Coming Attractions: January 15 Through 31 — What Will Light Your Fire

As the age of Covid-19 more or less wanes, Arts Fuse critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.


My French Film Festival
January 13 – February 13

A scene from Bloody Oranges, one of the selections in the My French Film Festival.

The festival, organized by Unifrance, will mark its 13th edition with an emphasis on debut features and dynamic new voices. Registration is required but the all-access pass is quite a bargain, as are the individual films: 12 features and 17 shorts. The shorts are available free of charge. The entries include Alice Diop’s documentary We, which explores connections in the lives of immigrants, lovesick teens, and retirees, all of whom are connected by a commuter rail line north of Paris, and the satirical sketch comedy Bloody Oranges, which shreds polite society with anarchic glee. There are also star vehicles for the likes of Isabelle Huppert (About Joan) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Zero Fucks Given) and examples of bittersweet animation (The Crossing). Listing of Films

January 13 – 19
Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline

Among the Coolidge’s excellent selection of current films comes this micro-budgeted horror oddity that was well received at the Fantasia-fest. It garnered good reviews and lots of love on social media as well. Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished. “Opening in 1995 and resembling a long-buried VHS tape, Skinamarink, with its scratchy silences and piggy bank-budget aesthetic, is chillingly surreal and infuriatingly repetitive. There’s uncanny logic in his looping shots of pajama-clad legs and scattered Lego bricks, in the tinny jingle of cartoons on a flickering television screen. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle whose picture has long been lost, each scene promises a solution to the children’s predicament if we can only find its place within the whole.” (NY Times)

Belmont World Film’s Family Festival 2023
January 16

Martin Luther King Day is the inspiration for a roster of films for children (and adults) beginning at 10:30 a.m. with You’ve Got A Friend, one hour of stories about Dr. King and his ideals and contemporaries as interpreted by Weston Woods Studios. This is followed by the International Shorts Program at noon, then Little Nicholas: Happy as Can Be at 1:30 and Icarus & the Minotaur at 3:30. Program descriptions

A scene from Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood.

(Some of) The Best of 2022
January 20 – Feb 2
Brattle Theatre in Cambridge

Time to catch up: a look at the best of the films released in 2022. The Brattle selects 20 movies that you may have missed. Few saw Something in the Dirt (1/20), an example of maverick filmmaking that offers a twisted reflection on our paranoid times in an inventive mix of buddy comedy and sci-fi thriller. There is a double feature of Ti West’s horror set, Pearl and X (1/26). There is also a rare chance to see Richard Linklater’s brilliant rotoscope animated feature Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood on the big screen. It is paired with the marvelous Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (1/28) (Arts Fuse review)  Check out the full schedule.

The Sundance Film Festival Online
January 24–29

Sundance screens many of the best up and coming films. Six days have been set aside to stream a selection of the year’s offerings. Films can be watched on-demand for a limited period. For passes and single tickets link here. Descriptions of films here.

The Boston Festival of Films from Iran
January 26–28
Museum of Fine Arts Boston

A scene from the restoration of The Runner, a selection this year’s Boston Festival of Films from Iran.

A welcome return of the MFA’s festival of films from Iran. This year features three new releases and a restored gem of the Iranian New Wave.
The Apple Day is a sympathetic look at the hardships of a family who never give up on each other. Holy Spider, the true story of a serial killer, offers a provocative perspective on systemic misogyny. This Is Not Me follows two trans men as they navigate the Iranian legal system to receive approval for gender-affirming surgery. And there is a restoration of The Runner from 1984: this is a gorgeous, synth-laden coming-of-age tale, with one of cinema’s greatest child performances. Dates and times

Pick of the Week
Ray & Liz
Prime ($3.99 to rent), Roku (free with commercials)

A scene from Richard Billingham’s Ray & Liz.

Much of the satisfaction in artist Richard Billingham’s autobiographical debut feature is its luscious cinematography. Director of photography Daniel Landin (Under the Skin, Sexy Beast) has crafted a series of imaginative compositions that seamlessly reflect Billingham’s photographer’s eye. The director draws on bittersweet memories of his alcoholic father, Ray, and his violent mother, Liz, during the years they lived in a Black Country council flat outside Birmingham, England. Three different stages in his parents’ marriage are depicted. Variety called this gritty but often amusing bit of “hardknock cine-memoir” “a patient, probing gaze that sits halfway between cruel exposure and bittersweet affection.”

— Tim Jackson


COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters; requirements often include proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 rapid test. Also, companies are requiring masks at indoor performances.

‘Bov Water by Celeste Jenning. Directed by abigail jean-baptise. Staged by Northern Stage in the Byrne Theater at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction, VT, January 25 through February 12.

The world premiere production of a play that dramatizes how “four generations of Black women breathe and bathe in a past that’s both intentionally and accidentally forgotten. Challenging and discovering their own narratives from the Civil War to the 1960s to modern-day America, these strong and inquisitive souls wrestle to unearth a family’s past and build resilience for the future.” Part of Northern Stage’s 25th Anniversary Season.

Sweet Goats and Blueberry Señoritas by Richard Blanco and Vanessa Garcia. Directed by Sally Wood. Staged by Portland Stage, 25 Forest Ave, Portland, ME, January 25 through February 12.

The world premiere production of a Maine Made Play commissioned by Portland Stage: “Beatriz, a Cuban American baker in Maine, tries to figure out whether she should stay with the community she’s developed, or reunite with her estranged mother in Miami. Along the way Beatriz explores what it means to belong as she cooks up the recipes of her childhood with the raw ingredients of Maine.”

Adi Dixit (“Pi”), Rowan Magee, Celia Mei Rubin, and Nikki Calonge (“Richard Parker”) in the A.R.T. presentation of Life of Pi.

Life of Pi, based on the 2001 novel by Yann Martel. Adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti. Directed by Max Webster. Puppetry and movement direction by Finn Caldwell. Scenic and costume design by Tim Hatley. Presented by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb drama Center, Cambridge, through January 29.

A North American premiere: “Sixteen-year-old Pi and his family set off to emigrate from India, but after their ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with just four other survivors — a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?” Winner of five 2022 Olivier Awards including Best New Play, the production, which promises to be spectacular, plays here before it makes its way to Broadway in March. Arts Fuse review

Will McGarrahan, Dan Rodriguez, Dan Prior, Kayla Shimizu, Anthony Pires, Jr. and Aimee Doherty in the Lyric Stage production of Preludes. Photo: Mark S. Howard

Preludes, with music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations by Dave Malloy. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Music direction by Dan Rodriguiez. Staged by the Lyric Stage, 140 Clarendon Street, Boston, through February 6.

“A musical fantasia, Preludes unfolds in the hypnotized mind of composer and virtuoso pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff as he attempts to overcome his writer’s
block following a disastrous premiere of his Symphony No. 1 in D minor. In an array of hypnotic reveries, he is invigorated by some of the most influential
artists of the time including Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Tchaikovsky. Creativity is unlocked and ignited through Dave Malloy’s (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) bewitching mashup of original compositions and Rachmaninoff’s own work.” The cast includes Aimee Doherty and Will McGarrahan. Arts Fuse review

The Art of Burning by Kate Snodgrass. Directed by Melia Bensussen. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at The Huntington/Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston, through February 12. Following the run at The Huntington, the production will move to Hartford Stage, where Bensussen is artistic director. Performances will run there from March 2 through 26.

The world premiere production of this script at The Huntington marks the debut at the company of the work of Kate Snodrass, Boston playwright and leader of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre for 35 years. The plot “follows modernist painter Patricia as she changes the terms of her divorce with husband Jason mid-negotiation. Meanwhile, their daughter Beth didn’t show up for school. Does Patricia know where she is, or is there something more sinister afoot?” The drama “explores the love, rage, and responsibility that come with marriage and parenting in America.” The cast includes Adrianne Krstansky, Michael Kaye, and Laura Latreille.

Jeanine Kane as Grace in the Gamm Theatre production of The Faith Healer. Photo: Cat Laine

The Faith Healer by Brian Friel. Directed by Donnia Hughes. Staged by the Gamm Theatre at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI, through January 29.

Friel’s 1979 play, which many critics consider a masterpiece, retains its power: “It weaves together the stories of an erratic itinerant faith healer with those of his embittered but loving wife and his weary stage manager. In lyrical monologues, the characters deliver conflicting versions of ‘the fantastic Francis Hardy’s’ performances, while slowly revealing a terrible event at the story’s center.”

By the Queen, drawn from William Shakespeare by Whitney White. Directed by Brian McEleney. Staged by the Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theatre, 201 Washington Street, Providence, through February 12.

A world premiere production: “From her roots as a provincial princess of France, to her ascension to the throne of England and her eventual downfall, Queen Margaret is one of the most complicated, fascinating, and thrilling characters in Shakespeare’s works. She is a warrior, a wife, a politician, a mother … and this dynamic new drama, lifted and remixed from the text of Henry VI and Richard III, finally gives her story the telling it deserves.” This production includes seating on the stage AND regular audience seating. We invite you to choose On-Stage or Off-Stage (traditional) seating.

A scene from the Wilbury Theatre Group’s production of We’re Gonna Die.

We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee. Directed by Marcel A. Mascaro. Music direction / vocals + soundscape by Chazz Giovanni. Guitar by Jose Docen. Percussion + bass by ​Teddy Lytle. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group at 475 Valley Street, Providence, January 19 through February 12.

This Obie Award-winning show by the author of Straight White Men and Church blends  storytelling, stand-up, music, and theater into “a funny, sweet, and darkly weird song cycle that engages audiences and lets us know we may be miserable, but at least we won’t be alone.” The production features Helena Tafuri, Chazz Bruce, Jose Docen and Teddy Lytle.

Letters from Home, written and performed by Kalean Ung. Directed by and developed with Marina McClure. Music by Chinary Ung. Staged by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 E. Merrimack Street in Lowell, MA, January 18 through February 5.

The East Coast premiere of Kalean Ung’s play, which “weaves together her Cambodian family’s refugee story with her own as a bi-racial, second-generation American. Inspired by family members’ letters sent to her father from refugee camps after the Cambodian genocide, Letters from Home unearths the myths and mysteries of her family’s past as a ritual for intergenerational healing.”

Wolf Play by Hansol Jung. Directed by Carol Ann Tan. Staged by the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company MFA Programs in Acting and Directing at the Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire St., Providence, January 27 through February 5.

The plot: “Wolves are social animals and Jeenu is no exception. A Korean boy who may or may not be a wolf, Jeenu is adopted by an American family before being suddenly “rehomed” to another couple. But when his original adoptive father decides he wants the boy back upon learning his new parents are queer, Jeenu finds himself caught in the middle of a custody battle, two strained marriages, and a pro boxer’s debut. Amidst the chaos, Jeenu is determined to find his true pack.”

— Bill Marx

Visual Arts

In conjunction with its career survey of Massachusetts artist Daniel Jocz (Daniel Jocz: Permission Granted, through May 14), Brockton’s Fuller Crafts Museum has organized  Creative Alloys: The Boston Metals Scene, which opens on January 28. The show focuses on the “creative ecosystem” that has nurtured Jocz—the metalsmithing and jewelry community that has inspired, educated, and supporting Boston metal artists for half a century. More than a dozen artists are on view, including Jamie Bennett, Rena Koopman, and Joe Wood.

Beverly Hallam, Arabesque, 1966. Photo:Addison Gallery of American Art.

Women and Abstraction: 1741-Now opening at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, on January 28, revises in the history of American art in several directions: it expands the definition and time-span of abstraction and focuses, not on the established female figures in post-war abstraction— women like Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Joan Mitchell (all of whom were white and Jewish), but on “marginalized and overlooked women” who remain “neglected by scholars and museums alike.” Drawn mostly from works in the Addison collection, the show also rejects “chronology, hierarchies of medium, and the restrictive definitions of art movements” to explore work in a variety of mediums that use the deep structures of non-representational aesthetics, among them color, line, and pattern.

Tufts University Art Galleriesre: imagining collections, opening January 23, takes a starting point another revisionist project: re-examining art museums and their projects from the point of view of 21st-century concepts of post-colonialism, rights to cultural property, and the ethics of collecting. Following a now-common museum practice, the museum has invited a group of artists to explore at and interpret their under-studied collections of antiquities from the Americas and the Mediterranean, dating from the 5th century BCE to the 7th century CE. The five artists — Ali Cherri, Nicole Cherubini, Lily Cox-Richard, NIC Kay, and SANGREE — have each created installations and performance pieces that address these works and bring them into the context of these contemporary artists’ own histories and identities.

Boston-based Taylor Davis is the first artist invited to organize an exhibition from the Institute of Contemporary Art’s permanent collection, itself a fairly recent innovation at the ICA. It did not collect art for most of its more than ninety year history. Davis’ own work focuses on the object and its human observer. Taylor Davis Selects: Invisible Ground of Sympathy extends the field and intends to put the viewer at the center of a constellation of work “to activate their different emotional and psychological intensities” while considering “themes of precarity, wonder, violence, and beauty.” The exhibition opens on January 31.

Weary Herakles, Hellenistic, Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), c. 50–25 BCE. Terracotta. Photo: Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek

James Loeb (1867-1933) was a New York banker, collector, philanthropist and member of the Harvard College Class of 1888.  His many passionate interests included classical art and literature, music, and the new field of psychiatry (in the early 1900s, Loeb stayed for some time with Sigmund Freud in Vienna). Loeb’s philanthropy helped establish the American Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School), Harvard’s music building and concert hall, the German Research Institute for Psychiatry in Munich, medical institutions in the United States and Germany, and the Loeb Classical Library, now published by the Harvard University Press.

After retiring from his family’s banking firm, citing poor health, Loeb moved to Munich and later stayed permanently at his country estate near Murnau. He donated his collections of classical bronzes and vases to the Staatliche Antikensammlungen in Munich. A loan from the Munich institution of more than 60 Greek and Roman objects from Loeb’s collection forms the core of the exhibition A World Within Reach: the Loeb Collection, which opens at the Harvard Art Museums on January 28. The selection includes ordinary people of the classical world fashioned in clay and bronze, small-scale animal sculptures, and some spectacular jewelry, all arranged under the themes of power, desire, and wonder.

— Peter Walsh


Gregory Groover
January 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Peabody Hall, Parish of All Saints, Dorchester, MA

Mandorla Music begins its 2023 season with gospel-inspired tenor saxophonist Gregory Groover and an excellent band that includes trumpeter Jason Palmer, pianist Santiago Bosch, bassist Max Ridley, and drummer Tyson Jackson. It’s part of the ongoing Dot Jazz Series, co-presented by Mandorla and Greater Ashmont Main Street.

Dave Bryant
January 19 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge

Composer and keyboardist Dave Bryant continues his “Third Thursdays” series at the Harvard-Epworth Church, exploring the legacy of his late boss, Ornette Coleman, both with original compositions and deep cuts from the Ornette songbook — meaning not only Ornette “standards” but also rarities culled from live-performance playlists of his later years along with pieces by associates such as Bern Nix. Joining Bryant tonight are bassist Bruno Råberg and percussionist Jerry Leake.

Jorrit Dijkstra’s PorchBone will perform at Lilypad. Photo: Stephen Malagodi

Driff Records Winter Festivalette
Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.

The venerable Boston-based Driff Records (b. 2012) convenes this “Festivalette,” a variation of its day-long Driff Fests, which typically happen in June (the last was in 2021). In this case, the label celebrates the release of last year’s 3-CD Duals, each with a different duo arrangement for pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, trombonist Jeb Bishop, and bassist Damon Smith. For tonight’s show, Karayorgis will face off with Bishop. The other half of the program anticipates a new Driff recording with Jorrit Dijkstra’s PorchBone, an extension of his Porch Trio, with Nate McBride on bass and electric bass guitar; drummer and percussionist Eric Rosenthal; and trombonists Bishop, Michael Prentky, and Bill Lowe (the last on bass trombone and tuba). Dijkstra will deploy his usual mix of saxophones, lyricon, and analog electronics. Both sets will feature original compositions and spontaneous improvisations.

Jeremy Pelt
January 21 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

The very fine post-bop trumpeter and composer Jeremy Pelt comes in with a quintet for two shows at Scullers. His 2021 album Griot: This Is Important, alternated compelling original compositions with spoken-word interludes from the likes Paul West, Larry Willis, René Marie, Harold Mabern, Ambrose Akinmusire, and others regarding the role of jazz in their own lives and as a storytelling tradition of African American life. Presumably you’ll be hearing the music without the stories tonight, but you’ll probably hear those stories in the music.

(l to r) Yoron Israel, Laszlo Gardony, and John Lockwood. Photo: Chris Drucker

Laszlo Gardony
January 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Friend Recital Hall, Berklee College of Music, Boston

The press-release shorthand for Laszlo Gardony is “Bartók meets Monk meets King Crimson,” but the Budapest-born pianist and composer long ago melded all these influences into a singular personal style — so the thumping rock of the first chords of “Irrepressible” (the opener from his new Close Connection) soon breaks off into multiple strands that include funk and Central European folk. Elsewhere there’s proggy rock, New Orleans dance rhythms, African polyrhythms, and classic bebop piano, with dazzling lines of running eighth notes over swing-jazz rhythm. After two solo-piano albums, Gardony reunited with longtime trio mates John Lockwood (bass) and Yoron Israel (drums) for Close Connection. They celebrate its release with this free concert at Berklee (where Gardony has taught since 1987).

Tyson Jackson Quartet
January 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Buzzed-about young drummer Tyson Jackson (b. 1997) fronts an excellent quartet with saxophonist Gregory Groover (see January 19), pianist Kevin Harris, and bassist Max Ridley.

Eddie Palmieri will perform at Scullers Jazz Club on January 28. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Eddie Palmieri
January 28 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston

NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri is as responsible as anyone for the creation of the modern, New York strain of Afro-Latin jazz and dance music. The South Bronx-born pianist and composer, now 86, melded traditional Cuban and other Afro-Latin forms and rhythms to create his own sound, all informed by his dynamic piano playing, which draws on traditional montuno vamps combined with McCoy Tyner-esque jazz virtuosity. He brings his Latin Jazz Band to Scullers for two shows.

Branford Marsalis Quartet
January 28 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston

Three decades on, the mighty Branford Marsalis Quartet marches on — pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis having been with the leader for more than 20 years, drummer Justin Faulkner joining in 2009. The band’s last album, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, in addition to pieces by Marsalis, Revis, and Calderazzo, included compositions by Andrew Hill and Keith Jarrett. The guess here is that after all that time — and the requisite COVID layoff — the band will have some new material to work out.

Jazz Composer Alliance Orchestra
January 29 at 3 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge

Since its founding in 1985, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra has compiled a track record that includes more than 120 new compositions, including commissions for Muhal Richard Abrams, Marty Ehrlich, and Wayne Horvitz, collaborations with Julius Hemphill, Hendry Threadgill, Sam Rivers, and Dave Holland, and a steady stream of fresh work from its resident composers. After a COVID-imposed hiatus, the JCAO returns for this show at the Lilypad. The 21-piece band will play new music by David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson, as well as pieces from their 2020 album Live at the BPC. The band will repeat the program on February 1 (7 p.m.) at the Arlington High School Auditorium, with the addition of the AHS Jazz Band, who will open the show and join the JCAO for Rabson’s “In Bb,” composed in honor of minimalist composer Terry Riley’s “In C.” Further details are available at the band’s website.

— Jon Garelick


LaTasha Barnes’ The Jazz Continuum
January 19-21
NEC’s Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre
Boston, MA

Celebrity Series of Boston presents dancer, choreographer, and educator LaTasha Barnes and her collective of extraordinary dance artists and jazz musicians in The Jazz Continuum. Seven dancers and jazz musicians engage in lively interplay as they examine the parallel flourishing of jazz music and Black American social dance styles over the decades.

MDC Live presents CIE. The Hervé Koubi dance performance at Olympia Theater, February 10, 2018.

Compagnie Hervé Koubi
January 21 at 8 p.m.
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

Enjoy Compagnie Hervé Koubi’s evening of highly physical, fluid performance combining hip-hop, capoeira, and contemporary dance with iconic Sufi imagery. Presented by Global Arts Live as part of its Winter Dance Fest, Compagnie Hervé Koubi comprises Algerian, Moroccan, Bulgarian, Italian, and French dancers whose work explores the historical mix of various cultures and religions spanning the Mediterranean.

New Formations
January 21 at 6 p.m.
deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Lincoln, MA

Abilities Dance Boston presents a new commissioned work to expand on the ideas and imagery in deCordova’s New Formations‘ exhibition. Encompassing contemporary photography, video, and painting, the exhibition features human bodies in powerful athletic performance and ecstatic expressions of dance. Abilities’ new work amplifies this physicality through live movement.

January 21 at 7 p.m.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Ridgefield, CT

Ali Kenner Brodsky’s moments is a multifaceted performance piece that has been in development for the past five years: it integrates dance, music, and art. This dance-theatre work probes themes of memory, loss, and love, while examining closeness and the challenge of moving forward through grief. The piece seeks to break through the stigma of grief by giving audiences a moment to be present to their own experiences of loss.

— Merli V. Guerra

Classical Music

Violinist Nicola Benedetti makes her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut this week. Photo: Facebook.

Nicola Benedetti plays Szymanowski
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 19 at 7:30 p.m., 20 at 1:30 p.m., and 21 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

The brilliant Italian-British violinist makes her BSO debut with Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Karina Canellakis, who’s made quite the impression in recent summers at Tanglewood, makes her own Symphony Hall debut, conducting Dvorak’s The Wood Dove and Witold Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra.

Beethoven’s Eroica
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
January 20 at 7:30 p.m. and 22 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston

Václav Luks leads H&H in a pair of turn-of-the-19th-century selections: Beethoven’s celebrated Eroica Symphony and Paul Wrantizky’s Symphony in D minor, “La tempesta.”

Opera Bites
Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
January 20-22, 7:30 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sunday)
Pickman Hall, Cambridge

BOC’s popular series of short operas presented in cabaret setting returns, this year featuring eight 10-minute-long works (plus drinks and refreshments).

Emerson Quartet Farewell Concert
Presented by Celebrity Series
January 22, 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Emerson String Quartet’s farewell season comes to Boston – and with a program that suggests anything but a complacent departure from this most celebrated of chamber groups: works by Bartók, Shostakovich, and Beethoven share the bill with George Walker’s touching Lyric for Strings.

Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Andris Nelsons leads violinist Baiba Skride. Photo: Hilary Scott.

Baiba Skride plays Shostakovich
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
January 26 at 7:30 p.m., 27 and 28 (at 8 p.m.)
Symphony Hall, Boston

The BSO’s ongoing Shostakovich recording cycle continues on its home stretch with Skride playing the Violin Concerto No. 2. Music director Andris Nelsons conducts further pieces by Steven Mackey (the world premiere of his Concerto for Curved Space) and Brahms (Symphony No. 4).

Danish String Quartet
Presented by Celebrity Series
January 27, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston

The Danish String Quartet returns to Boston with assorted Nordic folk tunes in tow, as well as music by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Benjamin Britten.

— Jonathan Blumhofer

Roots and World Music

Joe K. Walsh
January 20
Club Passim

Bands with progressive bluegrass superpickers often go for broke — playing one rapid-fire tune after another — in order to meet expectations. And there’s no doubt that mandolinist Joe K. Walsh can (and has) played jaw-dropping licks at high speeds. But he long yearned to release what he describes as an “understated, conversational instrumental record” Now he has done it with the gorgeous and sublime If Not Now, Who? Walsh celebrates the album’s arrival with a fine ensemble that includes legendary fiddler Darol Anger and master guitarist Grand Gordy, both of whom also play with Walsh in the band Mr. Sun. Versatile Boston bassist Brittany Karlson and percussionist John Suntken round out the touring ensemble.

The Lads from Liverpool: Songs and Stories
January 29, 3 p.m.
City Winery

It’s still astonishing how many great pop artists emerged from Liverpool, England in the ’60s. Three of them were Billy J. Kramer of the Dakotas, Joey Molland of Badfinger, and Terry Sylvester, who was an Escort and a Swinging Blue Jean before he replaced Graham Nash in the Hollies. In this matinee performance these Merseybeat survivors will swap songs and, maybe best of all, stories about the local music scene that changed the world.

— Noah Schaffer

Author Events

Richard Hoffman with Sven Birkerts — Porter Square Books
Remembering the Alchemists & other Essays
January 17 at 7 p.m.

Remembering the Alchemists is an intense, passionate, and moving collection of personal essays that never loses sight of the moral issues it raises. At times thoughtful and wise and at other times a cri de cœur, it is held together by the experienced voice of an essayist at the top of his game. Richard Hoffman speaks softly, even reverently, in the presence of art and the natural world, but addressing militarism, war, and violence against children, he speaks with urgency and earnest questioning. Several of these essays ask how it is that we seem to have given up on ourselves, and what it might take to turn the cascading traumas of history into compassion for one another and lessons for the future.”

Virtual Event: Dr. Suzie Sheehy – Harvard Book Store
The Matter of Everything: How Curiosity, Physics, and Improbable Experiments Changed the World
January 18 at 6 p.m.
Free with $5 suggested contribution

“In The Matter of Everything, accelerator physicist Suzie Sheehy introduces us to the people who, through a combination of genius, persistence and luck, staged the experiments that changed the course of history. From the serendipitous discovery of X-rays in a German laboratory, to the scientists trying to prove Einstein wrong (and inadvertently proving him right), to the race to split open the atom, these experiments not only shaped our understanding of the cosmos, but also shaped how we live within it. These breakthroughs have helped us build detectors that map the insides of volcanoes, develop life-saving medical equipment and create electronic devices used in everything from fiber-optic cables to solar panels—among countless other advancements.”

Cozy Winter Yoga and Tea at Brookline Booksmith
January 22 at 10 a.m.

“Enjoy 60 minutes of nourishing yoga, followed by a cup of tea and book browsing. On a cold winter’s day, what’s better than snuggling up with a cozy blanket and a book? Adding in some rejuvenating movement for your body and soul!

Roll out of bed and head to Brookline Booksmith for a dose of gentle and nourishing yoga, followed by a cup of warm tea while you browse the bookstore for your new winter read. In fact, to encourage a wellness mindset for 2023, Coolidge Yoga staff selected a collection of their favorite books on yoga, meditation, and mindfulness (available in-store and online here) just for you. Our cozy experience will lift your spirits, warm you up from the inside out, and help soothe your nervous system for a relaxing Sunday ahead.”

Ilyon Woo at Harvard Book Store
Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom
January 23 at 7 p.m.

“With three epic journeys compressed into one monumental bid for freedom, Master Slave Husband Wife is an American love story — one that would challenge the nation’s core precepts of life, liberty, and justice for all — one that challenges us even now.”

Reconnecting to Matrilineal Homes: Chelsea T. Hicks with Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi at brookline booksmith
January 27 at noon

“Join Literatures of Annihilation, Exile, and Resistance for a virtual event on reconnecting to matrilineal homes with Chelsea T. Hicks and Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi.  Chelsea T. Hicks is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ MFA in creative writing, and holds an MA from the University of California at Davis. She is a Tulsa Artist Fellow and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation LIFT Awardee. Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of the novels Savage Tongues and Call Me Zebra which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the John Gardner Award, and was long listed for the PEN Open Book Award.”

Catherine Newman with Joanna Rakoff at Porter Square Books
We All Want Impossible Things
January 30 at 7 p.m.

“For lovers of Meg Wolitzer, Maria Semple, and Jenny Offill comes Catherine Newman’s raucous, poignant celebration of life, love, and friendship at its imperfect and radiant best.

Edith and Ashley have been best friends for over forty-two years. They’ve shared the mundane and the momentous together: trick or treating and binge drinking; Gilligan’s Island reruns and REM concerts; hickeys and heartbreak; surprise Scottish wakes; marriages, infertility, and children. As Ash says, “Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.” But now the unthinkable has happened. Edi is dying of ovarian cancer and spending her last days at a hospice near Ash, who stumbles into heartbreak surrounded by her daughters, ex(ish) husband, dear friends, a poorly chosen lover (or two), and a rotating cast of beautifully, fleetingly human hospice characters.

As The Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack blasts all day long from the room next door, Edi and Ash reminisce, hold on, and try to let go. Meanwhile, Ash struggles with being an imperfect friend, wife, and parent—with life, in other words, distilled to its heartbreaking, joyful, and comedic essence. For anyone who’s ever lost a friend or had one. Get ready to laugh through your tears.”

Patricia Engel at brookline booksmith
The Faraway World
January 30 at 7 p.m.

“From Patricia Engel, whose novel Infinite Country was a New York Times bestseller and a Reese’s Book Club pick, comes an exquisite collection of ten haunting, award-winning short stories set across the Americas

— Matt Hanson

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