Will Light Your Fire

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

By The Arts Fuse Staff


Japanese Festival
Through February 28
Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA

The MFA presents a new festival of recent films from Japan. The films with individual links are listed below. A complete overview of the schedule is here.

Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High
February 21, 5:30 p.m.

Jellyfish Eyes
February 25, 11 a.m.

February 15, 8 p.m.

Blade of the Immortal
February 18, 3 p.m.

Over the Fence
February 16, 3:30 p.m.
February 28, 8 p.m.

Oh Lucy!
February 16, 8 p.m.

Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival
Through February 19
Somerville Theater, Somerville, MA

An eleven-day event, this is the 43rd anniversary of the oldest genre fest in America. There are features, shorts, webisodes, workshops, parties ,and an occasional Hollywood film. The Boston Sci-Fi fest emphasizes emerging directors from around the globe. It concludes with an eyeball challenging marathon, a 24-hour screening of films that runs from noon on Sunday through noon on Presidents Day.

The Rehearsal
February 16 at 7 p.m.
BU Cinemateque at 640 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA

Gerald Peary’s B.U series presents Alison Maclean, director of the indie cult feature, Jesus’s Son, and many TV episodes (Sex and the City). For 2015’s The Rehearsal (adapted from Eleanor Catton’s novel), Maclean returned to her native New Zealand for a disquieting dramatic tale. The film is about acting students and their teachers, but the blurs the lines between performance and reality: for actors, life and performance are a bit of a blur. Free of charge and open to all.

A scene from “Revolting Rhymes” in the Oscar Shorts Program.

Oscar Nominated Short Films

The program plays on February 16 (check with the movie house) at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.
Also at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, February 17 through March 11

The ICA will also run several Oscar Shorts screenings with a Documentary Shorts screening on March 3 at 1 and 3 p.m. ICA Shorts Schedule

The Coolidge Corner Theatre presents the Oscar nominees in two separate programs:

Animated Shorts
Included are Dear Basketball (Kobe Bryant and animator Glen Keane, 5 minutes); Garden Party (France, 7 Minutes); Lou (5 minutes); Negative Space (France, 6 minutes) Revolting Rhymes (Roald Dahl’s retellings of classic fairy tales, UK, 29 minutes) Program also includes three additional films Lost Property Office, Weeds, and Achoo.

Live Action Shorts

Dekalb Elementary (USA, 20 minutes); My Nephew Emmett (USA, 20 minutes): The Eleven O’Clock (Australia, 13 minute); The Silent Child (UK, 20 minutes); Watu Wote/ All of Us (Germany & Kenya, 23 minutes).

Restored Classics
February 22-25
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA

The museum presents restorations of two significant films by landmark directors. Both movies will be screened on 4K DCP (aka digital version of a 35mm film print).

Jean Renoir’s The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)

“Jean Renoir’s film — a frank and hearty drama that culminates in the crime of the title, an act of revolutionary violence by workers against a predatory boss — is both a remarkable forerunner of political changes to come and a sign of stiffening battle lines.” (Richard Brody)

Vittorio de Sica’s Il Boom (1963)

Imagine Buster Keaton crossed with David Lynch, with a bit of Billy Wilder satire tossed into the mix, and you’ll have a rough idea of the wild and crazy tightrope 1963’s absurdist Il Boom manages to walk. A comic yet corrosive dissection of how soulless a consumption-obsessed society can become. It is a film out of its time, more suited to today, where acid views of human nature and surreal plots are thick on the land, though not usually combined with the panache they’re joined with here. (Kenneth Turan)

The Siege of the Alcazar
February 23 at 8 p.m.
The Somerville Theatre (micro cinema), 55 Davis Square Somerville, MA

Channel Zero presents this rare example of Italian Fascist film propaganda based on a true story: the 70-day defense of the Alcazar Fortress in Toledo Spain by Fascist Troops at the Outset of the Spanish Civil War. Blatant War Propaganda in an early Neorealist Style designed to Hype Fascist Italy on its way to World Conquest!

The Boston Society of Film Critics’ Reception and Awards Program
February 25 with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and awards at 6:30 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA

The BSFC celebrates the local winners of their 2017 awards. There will be a reception and award ceremony for acclaimed silent film accompanists Martin Marks and Robert Humphreville as well as members of the AgX Film Collective. This will be followed by a screening of Get Out with a special recorded introduction from director Jordan Peele and actor Daniel Kaluuya! The BSFC awarded the film both their David Brudnoy Award for Best New Filmmaker and Best Actor to Daniel Kaluuya. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to GLAD in memory of the late David Pendleton.

House In The Fields
February 26 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA

The thousand-year history of the Amazigh in Morocco has been, for the most part, recounted, preserved and transmitted by bards and storytellers in oral form among Tamazight speaking pastoral communities. House in the Fields continues this tradition of transmission, in an audiovisual form, in an attempt to faithfully document and present a portrait of a village and community that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years despite being confronted with the rapidly changing sociopolitical realities of the country at large.

— Tim Jackson


Boston Ballet provides a sneak peek of its upcoming “Parts In Suite.”

February 15 & 16 at 7:30 p.m.
19 Clarendon Street, Boston, MA

Viewers interested in Boston Ballet’s Parts In Suite concert (which will be performed March 9 through April 7 at the Boston Opera House) are invited to attend a sneak peek this week. This intimate preview features the works of William Forsythe, Justin Peck, and Jorma Elo, as well as informal talks with the company.

February 17 at 5 p.m.
The Strand Theatre
Boston, MA

Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts presents an evening of dance in honor of Black History Month. The program aims to promote remembrance of those who withstood civil injustices while paving the way for future generations.

Stolen Hearts
February 23-March 18
The Sanctuary Theatre
Cambridge, MA

In the stunning Sanctuary Theatre the José Mateo Ballet Theatre proffers an homage to Valentine’s Day with Stolen Hearts. The evening features three original Mateo ballets. Enjoy wine and beer while witnessing Mateo’s “Time Beyond Time” (2005), “Released” (2014), and “Affairs” (2017) within the stunning Sanctuary Theatre.

South Asian Showdown
February 24 at 6 p.m.
John Hancock Hall
Boston, MA

Head to the John Hancock Hall to enjoy this year’s South Asian Showdown. This annual competition features Bollywood versus South Asian Fusion dance teams, giving audiences a riveting sampling of some of India’s most popular dance styles. This year’s Showdown will be hosted by Miss India Teen New England Shreya Patel Ranganarayan and Saatvik Ahluwalia from Boston.

— Merli V. Guerra

Visual Arts

Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today
At the Bridgitt and Bruce Evans Family and West Galleries, Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, through May 20

This contemporary exhibition examines how the internet has generated a profound transformation in the art world, focusing on changes in its production, distribution, and reception.  Technological Influences are displayed across a broad range of work done in a wide variety of mediums, including painting, performance, photography, sculpture, and web-based projects. One piece of note — Judith Barry’s five-channel video installation features a massive minimalist cube that presents a digital composite of a male and female visage that remains impassive, even though it is assaulted  by mysterious onslaughts of gelatinous ooze.

A glimpse of "PlayTime" at Photo: Paige Besse

A glimpse of “PlayTime” at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo: Paige Besse.

At the Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA, through May 6

Brilliantly colored and full of whimsy and noise, this thematic show places playtime in the limelight it so richly deserves. Be prepared to interact with some surprising installations, such as Turner Prize winner Martin Creed’s immersive pink balloon filled room. Others may astonish you, such as Pedro Reye’s “Disarm Mechanized II” in which 6,700 guns confiscated by the Mexican government have been transformed into working musical instruments. The show’s curator (and Arts Fuse Fusical award-winner) Trevor Smith notes that “play is a catalyst for creativity, where we make up the rules and learn how to negotiate and resolve conflict.” He concludes that “play helps us possess a power for change. It’s fundamentally about human empowerment.”

At The Institute of Contemporary ArtBoston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, through December 31

Mutu’s hybrid compositions and wall-based works generate a textural and layered conversation about Feminism, Afrofuturism, displacement, and marginal spaces. Her new commission for the ICA makes use of tough gray humanitarian rescue blankets to form the contours of a world map on the museum’s white wall. As an artist, she looks to courageous icons such as Arundhati Roy and Nina Simone for inspiration. She believes that her calling is vital “because we assume it’s normal for women to earn less, work harder, be tidier, and demand not as much as a man, to me, it’s important to stand behind feminism as an idea.”

Inventur – Art in Germany, 1943-55
At the Special Exhibitions Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, through June 3

Borrowing its name from a 1945 poem by Günter Eich, “Inventur (inventory) implies not just an artistic stocktaking, but a physical and moral one as well – the reassurance of one’s own existence as reflected in the stuff of everyday life.” Following World War II, Germany had to reconcile with how it committed grave atrocities. This exhibition showcases the work of fiercely persistent artists who remained unwavering in their dedication to their practice. Their insistence in continuing to further the discourse of modern art presents viewers with a stark portrayal of stubbornness.

Puppets: World on a String
February 17 through June 3
Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT

Storytelling, performance, and visual arts magically combine in this captivating exhibition, which promises to immerse its viewers into fantastical realms “where animals speak, shadows come alive, and politicians face their harshest critics.” On show there will be a plethora of multimedia works by local and national artists that celebrate and push the boundaries of this treasured, age old art form. Masterfully sculptured figurines and set designs span from 19th century marionettes to contemporary digital installations and mediate between worlds real and imagined.

The Paston Treasure: Microcosm of the Known World
February 15 through May 22
Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT

This curious exhibition examines the backstory of a puzzling masterpiece, the seventeenth century Dutch painting The Paston Treasure (1663). The work defies categorization, gathering together different aspects of several genres: still life, portraiture, animal painting, and allegory. On display are 140 different objects from the widely disbursed collection of the wealthy estate created by the Pastons, a landowning family of Norfolk. Among the objects will be five treasures from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that appear in The Paston Treasure painting: a pair of silver-gilt flagons, a Strombus shell cup, two unique nautilus cups, and a perfume flask with a mother of pearl body.

The Beast: Herd Mentality
February 15 through March 30
30 Montserrat Gallery, 23 Essex Street, Beverly, MA

Students and local contractors join forces, with Chicago based artist John Preus, in the construction of a large scale beast whose hollowed out interior will serve the community as a temporary sculpture/ performance pavilion. After the majestic Bull’s unveiling, the gallery will use the space to host a myriad of different events, from concerts  and performances to academic talks, poetry readings, writing sessions, and simple conversations. In a time of social and political division, this monumental work will provide a safe haven for which community members can propose programing as well as use the space for their own organized gatherings.

William Kentridge: Triumphs and Laments
February 15 through April 14
Emerson Urban Arts: Media Art Gallery, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

“Every victory has a [corresponding] defeat; therefore, for every person riding in triumph, there will always be someone following behind with a lament.” – states William Kentridge, an internationally revered South African artist, who lives and works in Johannesburg. His 550-meter-long frieze created on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome depicts a procession of ninety figures; a broad sweep of Italian history stenciled on the walls between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Mazzini. Created via process described as “reverse graffiti,” the work contains portions of the grime that has accumulated on the travertine over the centuries. This exhibit includes the complete set of aquatint etchings and woodcuts used in the frieze, two long maquettes that diagram the processional, a set of monumental stencils, and a video showcasing its opening performance.

– Aimee Cotnoir


Field Guide created by Rude Mechs, inspired by the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Text by Hannah Kenah. Directed by Shawn Sides. At Yale Repertory Theatre 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT, through February 17.

A world premiere commissioned by Yale Rep: “Strap on your snow shoes and join Rude Mechs on a surreal hike through one of the greatest—and longest!—novels ever written: The Brothers Karamazov. A physical meditation on Dostoevsky’s masterpiece,” the show “enlists stand-up comedy, a dancing monk, and some old-school magic to explore faith, meaning, and morality.” (Rude Mechs is an Austin, Texas, based theatre collective that has created a genre-averse slate of about 30 new plays since 1996.)

Babette’s Feast, conceived and developed by Abigail Killeen. Directed by Karin Coonrod. Written by Rose Courtney. Adapted from the short story by Isak Dinesen. Staged by Portland Stage on its MainStage, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, ME, through February 18.

A stage dramatization of the Dinesen tale, which inspired a 1987 Danish film, which won the 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is the “story of how a refugee transforms a closed religious community by sacrificing all she has to throw a lavish dinner party. Through her radical hospitality, this mysterious woman converts her guests’ deeply held notions of scarcity and judgment and opens them up to give and receive abundant grace.”

Bad Dates by Theresa Rebeck. Directed by Jessica Stone. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at the Avenue of the Arts, Huntington Avenue Theatre, Boston, MA, through March 11.

A HTC revival of a one-woman show it produced 15 years ago. This go-around stars Haneefah Wood. “Restaurant manager and shoe connoisseur Haley Walker is finally ready to re-enter the dating world in New York City. But add in the responsibility of raising her 13-year-old daughter, spats with her gang-affiliated co-workers, and Haley’s own superstitions, and it becomes clear that finding Mr. Right may not be so simple. From the privacy of her bedroom, Haley relates a series of hilarious tales while preparing for, and recovering from, one dreadful date after another. Does she have the luck and tenacity to find her perfect match?”

Hype Man: a break beat play by Idris Goodwin. Directed by Shawn LaCount. Staged by Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Theatre, Boston MA, through February 24.

Yet another theatrical attempt to be relevant. “Frontman Pinnacle and his hype man Verb have been making Hip-Hop together since they were kids. Now that they’ve got top-notch beatmaker Peep One in the mix, the group is finally on the verge of making it big—until the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager shakes the trio to its core, and forces them to navigate issues of friendship, race, and privilege.”

An Education in Prudence by Stefan Lanfer. Directed by Pascale Florestal. Staged by the Open Theatre Project at St. John’s Church, 1 Roanoke Avenue, Jamaica Plain, MA, through February 24.

An intriguing world premiere that dramatizes “the first attempt to racially integrate a school in America. Based on true events that occurred in 1833, the play recalls the two dozen African American girls who traveled from across the free states to a new school in a small Connecticut town in hopes of furthering their education. They met insults, assaults, and a new law threatening fines and whippings if they remained. Their teacher, a white Quaker woman, was jailed.” Arts Fuse review

Statements After and Arrest Under the Immorality Act by Athol Fugard. Directed by Jim Petosa. A New Repertory Theatre staging co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance, at the blackbox theater at the Mosesian Center of the Arts, 321 Arsenal St, Watertown, MA, through March 3.

“In apartheid South Africa, where intimate interracial relationships are illegal, a black man and a white woman share more than just their love, baring all in the face of oppression and uncertainty.” Note: “THIS PRODUCTION CONTAINS EXTENSIVE NUDITY THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PERFORMANCE, and makes use of haze and fog effects.” Part of the Statements of Survival series.

Nomad Americana by Kira Rockwell. Directed by Damon Krometis. Staged by Fresh Ink at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, through February 17.

Another in what seems to be an endless series of ‘family’ dramas: “The eccentric Echo family has lived under the roof of one continuously mobile RV for years, but as they prepare for the birth of their newest member, they make temporary roots in a rural Texas town believed to harness great magic. When Bridgette, the oldest daughter, strikes up a romance with a local, motorcycle riding cowboy who shares her affinity for Shakespeare, she awakens a side of herself she never knew and begins to imagine a life outside her family.”

Richard III by William Shakespeare. Directed by Robert Walsh. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Swedenborg Chapel, 50 Quincy Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, through March 11.

The company’s timely exploration of despots moves onto Richard III, one of the theater’s premier overreachers. “The story of a scoundrel’s Machiavellian overthrow of government, filled with deceit, lies, treachery and murder. Richard III is Shakespeare’s most charismatic villain, delighting in every moment of his ruthless homicidal path to absolute power.” Cast includes the veteran Boston actors Paula Plum, Steven Barkhimer, and Jennie Israel.


A goodly number of the cast members of Trinity Rep’s “Into the Breeches!” Left to right: Phyllis Kay as Celeste, Janice Duclos as Winifred, Anne Scurria as Maggie, Meghan Leathers as June and Rachael Warren as Grace. Photo: Mark Turek.

Into the Breeches! by George Brant. Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington St. in Providence, Rhode Island, through February 25.

Another valentine to the Bard and the human spirit, in the mode of Shakespeare in Love, perhaps. “Set in 1942 Providence, the play follows the women of the fictional Oberon Playhouse, who endeavor to continue with their Shakespearean production even though the company’s men (including their director) are fighting overseas in World War II.”

for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange. Directed by Dayenne CB Walters. Staged by Praxis Stage at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street, Boston, MA, February 15 through 26.

A rare Boston-area outing for “a cornerstone of contemporary American theater due to the vibrancy of its language, its powerful sense of urgent determination, and, ultimately, its universal message –delivered by seven women of color who share their stories, and find strength in each other through this sharing and ‘a layin on of hands.'”

A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance, written and performed by Sleeping Weazel. At the Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA, February 15 through 24.

Sleeping Weazel’s Salon-style show, a blend of enchantment, melancholy, humor, and the tragic sublime, will, according to the company, be “one to remember.” And there’s more: warming refreshments will be served.

Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle by Andy Bayiates and Aaron Muñoz. Directed by Nathan Keepers. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre at 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA, through March 11.

“During silent film’s golden age, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s comedic genius outshone even Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as Hollywood’s first million-dollar man. Then after one tragic weekend, he became America’s biggest villain. What really happened to him and Virginia Rappe?”

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, adapted by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by A.Nora Long. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, February 23 through March 25.

“In this joyful romance of gender roles and expectations, Orlando the man wakes up, after a particularly wild night in 17th-century Constantinople, to find himself a woman! She abandons herself to three centuries of navigating love, desire, and the world from an entirely different perspective.”

The White Card by Claudia Rankine. Directed by Diane Paulus. ArtsEmerson presents the American Repertory Theater staging at the Emerson Paramount Center, the Robert J. Orchard Stage, Boston, MA, February 24 through April 1

“At a dinner party thrown by an influential Manhattan couple for an up-and-coming artist, questions arise about what—and who—is actually on display. Claudia Rankine’s 2014 New York Times best-selling book, Citizen: An American Lyric, unpacked the insidious ways in which racism manifests itself in everyday situations. Now, this world premiere play poses the question, ‘Can American society progress if whiteness stays invisible?'”

“People just don’t do these things.” A scene from the National Theatre Live staging of “Hedda Gabler.”

Hedda Gabler, a new version by Patrick Marber of the Heinrik Ibsen play. A National Theatre Live screening at Emerson Paramount Center, Bright Family Screening Room, Boston, MA, February 23 through 25.

One of Ibsen’s masterpieces in a production that looks as if it is giving the script a racy shaking up, with Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove at the helm. Attendance recruited for Ibsenites, many of whom will be rubbed the wrong way.

Ripe Frenzy by Jennifer Barclay. Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary. A New Rep co-production with the Boston Center for American Performance at Studio ONE, Boston University, 855 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA, February 24 through March 11.

“Winner of the National New Play Network’s 2016 Smith Prize for Political Theatre, this site-specific premiere brings us to Tavistown, New York, where a recent tragedy has rocked the community to its core. Narrator and town historian, Zoe, recounts the days leading up to the incident, as the high school prepares for the semi-annual production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.”

— Bill Marx


Cutout + the memo
February 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Drummer Eric Rosenthal presents one of his .01% double bills diving into deliberative spontaneous collective improv. Cutout is pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, trombonist Jeb Bishop, saxophonist Jorrit Djikstra, bassist Nathan McBride, and drummer Luther Gray. The memo is Rosenthal with Bishop, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and bassist Nathan McBride.

The Eric Hofbauer Quintet. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet
February 15 at 7 p.m.
All Saints Church, Boston, MA.

Guitarist Hofbauer’s quintet has made a name for itself with a series of fine recordings of “prehistoric jazz” (a phrase borrowed from Leonard Bernstein, referring to what Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” should sound like in performance). Thus far the series has included that Stravinsky masterpiece, Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” Charles Ives’s “Three Places in New England,” and, last year, Duke Ellington’s remarkable 1935 long-form composition “Reminiscing in Tempo.” You can expect to hear the Ellington as well as some solo pieces and other selections from the band’s repertoire. The players are Hofbauer, Todd Brunel on clarinet and bass clarinet, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Junko Fujiwara on cello, and Curt Newton on drums.

New Black Eagle Jazz Band
February 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

The New Black Eagles, helmed by cornettist and vocalist Tony Pringle, have been a standard-bearer for deeply informed trad jazz for more than four decades (Pringle cites Joe “King” Oliver, George Mitchell, Kid Howard, and Henry “Red” Allen as forbears.) The band also features the estimable reedman Billy Novick.

Lewis Porter/Tia Fuller/John Patitucci/Teri Lyne Carrington
February 15 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Pianist and scholar Lewis Porter (his books include an essential biography of John Coltrane), joins saxophonist Tia Fuller, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Teri Lyne Carrington. It will be interesting to hear how this individually accomplished group comes together as a band.

Chucho Valdés/Gonzalo Rubalcaba
February 16 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

The two Cuban piano masters have created a project called “Trance,” in which they play together and, we guess, offer a solo spot or two each.

Du.0 + Steven Long Quintet + TapTwo
February 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA

Talk about “looks good on paper”! Here’s Du.o: “(pronounced du-point-oh) is a two-violin duo based in New York City. Charlotte Munn-Wood and Aimée Niemann form this ‘feminist-gesamtkünstwerk-chamber-noise’ duo, which plays old, new, and improvised music; and they love finding new sounds on their violins (and sometimes non-violins).” They had me at “feminist-gesamtkünstwerk-chamber-noise,” but a check of their SoundCloud sample offers the kind of beautifully calibrated balance and virtuoso execution of sound patterns that can keep you on the edge of your seat in live performance. The Steven Long Quintet appears to be equally as skilled and adventurous (strings and reeds), as does Tap Two (“Two Boston composer-performers team up for a program of anti-fanfares”).

Singer-songwriter Emma Frank. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Emma Frank
February 21 at 8:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, MA.

Emma Frank is one of those singer-songwriters who lean the jazz way (think: Becca Stevens, Joanna Wallfisch, and, you know, Joni Mitchell). Her new album, Ocean Av (released February 16), includes jazz heavies Aaron Parks (piano) and Jim Black (drums) as well as bassist Rick Rosato and guitarist Frank Rousseau. The album is all originals — so no standards with which to conduct a proper jazz-police investigation. But the poetry of the lyrics is smart, and so are the singing, the voice, and the adventurous musicality. (An admiring fellow songwriter described Frank’s vocal sound as “leather on silk.”) At the Lilypad, Frank will be joined by the crew from the album, with drummer Tommy Crane in place of Black.

James Blood Ulmer
February 22 at 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA.

Guitarist and vocalist Ulmer came to the fore as a member of Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time band in the ’70s, but his experience and influence range far and wide, and his collaborators have included Arthur Blythe, David Murray, Sam Rivers, and John Zorn. His music can be raw, soulful, and visionary. (A couple of exciting memories: Ulmer at the old Streets rock club with his trio of bassist Amin Ali and drummer G. Calvin Weston, and another show at the Channel, with Henry Threadgill on saxophone.)

Neil Leonard, Stephen Vitiello & Scanner
February 23 at 8 p.m.
ICA, Boston, MA.

Saxophonist, electronic music maven, and longtime Berklee prof Neil Leonard joins fellow composers Stephen Vitiello and Scanner for a program called “Sounding the Cloud.” As in: “Drawing inspiration and source material from an array of historic and current sounds associated with the internet, the musicians weave an immersive sonic collage, combining forgotten early digital sounds, the aural cues of the dial-up era, and the inescapable audio of our present moment.”

Sarrow + HD Quintet
February 25 at 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.

Allison Burik’s 2016 album Mythos was a collection of probing, lyrical original compositions all based on, yes, “themes and characters found in world mythology and folklore.” Sarrow features Burik, on alto saxophone and bass clarinet; Eunhye Jeong, on piano and vocals; and singer Tamar Sella. The double bill also features the HD Quintet: Alex Hamburger on flute and vocals, trumpeter Nicole Davis, guitarist Andrew Latona, bassist Mike Roninson, and drummer Juan Sanchez.

— Jon Garelick

Roots and World Music

Joe Val Bluegrass Festival
February 16 through 18
Sheraton, Framingham, MA

Dedicated to the notion that “bluegrass is not a spectator sport,” the area’s biggest winter bluegrass fest includes workshops, formal jams for both beginners and advanced pickers, and hours and hours of informal friendly jam sessions. There’s also no shortage of top tier pros, including a reunion set from the influential Hot Rize and a rare local visit from Eddie and Martha Adcock.

Martin Grosswendt & Susanne Salem-Shatz
February 18
Arts at the Armory Cafe, Somerville, MA

Long one of the top acoustic blues and roots guitarists, Grosswendt is now performing as a duo with compelling singer/songwriter Salem-Shatz.

Anthony B
February 22
Brighton Music Hall, Brighton, MA

A number of reggae artists who made it big in the ’90s — before their careers were stalled both by their own homophobia and visa woes — have returned to the US touring circuit. While shows by Capleton and Sizzla tend to generate more buzz, the strident Rastafarian Anthony B may well be the best live performer of his generation.

February 24
House of Blues, Boston, MA

Boston’s main winter world music festival moves into its third year. Among the many intriguing acts appearing on the three stages are the female mariachi combo Flor De Toloache, Niger-bred rockers Tal National and two of the best live acts I saw last year, Mokoomba and Innov Gnawa.

— Noah Schaffer

Classical Music

Kirchner, Bernstein, and Shostakovich
Presented by New England Conservatory
February 14, 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA

Hugh Wolff conducts Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, plus Leon Kirchner’s Music for Orchestra no. 2 and Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 10.

Thibaudet plays Ravel
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 15-17, 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Jacque Lacombe also leads Ravel’s orchestration of Debussy’s Sarabande et Danse and the complete Daphnis et Chloe.

Brandenburg Concertos
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
February 16-18, 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA (on Friday), Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (on Saturday and Sunday)

H&H performs all six of Bach’s much-loved, endlessly-inventive concertos with all the solos taken by the orchestra’s principal players.

Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher
Presented by Odyssey Opera
February 17, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA

Odyssey’s year-long celebration of Joan of Arc turns to Arthur Honegger’s famous oratorio. Shura Baryshnikov sings the title role.

Korsantia plays Prokofiev
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
February 22 (at 7:30 p.m.) 24 (at 8 p.m.), and 25 (at 3 p.m.)
Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA (on Thursday and Sunday), Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (on Saturday)

Benjamin Zander leads the BPO in an all-Russian program built around Alexander Korsantia performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 3. Also on the program are Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina Prelude and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4.

Blomstedt conducts Mozart
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 22-24, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Herbert Blomstedt returns to the Symphony Hall podium with an all-Mozart program, leading the Symphonies nos. 34, 36, and 41.

Metamorphosis: Orpheus in Oedipus
Presented by Emmanuel Music
February 23 at 8 p.m.
15 Newbury Street,
Parish Hall at Emmanuel Church, Boston, MA

On the program: Matthew Aucoin’s “The Orphic Moment,” John Harbison’s Symphony No. 5 and Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the Harvard Glee Club at Sanders Theatre.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Gramercy Trio
February 15 at 7 p.m.
At the Community Music Center of Boston/Allen Hall, 34 Warren Avenue, Boston, MA

the Community Music Center of Boston presents a concert that connects with the group’s theme for the year, “playing Mozart’s C Major trio K 548, written at 32 yrs old and Mendelssohn’s D Minor, Op. 49 at 30 yrs old. With these pieces, all three instruments have exemplary moments to shine!”

Schola Cantorum of Boston
February 17 at 8 p.m.
At the First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

On the program: Bach’s Komm Jesu Komm; Martin: Mass (selections); Byrd’s Quomodo cantabimus; Monte: Super Flumina; and new works by Eric Nathan, Megan Henderson, and Adam Simon

Boston Chamber Music Society
February 18 at 3 p.m.
At Sanders Theatre/Harvard University, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

On the program: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Serenade in D major for Flute, Violin and Viola, Op. 25; Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, L. 137; William Walton’s Piano Quartet in D minor.

Itzhak Perlman/Pinchas Zukerman/Rohan De Silva
February 18 at 5 p.m.
At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA

Presented by the Celebrity Series. The program: J.S. Bach’s Sonata for two violins and keyboard, BWV 1037; Mozart’s Duo for violin and viola, K. 423; Wieniawski’s Etudes-Caprices for two violins, Op. 18; Bartok’s Selections from Duos for Two Violins, Sz. 98; Moszkowski’s Suite for two violins and piano, Op. 71.

Emanuel Ax piano, Leonidas Kavakos violin, Yo-Yo Ma cello
February 21 at 8 p.m.
At Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA

Presented by Celebrity Series. On the program: Brahms’s Trio No. 2 in C Major, Trio No. 3 in C minor, Trio No. 1 in B Major.

— Susan Miron

Rock, Pop, and Folk

Bent Knee with Beartronaut and Roz & the Ricecakes
February 16 (doors at 7)

Cambridge, MA
Proceeds from this Friday night triple bill of local bands will raise money for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Headliners Bent Knee have released four albums since their 2009 formation, gaining praise from the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Consequence of Sound in the process. Bearstronaut, meanwhile, has a long history of Boston Music Awards recognition to their credit. Among their seven nominations between 2008 and 2013 are two wins for Best Electronic Act/Electronic Artist of the Year and one for College Band of the Year.
Robyn Hitchcock with Mike Dent & Pete Donnelly of The Figgs
February 17 (doors at 6, show at 7)
Any concert that includes a performance by Robyn Hitchcock is going be great for that reason alone. His Saturday night performance in Newburyport will be doubly so by virtue of its serving as a benefit for The Tedrock Fund. Established last year in honor of the late lawyer and musician Ted Collins, this charity supports music education programs in Massachusetts. Mike Gent and Pete Donnelly, Collins’s bandmates in The Figgs, will open the show. (Click here for the interview that I did with Hitchcock last year.)
February 16 (doors at 8, show at 9)
ONCE Ballroom, Somerville, MA
Boston rock quartet The Shills top this quadruple-Boston-band bill that will also serve as an EP release show for The Lights Out.

— Blake Maddux

Author Events

Dave Eggers
The Monk of Mokha
February 14 at 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6)
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $29.75, including copy of book

The popular author of What Is The What and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius will read and discuss his latest book with its subject, Mokhtar Alkhanshali. Mokhtar is San Franciscan of Yemeni descent who becomes obsessed with how the coffee is grown in his native land, which reconnects him to the country’s turbulent and at times shocking history.

Dorje Dolma
Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal
February 16 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Dolpo is a remote, legendary region of Nepal, near Tibet. When Dolma was growing up, there was no running water or electricity, cars, phones, schools, or doctors. Dolma explores how, as a spirited young woman, she learned Tibetan rituals and traditions while living in a raw natural environment.

A Conversation between Atul Gawande and George Saunders
February 18 from 3-5 p.m.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre MA
Tickets are between $6.50 and $21.98, including a copy of the book

Two of the wisest and most generous minds of our times sit down to talk in Newton. They come from different fields, but they have much in common. Gawande is a practicing surgeon whose books explore the limits of what pragmatic science can teach us; Saunders’s acclaimed fiction pushes the limits of narrative, exploring new ways of dramatizing the twists and turns of morality.

Nasty Women Poets Reading
February 23 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Maybe the one good thing about authoritarian governments is that they bring out their citizen’s capacity for creative rebellion. Porter Square Books will host a reading from a series of acclaimed female poets who will eloquently refuse to be “nice girls” and instead cheerfully and bravely read from their new collections of verse.

Junot Diaz BBC World Service Book Club
February 27 at 7 p.m.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge MA

Diaz is the author of the Pulitzer winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown, and This Is How You Lose Her. The first of these books will be featured as a part of the BBC’s World Book Club, which means that Diaz (a charismatic public speaker) will be in Porter Square Books to field questions about his tome and will discuss its resonance over the international airwaves. You can submit questions and reserve your place to be part of the event in the link above.

Patton Oswalt in Conversation with Robin Young
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
March 1 from 6- 7 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA
Tickets are $27.99, including a copy of the book

Michelle McNamara was the late wife of beloved standup comic Patton Oswalt. She died unexpectedly while she was writing her magnum opus. A well-regarded crime journalist, McNamara spent years researching the hunt to find the sadistic Golden State Killer, focusing on the story of a woman who was determined to track him down. In an event sponsored by WBUR, Oswalt will discuss the book live onstage as a tribute to the passion project of his departed wife.

— Matt Hanson


  1. […] By Jon Garelick, The Arts Fuse […]

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