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.
Nobody’s Hero (Viens je t’emmène) (2022)
Harvard Film Archive
February 12 at 3 p.m.; February 13 at 7 p.m.; February 19 at 7 p.m.
Médéric, a likeable, unassuming man in his mid-30s, has fallen head over heels in love with the older, married sex worker Isadora. News of a terrorist attack in Clermont-Ferrand in France catches Isadora and Médéric while they are in bed. The city is in turmoil. Sélim, a homeless young man of Arab origin, is given money and shelter by Médéric. But then the latter begins to suspect that Sélim might have been involved in the attack and calls the police. In the meantime, Isadora’s jealous husband turns up. The film is an odd mix of a social critique, comedy, and off -kilter sex drama.
Boston Sci-Fi Festival
February 15 – 20
Somerville Theatre in Davis Square
Boston’s longest running genre festival begins. The lineup includes feature films, shorts, panels, an all-night marathon, and even a costume ball. This year the festival is a hybrid event, live and virtual, with roughly 30 features, 75 shorts, 10 workshops/panels and parties, and the annual 24-hour marathon of classic, not-so-classic and downright schlocky films with guests, games, and surprises. Individual tickets are available here. The Festival Pass as well as tickets for The Marathon and The Time Traveler’s Ball: Celebrating 60 Years of Doctor Who are available here.
Boston Globe Black History Month Festival
February 13, 17, 21, and 27
Various venues and online
In its third year, the festival celebrates the lives and culture of Black Americans all February long. The lineup includes new and vintage films; each screening will be followed by a virtual panel event to provide insight and context for these stories of strength, joy, and love.Tickets and information available here.
2023 Oscar Nominated Shorts
Screenings at the Coolidge Corner Theatre
Live Action & Animated Shorts begin February 17. Documentary shorts begin February 24.
Screenings at the Institute of Contemporary Art
Oscar Shorts play throughout February and early March on a rotating schedule. Times and dates
MFA Film Picks: Best International Films of 2022
Museum of Fine Arts Boston
The MFA has picked four foreign language Award nominees for this program.
February 16 at 7 p.m.
Poland’s submission for Best International Feature
Decision to Leave
February 17 at 7 p.m.
South Korea’s submission for Best International Feature (Arts Fuse Review)
February 18 at 2:30 p.m.
Austria’s submission for Best International Feature
February 19 at 2:30 p.m.
France’s submission for Best International Feature (Arts Fuse Review)
Gruffat & Bill Brown: Moved or Being Moved
RPM Festival and the Brattle co-present seven shorts in this program of films by artist-filmmaker duo Sabine Gruffat and Bill Brown, who have been making experimental, documentary, and essay films, as well as performing live electronic improvisation for over two decades. Gruffat makes use of different methods to generate content and images, from laser cutting/etching on 35mm film strips to 3D animation. Brown is known for his nomadic approach to filmmaking and for transporting viewers to various destinations.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.
A West Texas single mother, who once won $190,000 in a lottery, has squandered her winnings to drink and drugs, abandoned her young son, and is now a tragic alcoholic struggling to return to a semblance of normal life. To Leslie is what was once called a “sleeper” — a small film with little initial notice that picks up steam. In this case, a last-minute campaign begun by Edward Norton, followed by other A-List actors, secured English actress Andrea Riseborough a Best Actress nomination for what they saw as Riseborough’s tour-de-force lead. Kate Winslet called it “the greatest female performance onscreen I have ever seen in my life.”
Once the news of the support broke, the Academy threatened to rescind the nomination for improper “tactics.” Some say the controversy was staged; the film simply did not have the budget for FYC (For Your Consideration) ads. Nevertheless, the nomination stands. The film, which also features Marc Maron and Allison Janney, plays like the bittersweet country songs that fill the soundtrack. Riseborough, a wonderfully chameleonic actress, is remarkable, but she is up against strong contenders. You decide! (Arts Fuse review)
— Tim Jackson
February 17 & 18 at 7 p.m.
Multicultural Arts Center
Urbanity Dance’s Creative Class of Urbanity Underground and Junior Apprentice dancers will perform and present new works in Reverberate. Urbanity Underground is Urbanity’s second company, which is made up of accomplished dancers who are pursuing various professions or advanced studies. Urbanity’s Junior Apprentices are talented high school students ages 14+ who are interested in pursuing a career in dance. Come enjoy an evening of dance with these two impressive Urbanity divisions.
Panel Discussion: Who Can Dance?
February 17 at 6 p.m.
Head to Goethe-Institut Boston for a discussion on diversity, race, and power in dance with the current Thomas Mann House Fellow, German author and journalist Alice Hasters, and Kurt A. Douglas, Professor of Dance at Boston Conservatory. Moderated by Peter DiMuro, executive director of The Dance Complex, this panel asks — Is dance an expression of your own specific identity?
February 18 & 19
The Dance Complex
Enter the dynamic world of Velada Flamenca, a performance that uses the art of flamenco to present a unique vision of our current times. This energizing production features original music and choreography, including world class artists Omayra Amaya (choreographer, dancer, director), Roberto Castellon (flamenco guitarist and composer), Curro Cueto (flamenco singer), Gonzalo Grau (percussionist), and local dancers Sabrina Aviles, Laura Sanchez, and Yu Ling Hu.
Love and Happiness
February 25 & 26
The Dance Complex
Boston natives Billy and Bobby McLain (AKA The Wondertwins) return to Boston with their latest performance, Love and Happiness. The evening features two works, “To Love with Hip-Hop” and “Love,” both focus on how hip-hop can be used as a means of bringing people together, rather than separating them.
— Merli V Guerra
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.
Seven Guitars by August Wilson. Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent. Staged by Actors’ Shakespeare Project at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St #200, Boston, February 8 through March 5.
“In Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District, six friends gather to mourn and reminisce after the untimely death of blues guitarist Floyd ‘Schoolboy’ Barton. As the characters recount Floyd’s last days in 1948, the script spins a tale of what happens when dreams of stardom collide with harsh reality.” Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner has called Wilson’s play a “vast, troubled, complicated drama.” The production features ASP resident acting company members Johnnie Mack and Omar Robinson.
Audience by Václav Havel, translated and directed by Vít Horejš. Staged by the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 East Fourth Street, New York, through February 19.
Yes, this world premiere production is in Manhattan, but it offers a rare opportunity to see a production of play by Václav Havel. Better yet, it is “staged with live actors, giant puppets, and live projected closeups of smaller puppets from security cameras in order to suggest surveillance.” The show’s concept is the brainchild of Vít Horejš and Theresa Linnihan, who act in the play together.
Havel’s autobiographical absurdist comedy “follows Ferdinand Vanek, a distinguished playwright forced to perform manual labor in a brewery because his writings have been banned by the Communist regime. He is repeatedly called into the bleak office of his boss, the brewmaster, who regales him with irksome, circular monologues, washing them down with endless rounds of beer.”
Frankenstein, adapted from the novel by Mary Shelley. Concept and storyboards by Drew Dir. Devised by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, and Julia Miller. A Manual Theatre staging presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Paramount Theatre in the Robert Orchard L Stage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, February 22 through 26.
“Using more than 500 handmade puppets, old school projectors, as well as live actors, a music ensemble and cinematic elements, the Chicago-based performance collective imaginatively stitches together the classic tale of Frankenstein with the biography of its author, Mary Shelley, to create an unexpected story about the beauty and horror of creation. The real-life and fictional narratives of Shelley, Victor Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s monster expose how family, community, and education shape personhood — or destroy it by their absence.”
Alma by Benjamin Benne. Directed by Elena Velasco. Presented by Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, February 23 through March 26.
“2016. Alma and her daughter, Angel, made wishes long ago, among them good health, carne asada, and perfect SAT scores to earn a spot at UC Davis. However, Angel, now 17 and on the eve of that important test, has a different vision of the future.” The question at the center of this conflict: “Who does the American Dream belong to?” Benjamin Benne’s script won the National Latinx Playwriting Award.
a.dick.ted/ OR, learning to breathe underwater; a ritual of lemons. also known as, I love you, I hate you, shut up & tell me everything! [a mostly-true entirely-honest tale of recovery], a solo punk rock epic poem by Teddy Lytle. Directed by Harmon dot aut. Presented by The Wilbury Theatre Group 475 Valley Street, Providence, February 24 through March 4.
“When you can’t remember the single most important event that profoundly changed your life, do you stand a chance at changing for the better? More than a concert, less than a play; a disjointed collection of true events in a semi-interactive multimedia exploration of mental illness, addiction, recovery, and superheroes.”
The Great Leap by Lauren Yee. Directed by Michael Hisamoto. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 40 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, February 24 through March 19.
“It’s 1989 San Francisco and Manford Lum, a gifted, fast-talking teenager, dominates the high school basketball courts. Facing an uncertain future, he convinces Saul, a cynical and crusty coach, to let him travel to Beijing for a “friendship” game in China. Waiting there is a Chinese national coach with unfinished business, both with Saul and with Manford. On the eve of historic demonstrations, all three men are challenged to define their pasts and their futures.” The cast includes Barlow Adamson, Jihan Haddad, and Gary Thomas Ng.
Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury. Directed by Pascale Florestal. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, February 17 through March 11.
A Pulitzer prize-winning comedy: “When the play opens, we meet the Frasiers, a seemingly typical, middle class Black American family trying desperately to make everything perfect for Grandma’s birthday celebration. But not too far into the festivities, we see the Frasiers’ story through a whole new lens.” Dom Carter, Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Yewande Odetoyinbo, and Victoria Omoregie are featured in the cast. CONTENT ADVISORY: Fairview contains adult content & language, racism and racial slurs, and some violence.
A Story Beyond, written and directed by Jason Slavick. Music and Lyrics by Nathan Leigh. Puppetry design and direction, FayeDupras. Staged by Liars & Believers at The Foundry, 101 Rogers St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, February 18 through 25.
A revival of a critically admired show. “A young heroine struggles to save her village from the looming Dark Cloud. The stories we tell create the reality we live, in an original fable told with music, masks, and puppetry. Inspired by folklore from around the world, this is a new fable for our time.”
The Wife of Willesden, adapted by Zadie Smith from Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath” from The Canterbury Tales. Directed by Indhu Rubasingham. Staged by the Kiln Theatre and presented in association with BAM by the American Repertory Theater at the Loeb Drama Center, Harvard Square, Cambridge, February 25 through March 18. Following its North American premiere at the Loeb Drama Center, the production will receive its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) April 1 through 16.
“The Wife of Willesden follows Alvita, a Jamaican-born British woman in her mid-50s, as she tells her life story to a band of strangers in a small pub on the Kilburn High Road. Wearing fake gold chains, dressed in knock-off designer clothes, and speaking in a mixture of London slang and patois, Alvita recalls her five marriages in outrageous, bawdy detail, rewrites her mistakes as triumphs, and shares her beliefs on femininity, sexuality, and misogyny with anyone willing to listen.”
— Bill Marx
According to some accounts, the 13th-century Children’s Crusade, one of the strangest events of medieval Europe, began in 1212 with a German shepherd boy who claimed a vision urged him to lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and end the violence of the crusades. Thousands of children may have traveled to the coast of Italy, hoping to reach Jerusalem, but there is no record that any of them ever did. Disowned by the Pope, many died or were sold into slavery; others, disappointed when the sea didn’t miraculously open for them, just went home. Historians have debated for centuries which parts of the many legends are true. The failed crusade has inspired countless works of art, including novels, paintings, an opera, even popular songs.
Columbia-born artist María Berrío has created her own version of the Children’s Crusade, blending medieval legends with magic, poetry, folklore, and the contemporary mass movements of people, especially child migrants, across the globe. She shapes her large-scale paintings from collaged pieces of Japanese paper and watercolor. María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade opens on February 16 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
Despite Tibet’s remoteness, its exotic culture, and esoteric religious practices, the country’s distinctive and complex art forms have long fascinated outsiders. Across Shared Waters, opening at the Williams College Museum of Art on February 17, explores that attraction by pairing Tantric Buddhist thangka scroll paintings from the Jack Shear collection with works by contemporary artists of Himalayan heritage now living around the world. These art works come in a variety of media, some drawing directly on Buddhist imagery, others working entirely outside that frame.
Marquetry is a classic decorative technique for furniture in which the cabinet maker inlays images, usually natural forms cut from different colors and textures of wood, into the surfaces of cabinets, tables, desks, frames, wall panels, or other pieces. The contemporary artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor uses the difficult medium to illustrate thoroughly modern, often gritty images: a cluttered bathroom, for example, or a kitchen invaded by tree branches. Alison Elizabeth Taylor: The Sum of It, opening at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, February 18, traces the evolution of Taylor’s work with some 40 large-scale panels and a room-sized installation.
40 years ago, near the end of his life, James Baldwin, one of the most influential African-American writers of the 20th century, served a few years as a professor and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, teaching students from across the region’s Five Colleges consortium. Based on an exhibition organized in 2019, God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin, uses work by Richard Avedon, Marlene Dumas, and Kara Walker and Baldwin archival materials “to explore the life, work, and legacy of James Baldwin.” The show opens at Amherst’s Mead Museum on February 24.
Ashley Bryan/ Paula Wilson: Take the World into Your Arms, opening at the Colby College Museum of Art on February 17, combines the work of two artists, from two different generations, who have explored issues of identity and cultural history through paintings, collage, relief printing, bookmaking, clothing, and puppets.
The late Ashley Bryan, who taught art at Dartmouth and retired to Little Cranberry Island, Maine, illustrated more than 50 books, many of which he also wrote. Much of his work deals with the African American experience. In 2009 he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his contributions to children’s literature. Wilson, who was born in Chicago and lives in Carrizozo, New Mexico, uses many of the same graphic media to create much larger-scaled installations and relief constructions, many of them exploring the roles of women of color in art history.
Stranded at home and bored in the summer of 1977, photographer Karl Baden, now a professor at Boston College, took his camera out to Coney Island. Recently rediscovered after more than 45 years, Baden’s images of sun-warmed bodies in brightly colored swimwear are now the subject of this, their first public exhibition: Karl Baden: Coney Island Sleepers, starting February 17 at Boston’s Anderson Yezerski Gallery.
— Peter Walsh
February 13 at 7:30 p.m.
City Winery, Boston
It’s been 50 years since Herbie Hancock put the Headhunters together and created a whole new brand of jazz-funk. Original bassist Paul Jackson died last year, and saxophonist/clarinetist Bennie Maupin is no longer with the band, but drummer Mike Clark and percussionist Bill Summers are heading out on this 50th-anniversary tour with a man versed in all manner of deep funk, New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison, as well as bassist Chris Severin and pianist Kyle Roussel.
February 14 at 7 and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The fine vocalist Shawn Monteiro, singing a mix of familiar and lesser-known American Songbook standards, hosts this Valentine’s Day show with an excellent trio: pianist Tim Ray, bassist Dave Zinno, and drummer Yoron Israel. (Yes, dinner packages are available.)
Point01 Presents . . .
February 14 at 7:30 p.m.
The monthly Point01 residency brings together two intriguing ensembles for a night of improvised music. At 7:30, it’s pianist Tatiana Castro Mejia, bassist Brittany Karlson, drummer Eric Rosenthal, and Andrew Neumann on electronics. At 8:30, it’s the trio of saxophonist Dan O’Brien, pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, and bassist Nathan McBride. Point01 is always different — these particular configurations of well-known musicians are new to me. Which makes the night all the more promising.
February 16 at 8 p.m.
Harvard-Epworth Church, Cambridge
For this edition of his monthly “Third Thursday” residency at Harvard-Epworth Church, keyboardist and composer Dave Bryant will feature his colleague from Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time band, drummer James Kamal Jones. They will be joined by trumpeter Greg Hopkins, guitarist Giovanni Moltoni, and bassist Rick McLaughlin.
Jason Moran and the Big Bandwagon
February 17 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
The pianist and composer Jason Moran has been expanding his scope in recent years with a variety of multimedia projects (often in collaboration with his wife, the singer Alicia Hall). His latest work can be heard on From the Dancehall to the Battlefield, described as a “meditation on the life and legacy of James Reese Europe,” a pioneering Black bandleader and World War I veteran who, with his 369th Infantry Regiment (the “Harlem Hellfighters”), “is credited with introducing jazz music to the European continent and helping spread African American culture across the world.” For this show, Moran will use “archival photos, recordings, and original multimedia creations to help build his musical monument to a truly transformational artist.” The music will meld arrangements from the Europe book with pieces by Moran, Albert Ayler, Pauline Olivieros, and others. The live band will augment Moran’s outstanding Bandwagon Trio (bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits): alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, tubist Jose Davila, flute and clarinet player Darryl Harper, trumpeter David Adewumi, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, and trombonists Reginal Cyntje and Chris Bates.
New England Jazz Collaborative
February 17 at 8 p.m.
Longy School of Music, Cambridge
The relatively new collaborative of New England jazz composers present this very promising concert, title “Unplayed/Unheard,” with compositions by Sam Spear, Darryl Harper, Eric Hofbauer, Matan Rubinstein, Jeremy Cohen, Jason Robinson, and Randy Pingrey. In this case, the pieces will be played by a formidable collection of musicians: saxophonists Allan Chase, Sam Spear, Felipe Salles, Ian Buss, and Melanie Brooks-Howell; trumpeters Mike Peipman, Mark Tipton, Miranda Agnew, and Phil Grenadier; trombonists Chris Gagne, Randy Pingrey, Joey Dies, and Bill Lowe; guitarist Eric Hofbauer; pianist Ana Petrova, bassist Bob Nieske, and drummer Yoron Israel, all under the direction of guest conductor Ken Schaphorst. It’s free, but advance tickets are required, available through the NEJC site.
February 17 at 8 p.m.
Bull Run, Shirley, MA
Guitarist Stephane Wrembel is among the few musicians who have become obsessed with the music of Django Reinhardt and somehow manage to emerge with something original. Wremble’s latest addition to his multivolume Django Experiment is “Django New Orleans.” He’ll be playing that program at the Bull Run (with an album to follow, in May) with a band that includes rhythm guitarist Josh Kaye, bassist Ari Folman-Cohen, and drummer Nick Anderson.
Revolutionary Snake Ensemble
February 18 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
The New Orleans second-line-inspired Revolutionary Snake Ensemble brings its umpteenth Mardi Gras celebration into Scullers with some superb guests: the first-call New Orleans saxophonist and flutist Amadee Castenell (Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, Chocolate Milk, among many others) and the wonderful New Orleans singer Henri Smith. They join the regular RSE crew of saxophonist/bandleader Ken Field, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, trombone and tuba man Dave Harris, bassist Blake Newman, drummer Phil Neighbors.
Rebirth Brass Band
February 22 at 8 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom, Somerville
What better way to celebrate Ash Wednesday than with New Orleans’s hard-driving Rebirth Brass Band. (Hey, just pretend it’s yesterday.) This is powerhouse party music, delivered with peerless expertise, in an up-to-the-minute blend of funk, jazz, and hip-hop. Lots of New Orleans brass bands do this — no one does it better.
Mark Shilansky-Rich Greenblatt
February 25 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Any album that begins with something called “Stuck on Storrow” and finishes 10 songs later with Horace Silver’s “Opus de Funk” already had my vote. It helps that Green Sky, the new disc from vibraphonist Rich Greenblatt and pianist Mark Shilansky delivers masterful post-bop throughout, including a couple more standards, John Scofield’s “I’ll Catch You,” and the balance by the two leaders (including Shilansky’s “Boss Her Nove Her,” deferring all questions of Brazilian authenticity). The two well-traveled Berklee profs are joined by the band from the album: bassist Greg Toro, drummer Mike Connors, guitarist Nick Grondin, and Pete Kenagy on trumpet and flugelhorn.
The Bad Plus/Marc Ribot
February 25 at 8 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom, Somerville, MA
Perennial bad boys the Bad Plus have shifted from their longstanding format as a very unconventional piano trio to a pianoless quartet, with saxophonist Chris Speed and guitarist Ben Monder having joined founding members Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums). Opening (we presume) is the brilliant, protean guitarist Marc Ribot. For this outing, he’s fronting the Jazz-Bins, with Greg Lewis on Hammond-B3 organ and drummer Chad Taylor. Expect a wild take on organ-trio grooves.
The Coalition of the Willing
February 25 at 8 p.m.
Longtime Boston-area bandleader and pianist David Haas leads his free-leaning Coalition of the Willing, an excellent ensemble of improvisers: guitarist Kevin Frenette, trumpeter Scott Getchell, bass clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Todd Brunel, clarinetist Glenn Dickson, drummer Joe Musacchia, and Kit Demos on bass and modular synthesizer.
February 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
As a player, bassist Michael Formanek has been touring professionally since he was a teenager (with Tony Williams and Joe Henderson). These days, he’s seen most often with Thumbscrew (with guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara) and his own bands. As a composer, he has been pushing jazz composition forward — combining form and freedom in engaging, startling ways, usually in small ensembles. But his 2016 ECM release The Distance, with his 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, was one of the best jazz releases of that year and one of the best large-ensemble jazz recordings of any year. At this NEC show, he’ll being leading the NEC players in his compositions, first playing in a quartet and then, after the interval, conducting the NEC Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra in pieces that will include “The Distance.” There’s also an open masterclass at 2 p.m. in Jordan’s Eben Ensemble Room. It’s all free, but tickets are required.
— Jon Garelick
February 17 at 8 p.m.
Longy School of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge
Concert is FREE, but tickets are required in advance using this link.
A evening of new music (7 of them) for jazz orchestra by the New England Jazz Collaborative, featuring an eclectic group of the finest composers and musicians in the region. Guest Conductor: Ken Schaphorst. Composers: Sam Spear, Darryl Harper, Eric Hofbauer, Matan Rubinstein, Jeremy Cohen, Jason Robinson, Randy Pingrey.
— Bill Marx
Thibaudet plays Saint-Saëns
Presented by Boston Symphony Orchestra
February 16 at 7:30 p.m., 17 at 1:30 p.m., and 18 at 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins the BSO for Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Meanwhile, conductor Lahav Shani makes his anticipated Symphony Hall debut, leading further pieces by Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff.
Presented by Handel & Haydn Society
February 17 at 7:30 p.m. and 19 at 3 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston (on Friday) and Sanders Theatre, Cambridge (Sunday)
Aislinn Nosky and Ian Watson team up to lead H&H through a traversal of J.S. Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos. Both concerts are currently sold out, but tickets may become available.
Presented by New England Philharmonic
February 18, 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
The NEP returns to action with a series of local and/or world premieres: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Thank You Notes for Richard Pittman, Kareem Roustom’s Ramal, Elijah Daniel Smith’s Wraith Weight, and Matthew Aucoin’s Two Dances (in a new arrangement for orchestra). Rounding out the night are Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.
Alexi Kenney in recital
Presented by Celebrity Series
February 22, 8 p.m.
Pickman Hall, Cambridge
Violinist Kenney makes his Celebrity Series debut with a program that pairs selections from Bach’s unaccompanied Sonatas & Partitas with contemporary pieces by Reena Esmail, Paul Wiancko, Samuel Adams, and others.
Presented by Boston Philharmonic Orchestra
February 24, 8 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic continue their season with a single performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Soloists Liv Redpath, Ashley Dixon, Nicholas Phan, and Alfred Walker join the Philharmonic, as do Chorus Pro Musica and Boston University’s Marsh Chapel Choir. The program repeats two nights later at Carnegie Hall.
Aaron Larget-Caplan plays Bach
Presented by Robbins Library
February 26, 3 p.m.
Robbins Library, Arlington
Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan plays music by Bach, John Cage, and others in a free recital in Arlington. Arts Fuse review of Larget-Caplan’s latest album.
Bach’s B-minor Mass
Presented by Cantata Singers
February 26, 4 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge
The Cantata Singers present Bach’s towering liturgical setting at Sanders Theatre. The ensemble’s new music director, Noah Horn, conducts.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble: A Valentine to Contemporary Musical Arts
February 14 at 7:30 p. m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
Free: this is an in-person event with a public live stream.
“The NEC Wind Ensembles are first in line when given a chance to celebrate music making across disciplines. This concert brings together musicians of the Wind Ensemble and the CMA departments as we celebrate together the 50th anniversary of CMA at NEC. CMA instrumentalists join the Wind Ensemble to play Hankus Netsky’s Klezmer Nonantum Bulgar and Michael Gandolfi’s landmark Vientos y Tangos variations. CMA vocalists provide old-time New England shape note singing as prelude to William Schuman’s arrangements of Chester and When Jesus Wept. Thomas Duffy joins us from Yale for his crossing genres Three Places in New Haven. Rounding out the program is a touch of Spain in Rodrigo’s touching Adagio. ”
New England Conservatory Chamber Singers and Symphonic Winds
February 16 at 7:30 p. m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
Free: this is an in-person event with a public livestream.
“NEC Chamber Singers and Symphonic Winds perform excerpts from Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, conducted by William Drury and featuring alumnae Patrice Williamson, vocalist, and pianist Helen Sung. Also on the program is Jean Françaix’s Sept Danses, conducted by Iverson Eliopoulos ’23 MM, and a set for jazz trio performed by Helen Sung, piano, Kristofer Monson, bass, and Caleb Montague, drums.”
— Steve Elman
Roots and World Music
Crystal Ballroom at the Somerville Theatre
There’s a lot of impressive music coming out of Scotland’s folk world right now, but few groups have reached the creative heights of Talisk. This performance by the instrumental trio, which sounds like a much larger band, is being presented by Global Arts Live. The musicians will make use of the standing room and limited table seating configuration at the Crystal Ballroom, an ideal setting for giving the audience plenty of opportunities to bask in Talisk’s considerable energy.
Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club, Portsmouth, NH
The appearance of Grand Ole Opry member Mandy Barnett at a jazz room isn’t as shocking as it may seem on the surface. Long the queen of Nashville torch singing, Barnett devoted her 2022 LP Every Star Above to the rather ambitious task of covering Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the late legendary arranger Sammy Nestico, the session’s lush strings and unengaging vocals drift into easy listening territory. The passion that drives Holiday’s — and most of Barnett’s — recordings is missing. Let’s hope that, with a smaller combo and perhaps a bit more of her trademark twang, Barnett will make a stronger emotional connection in this rare New England appearance. The 7 p.m. show is all but sold out, so a 9:30 p.m.. show has been added.
The Crank-tones featuring Sax Gordon with The Fathoms
Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA, 4 p.m.
The roots trio known as the Crank-tones always swing a bit more than most of their rockabilly peers, so it’s fitting that their special guest will be the charismatic hornman “Sax” Gordon Beadle. Kicking off the matinee at one of Boston’s last great dive bars will be Crank-tones guitarist Frankie Balidino’s surf outfit The Fathoms, whose trio of long out-of-print CDs have happily resurfaced on Bandcamp.
Masters of Hawaiian Music
February 19, 5 and 8 p.m.
Club Passim, Cambridge
If the recent blast of arctic air has you dreaming of warmer climates, here’s a musical tonic from three of the greats of Hawaii’s slack key guitar and ukulele traditions: George Kahumoku Jr., Herb Ohta Jr., and Sonny Lim.
Oceanside Events Center, Revere, MA
The superstar Brazilian drag queen Pabllo Vittar often cites the divas of the benga (“tacky”) and calypso pop bands to be among their key childhood influences. Maybe the biggest of these unabashedly glitzy Northeast Brazilian horn bands was Banda Calypso — until their front woman Joelma and her husband Ximbinha split up both personally and creatively. Now solo, she’ll be bringing her high heels and big hair to an adoring Brazilian diaspora audience.
Beth Bahia Cohen
An invaluable addition to the local cultural scene — and it’s free! The Boston Festival of New Jewish Music continues with master violinist Beth Bahia Cohen, who is renowned in both Greek and Jewish music circles. Calling her program “Music of the Jewish World: From Turkey to the Middle East and Brooklyn, NY,” Cohen will be joined by Tev Stevig on oud and mizrapli (plucked) tanbur.
Jordan Hall, Boston
My Arts Fuse colleague Steve Elman recently previewed some of the upcoming concerts that take place in what he calls the “Place Between.” That space is often somewhere between jazz and classical, but it can also sit in between classical and traditional folk music. A great example of the latter is served up by Dreamers’ Circus, a genre-smashing trio from Scandinavia. Violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, pianist and accordionist Nikolaj Busk, and Nordic cittern (lute) player Ale Carr make music that is difficult to categorize but is always enlightening. They appear for the Celebrity Series at a show that should be more than worth the (Covid-rescheduling) wait.
Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars
Berklee Performance Center
The Afro-Cuban All Stars have become a staple of the Global Arts Live calendar, and with good reason. More than just a great Cuban dance band — which they certainly are — the All Stars boast the unique sounds of the vibraphone and the bass clarinet along with the expected horns and percussion.
Bill’s Bar, Boston
Best known as the frontman for Black Uhuru in their Sly and Robbie-produced golden era, Rose is one of reggae’s most captivating live performers. For his first Boston visit in four years he’ll be backed by the Inner Higher Heights Band at a special edition of the weekly Reggae Takeova.
— Noah Schaffer
Tsitsi Dangarembga at Harvard Book Store
Black and Female: Essays
February 13 at 7 p.m.
“At once philosophical, intimate, and urgent, Black and Female is a powerful testimony of the pervasive and long-lasting effects of racism and patriarchy that provides an ultimately hopeful vision for change. Black feminists are ‘the status quo’s worst nightmare.’ Dangarembga writes, ‘our conviction is deep, bolstered by a vivid imagination that reminds us that other realities are possible beyond the one that obtains.'”
Jarvis R. Givens at Harvard Book Store
School Clothes: A Collective Memoir of Black Student Witness and Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching
February 10 at 7 p.m.
“Black students were forced to live and learn on the Black side of the color line for centuries, through the time of slavery, Emancipation, and the Jim Crow era. And for just as long — even through to today — Black students have been seen as a problem and a seemingly troubled population in America’s public imagination.
“Through over 100 firsthand accounts from the 19th and 20th centuries, Professor Jarvis Givens offers a powerful counter-narrative in School Clothes to challenge such dated and prejudiced story lines. He details the educational lives of writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison; political leaders like Mary McLeod Bethune, Malcolm X, and Angela Davis; and Black students whose names are largely unknown but who left their marks nonetheless.”
Tell-All Boston Presents: Readings on Love at Porter Square Books
February 15 at 7 p.m.
“Join us on February 15 — the day after Valentine’s Day — for an evening celebrating writing on love, in all its forms. The evening’s program will feature work from five writers, including editor Alexander Chee and contributor Aube Rey Lescure of The Best American Essays 2022. Other writers to be featured will have been selected from an open call for submissions.
Tell-All Boston is Boston’s only live-on-stage literary reading series dedicated to the craft of memoir and personal essay. After two years of virtual readings, Tell-All Boston is excited to be back with an in-person event, brought to you by the alumni of GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator and Essay Incubator, co-sponsored by GrubStreet and Porter Square Books. For our February 15 event, we are excited to highlight GrubStreet Novel Incubator alum Aube Rey Lescure as one of our special guest readers.”
Megan Buskey at Harvard Book Store
Ukraine Is Not Dead Yet: A Family Story of Exile and Return
February 20 at 7 p.m.
“When Megan Buskey’s grandmother Anna dies in Cleveland in 2013, Megan is compelled in her grief to uncover and document her grandmother’s life as a native of Ukraine. A Ukrainian American, Buskey returns to her family’s homeland and enlists her relatives there to help her in her quest — and discovers much more than she expected. The result is an extraordinary journey that traces one woman’s story across Ukraine’s difficult 20th century, from a Galician village emerging from serfdom, to the ‘bloodlands’ of Eastern Europe during World War II, to the Siberian hinterlands where Anna spent almost two decades in exile before receiving the rare opportunity to emigrate from the Soviet Union in the 1960s.”
At WBUR CitySpace: Brian Stelter – brookline booksmith
February 21 at 6:30 p.m.
“As the nation recovers from the Trump presidency, many questions remain: Why was the COVID-19 pandemic so grossly mishandled? How did we get so politically polarized? What caused white nationalist groups to come out of the shadows, and are they here to stay?
The answers lie in the twisted story of the relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News. Through firsthand accounts from over 250 current and former Fox insiders, CNN anchor and chief media correspondent Brian Stelter unlocks the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s multibillion-dollar media empire. The confessions are shocking: “We don’t really believe all this stuff,” a producer says. “We just tell other people to believe it.”
Naomi Oreskes at Harvard Book Store
The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market
February 22 at 7 p.m.
“In their bestselling book Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway revealed the origins of climate change denial. Now, they unfold the truth about another disastrous dogma: the “magic of the marketplace.” By the ’70s, this propaganda was succeeding. Free market ideology would define the next half-century across Republican and Democratic administrations, giving us a housing crisis, the opioid scourge, climate destruction, and a baleful response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Only by understanding this history can we imagine a future where markets will serve, not stifle, democracy.”
The Greatest Athlete in American History: Jim Thorpe or Bo Jackson? Two Authors Debate at Porter Square Books
February 23 at 6 p.m.
“Some say that Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) was America’s greatest all-around athlete: a gold medalist at the 1912 Olympics in the decathlon and pentathlon; a star on the Carlisle Indian School’s football team and the first class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and a major league baseball player for John McGraw’s New York Giants.
“Others say Bo Jackson (b. 1962) tops the chart of all-time greats: the first person to simultaneously star in two major professional sports — and the only one to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football. Bo Jackson was a Heisman Trophy winner and a pop culture phenomenon. Despite their vast skills, both struggled against racism, both accomplished great things and reached stardom the American way: on the field of competition. Hear from two acclaimed writers, also super fans, about these remarkable athletes. Then cast your vote for who is the greatest athlete in American history!”
Ice Cream Story Hour with Honeycomb Creamery! at Porter Square Books
February 24 at 10 a.m.
“Porter Square Books is delighted to partner with Honeycomb Creamery to present a special Ice Cream Story Hour with PSB Bookseller Kendall! We’re bringing a selection of some of our favorite dessert-themed kids’ books and Honeycomb Creamery is providing the desserts, freshly baked cookies and freshly scooped ice cream from their small-batch craft ice cream. It’s the perfect pairing to read with The Smart Cookie and other selected titles!
Story hour will be hosted at 10 a.m. on February 24 at Honeycomb Creamery’s storefront (1702 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge). Spaces are limited, so you will need to RSVP to secure your spot at story hour, your complimentary sweet treat from Honeycomb Creamery, and a 20% coupon to Porter Square Books eligible for in-store purchases only!”
Dr. Farzon Nahvi with Gabrielle Emanuel at brookline booksmith
Code Gray: Death, Life, and Uncertainty in the ER
February 28 at 7 p.m.
“In the tradition of books by such bestselling physician-authors as Atul Gawande, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Danielle Ofri, this beautifully written memoir by an emergency room doctor takes place during one of his routine shifts at an urban ER.” Farzon Nahvi’s intimate narration follows the experiences of real patients and is filled with fascinating, adrenaline-pumping scenes of rescues and deaths, and the critical, often excruciating follow-through in caring for the patients’ families.”
— Matt Hanson
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