Coming Attractions: September 24 through October 9 — What Will Light Your Fire
Our expert critics supply a guide to film, dance, visual art, theater, author readings, and music. More offerings will be added as they come in.
Boston Film Festival
Virtual Program – through September 30
The 39th edition of the BFF live program will occur across numerous venues.
The opening film, Breakwater,will be followed by the Honor for Film Excellence Award to the film’s featured performer, Dermot Mulroney, at the Shalin Liu Performance Hall.
A Lifetime Achievement Award for Treat Williams will be accepted by his wife Pam Van Sant and his son Gil Williams following the film premiere of American Outlaws at Paramount Theatre, Bright Family Screening Room.
The Spotlight film is the documentary Healing Dakota from local, first-time director James LaMonte. It is about the rehabilitation of a service dog with PTSD, a real life story that inspired the establishment of a nonprofit K9 PTSD Center on Cape Cod. A Q&A with the director follows.
American Outlaws directed by Sean McEwen is this year’s centerpiece feature screening. It is based on the true story of the Dougherty siblings, three desperate youths who took matters into their own hands via a cross country crime spree. Full Schedule
September 27 – October 4
Coolidge Corner Theater in Cambridge (Opening)
Paramount Theater in Boston
The annual CineFest Latino Boston (LLC) highlights stories by and about Latinos. LLC uses film to break stereotypes, bring cultures and communities together, and reveal the complex issues affecting the Latinx community in the United States, Latin America, and Spain. Schedule of Events and Films
RPM Fest Presents Solo Artist: Vincent Grenier
September 27 at 7 p.m
Brattle Theater in Cambridge
This mini-retrospective program series is made up of short experimental films by Vincent Grenier. This event will showcase 11 pieces spanning his impressive five-decade-long cinematic practice: “My work is fascinated by contingencies: digressive moments, unbalanced spaces, asymmetrical compositions, revealing details, incongruous recordings, and unexpected linkages between form and meaning”.
The 26th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival
September 28th thru October 4th
Regent Theater in Arlington
This is the only film festival in the world that unfolds simultaneously via screenings in more than 500 cinemas on six continents. Schedule of Screenings.
She, Who Dared
October 8 at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Composer Ian Rashkin, and Boston-based conductor Sebastian Baverstam & the Vangarde Symphony Orchestra present a multimedia experience along with trailers that chronicle up-and-coming independent projects. The main event is a test-screening of She, Who Dared, a narrative short drama about Lois Weber, who was the first American woman to establish and to run her own movie studio. She lost her pwer and position after the release of her controversial 1921 film, What Do Men Want?. Festivities kick off at 2 p.m. with photos, networking, and more. A Q&A will follow the film.
Trenque Lauquen, Part I
Harvard Film Archives
October 8 at 7 p.m.
Trenque Lauquen, Part II
Harvard Film Archives
October 9 at 7 p.m.
Trenque Lauquen, Part I and II
Harvard Film Archives
October 10 at 7 p.m.
Director Laura Citarella takes viewers on a journey through stories nested within stories that are set in and around the Argentinean city of Trenque Lauquen (“Round Lake”). It is centered on the strange disappearance of a local academic named Laura (Laura Paredes). Through initial inquiries by two colleagues — older boyfriend Rafael and a driver named Ezequiel with whom Laura had grown secretly close –we learn about her recent discoveries, including a new, unclassified species of flower and a series of old love letters hidden at the local library. These are clues that may help track her down. Yet as flashbacks and anecdotes pile up, we — and the film’s intrepid investigators — begin to realize that this intricately structured tale is larger and stranger than we could have imagined. Trenque Lauquen is told in 12 chapters spread across two feature films. (Lincoln Center)
Pick of the Week
Vimeo On-Demand (link in title)
Amazon Prime ($9.99)
Samuel is young orphan sent to live with his foster parents. They are unhappy with the child but are struggling financially and earn money from the state for his upkeep. Samuel battles his own demons: the death of his father at the hands of police, an unclear issue with his mother, abuse within members of his foster family, and behavioral issues, most notably encopresis. He has a growing skill in gymnastics and begins an awkward relationship with a pubescent local girl. This observational profile of childhood plays out patiently amidst gorgeous scenes of the French countryside. This is a mesmerizing and intense film that concludes with a stunning impressionistic montage. It is a mystery why this superb French feature, which was an official selection of New Directors/New Films, has not received wide release. Highly recommended.
— Tim Jackson
Roots and World Music
The Bluegrass Album Band was an all-star configuration of bluegrass pickers who every few years would go into the studio and come up with their takes on traditional bluegrass classics. The new supergroup Mighty Poplar is like a “Bluegrass Album Band” for today’s generation of stars – except they’re also going on the road. Punch Brothers banjo player Noam Pikelny and guitarist Chris Eldridge, Leftover Salmon bassist Greg Garrison, Watchhouse mandolinst Andrew Marlin, and Billy Strings fiddler Alex Hargreaves will be making their Boston debut.
Composer, singer, and oudist Basel Zayed is one of those musicians who enhances every group he’s in. Now he’s started a new project devoted to what he calls Palestinian jazz, which focuses on dabkeh dance rhythm.
Fred Wesley with the BT ALC Big Band
Soundcheck Studios, Pembroke
Corporate Park Drive in Pembroke may not be the first place you’d look to have a “Funky Good Time,” but you better believe one will be found on Friday night. Fred Wesley’s key contributions to the golden years of James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic might make him the most important trombonist of all time. He’s unquestionably the most sampled. At 80 Wesley still has his chops, and he’ll be the very special guest of the mighty and always funky BT ALC Big Band.
— Noah Schaffer
— Bill Marx
COVID PROTOCOLS: Check with specific theaters.
Lunar Eclipse by Donald Margulies. Directed by James Warwick. Staged by Shakespeare and Company at the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, Lenox, through October 22.
“On a summer night, in the middle of a field on their midwest farm, a long-married couple sits on folding chairs to observe the seven stages of a lunar eclipse. While watching the celestial phenomenon unfold, the two sip bourbon and reflect on land and legacy, on children and dogs, and the accelerating passage of time.” Karen Allen and Reed Birney play the meditative couple in the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Margulies
2216: The Remix of a Global Experiment, written and directed by JaMario Stills. Staged by the Wilbury Theatre Group inside the WaterFire Arts Center, 475 Valley Street, Providence, Rhode Island, September 28 through October 15.
This world premiere is an “immersive and thought-provoking theatrical experience that weaves together personal narratives, historical truths, and futuristic possibilities. 2216 explores the lives of an ensemble of actors representing nationalities around the globe as they create and reenact a new world doctrine that connects and transcends time, and invites the audience to reflect on their own roles in shaping the groups experience and challenges them to actively participate in a hilarious, and sometimes tragic, ongoing journey.”
We Are the Land written and staged by Wampanoag Nation / from Wampanoag Nation. Presented by Arts Emerson at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, September 29 and 30.
“The Wampanoag people have been stewarding their land for over 10,000 years across several eastern states, including Massachusetts. After colonization, their voice was silenced. We Are The Land is part pageant, part play, where audiences will hear directly from Wampanoag people telling their story of their relationship to the soil, how it was taken away, and how the nation has re-established themselves in a way that both honors their ancestors and looks toward the future.” To create this production, a multi-talented cast of Wampanoag artists, actors, historians and storytellers have collaborated with Siobhan Brown, Hartman Deetz, and Kitty Hendricks.
Wish You Were Here by Sanaz Toossi. Directed by Sivan Battat. Staged by Yale Rep at Yale Repertory Theatre, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven, October 5 through 28.
“It’s 1978 and protests are breaking out across Iran, encroaching on the suburb where a tight-knit circle of girlfriends plans weddings, trades dirty jokes, and tries to hang onto a sense of normalcy. But as the forces of revolution escalate, each woman must choose whether to join a wave of emigration or to remain in their country, where the future is uncertain. With breathtaking humanity and cutting wit, 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner Sanaz Toossi chronicles a decade of life during and after war, as best friends forever become friends long lost — scattered and searching for home.”
Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches/ Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika by Tony Kushner. Staged by the Central Square Theatre, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, through October 8. Both parts playing in rep
“The mid-1980s. America. The acclaimed play careens from New York City to Heaven and back in the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration.” Bedlam Artistic Director Eric Tucker brought his signature, pared-down approach to this production last season, which is being reprised before it joins Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika in rep on September 14. Arts Fuse review of Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches.
Assassins Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Courtney O’Connor. Staged by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston at 140 Clarendon Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, through October 15.
“With the American dream out of reach, nine of the most notorious figures in our nation’s history ignite a chain of monumental nightmares. The white picket fence is set on fire in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical, which peers inside the shattered minds of presidential assassins (both successful and failed) from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley, Jr. This gallery of historical misfits jolts us into their blurry points of view with unapologetic humor, fiery anthems, carefree tunes, and unbridled energy that boldly blurs the lines between ambition and madness.”
Ulysses, an adaptation of James Joyce’s novel, created by Elevator Repair Service. Directed by John Collins. Co-Direction and Dramaturgy by Scott Shepherd. A Fisher Center LAB Commission/World Premiere at the Fisher Center at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson NY, through October 1.
“Seven performers sit down for a sober reading but soon find themselves guzzling pints, getting in brawls, and committing debaucheries as they careen on a fast-forward tour through Joyce’s funhouse of styles.” Elevator Repair Service’s theatrical reading of all of The Great Gatsby was terrific, so I have high hopes for this ambitious undertaking.
POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger. Directed by Paula Plum. Staged by SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theater, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through October 15.
A New England premiere. “It’s The Women meets House of Cards in comedy that celebrates the women who keep things running behind the scenes both in — and out — of the Oval Office. Seven brilliant and beleaguered women in the president’s inner circle take increasing desperate measures to save the country when his sexist and sex-related scandals spark a global crisis.” Entertainment Weekly said that “Fillinger’s script views politics behind-the-scenes as a twisted carnival, a zany, mad ride that you might never want to get off.”
The Good John Proctor by Talene Monahon. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Running in rep with Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by Curt Columbus. Staged by Trinity Repertory Company at the Dowling Theater, 201 Washington Street, Providence Rhode Island. Schedule: The Good John Proctor, September 28 through November 12. Becky Nurse of Salem, September 21 through November 10.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has inspired a pair of feminist revisionist visions. The Good John Proctor “reexamines the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of the four young girls at its center.” Becky Nurse of Salem centers on “Becky Nurse, a modern descendant of an executed Salem ‘witch.’ She’s been fired from her job, troubled by her granddaughter’s boyfriend, is pining for a married man, and taking pain pills to cope after her daughter’s overdose. To reverse her bad fortune, she consults an eccentric local witch … leading to shocking, funny, and even disturbing results.”
Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Loretta Greco. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company at 264 Huntington Ave. Boston, through October 8.
“It’s 2016 Paris. The Salomon family has worked hard to make Paris into a warm and wonderful home after settling down in the turbulent 1940s. But when their son comes home beaten up because he was wearing a yarmulke, they are forced to question their safety and sense of belonging in the city they love. Artistic Director Loretta Greco directs Joshua Harmon’s play, having originally produced a workshop of it at the Magic Theatre prior to its New York debut in 2022.” Arts Fuse review
Fat Ham by James Ijames. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb. Staged by the Huntington Theatre Company in association with Alliance Theatre and Front Porch Arts Collective at the Calderwood/BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, through October 29.
In this Pulitzer Prize-winning script, a playful variation on Hamlet, “the sweet and sensitive Juicy wants to make his own way as a queer Black man growing up in a Southern family, until his father’s ghost turns up at a backyard barbecue and insists that Juicy avenge his murder. Ay, there’s the rub!”
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. Staged by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Modern Theatre at Suffolk University, 525 Washington Street, Boston, through October 1.
“After a long night of drinking, disruption, and harassing barmaids, Christopher Sly finds himself trapped in the worst of predicaments: a stage play. Thrown into the role of “The Shrew,” he tumbles headfirst into a world of witty wordplay, leering suitors, and the full force of the oppressive patriarchy. As the rest of the all-female/non-binary ensemble constructs the zany world of Padua around him, will Sly learn the error of his ways?” Sounds like a gender fluid re-write of John Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize, or the Tamer Tamed, a Jacobean comedy that challenged some of the gender stereotypes in Shakespeare’s comedy.
T: An MBTA Musical, written by Mike Manship (book) and Melissa Carubia (music and lyrics). At the Rockwell, Davis Square, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, September 29, October 6 and 20, November 3 and 17, and December 1.
The show “chronicles the journey of three struggling Bostonians whose lives have been derailed by the MBTA’s incompetency. When they discover a secret map that will enable them to overthrow the transit system’s inefficiency, they set forth on a colorful journey that is part love story, part melodrama, part scavenger hunt, all one big transportation nightmare.” The script and score are updated seasonally to reflect current events and the latest MBTA struggles. Note: Limited on-the-train tickets are also available for each performance, where audience members can join an eccentric cast of T riders and personnel on stage as part of the action.
Just Tell No One, site-specific, multimedia staged readings. Directed by Igor Golyak. Staged by the Arlekin Players Theatre at 368 Hillside Ave, Needham, October 6 through 14.
A theatrical evening director Golyak put together using excerpts from three plays by female Ukrainian playwrights (Bad Roads by Natal’ya Vorozhbit, translated by Sasha Dugsdale, Three Rendezvous by Natal’ya Vorozhbit, translated by John Freedman with Natalia Bratus, and Just Tell No One from the full-length play Night Devours Morning by Oksana Savchenko, translated by John Freedman). It was first presented by Lincoln Center in March 2023 in a site-specific, multimedia staged reading that featured Jessica Hecht, Bill Irwin, and David Krumholz. It was then shared for one performance in the Maso Studio at the Huntington Theatre. Arlekin now presents a new iteration of the piece in a series of intimate fundraising salons in their studio. The cast will include members of the Arlekin resident acting company, guests Daniel Boudreau and Lucas Boniface, along with Boston favorites Anne Gottlieb, Benjamin Evett, and Robert Walsh.
Honk!, a wide variety of musical/ activist events planned in Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston, October 6 through 8. Held outdoors rain or shine. Free and open to all.
The 18th edition of this indispensable musical, political, and revved-up spectacular. “The current count is at 33 bands, with this year’s participants hailing from all across the United States. With memberships as big as 30 players, many of this year’s festival participants will travel some distance (for example, from Georgia, Texas, California, Washington, Colorado) to join in this annual uproariously jubilant purposeful gathering held during Indigenous Peoples Day weekend.”
“What is HONK! exactly, one might ask? HONK! is a very unique musical movement that first began right here in Somerville back in 2006. Out of those humble beginnings, HONK! has become a recognizable worldwide phenomenon that warrants its own wiki. HONK! is about making a meaningful noise: “At full power, these bands create an irresistible spectacle of creative movement and sonic self-expression directed at making the world a better place. This is the movement we call HONK! striving in a HONK!-like manner to help make the world a better place.
What HONK! is NOT is all that impatient racket that erupts when stuck in Boston’s incessant traffic jams. HONK! is NOT about get out of my way!”
— Bill Marx
As a society portrait painter, John Singer Sargent created huge controversies, probably deliberately, with some of his most famous works, including one that got so out of hand it nearly ended his career. Oddly, on closer examination, the uproar was often more about what his subjects wore and how they wore it than either the sitter or Sargent’s likeness. This was surely no accident: Sargent took as much care with his sitters apparel as with how they posed. He often chose their clothes and, even if they arrived in his studio already dressed in the latest fashions, could still simplify and alter key details. “The coat is the picture,” he told one of his sitters.
As if created for our age of social media, personal branding, and fashion consultants, Fashioned by Sargent, opening at the Museum of Fine Arts on October 8, uses 50 paintings and more than a dozen garments and accessories to reveal “Sargent’s power over his sitters’ images” by using their clothes “to express distinctive personalities, social positions, professions, gender identities, and nationalities.” The show includes some of the artist’s most famous and socially unsettling works, among them the notorious Madame X and the sensuous Dr. Pozzi at Home.
The Caribbean, which includes over 700 islands, large and small, and some adjacent land areas, has one of the most complicated histories in the Western Hemisphere. Site of the first contacts between Europeans and native New World populations, the region has been a major center for east-west trade, especially the slave trade. The islands’ sugar, produced exclusively with slave labor, was the source of enormous wealth for white plantation owners. It has also been an enduring platform for competition between Western empires and for revolutions against them, home to widely diverse ethnic communities, and a land of idyllic tropical resorts beloved of well-healed tourists. Since the mid-20th century, Caribbean islands have also been the source of extensive out-migration, especially to the United Kingdom, where Caribbeans were recruited to fill post-war labor shortages.
Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s – Today, which opens at the ICA on October 5, looks at yet another cultural development from the region: the entry of artists of Caribbean origins into the international art market. With works by 28 artists with connections to the region, the show seeks to reveal “new ways of understanding the Caribbean as a place defined not by geography, language, or ethnicity, but by constant exchange, displacement, and movement.”
With a career spanning decades, Faith Ringgold is one of the best known and most established African-American contemporary artists, known particularly for textile works and vivid story-telling that celebrate African-American culture and activism. Built around the Worcester Art Museum’s major Ringgold work, Picasso’s Studio (1991), Faith Ringgold: Freedom to Say What I Please includes 16 objects: textiles, sculptures, paintings, and prints. The title was inspired by Ringgold’s fictional character, based on her own life experience, who says “My art is my freedom to say what I please.” Opening on October 7, the show is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New England in fifteen years.
Rockland, Maine’s Farnsworth Art Museum, dedicated since its founding in 1948 to art work made in or associated with the State of Maine, is celebrating its three fall exhibitions on October 6 with free admission and opening receptions for its members and the general public. The shows include Every Leaf and Twig: Andrew Wyeth’s Botanical Imagination, which features some twenty never-exhibited watercolors and sketches of plant life inspired by his walks throughout Maine’s mid coast, his summer home; Marsden Hartley and the Sea, which includes paintings of Vinalhaven Island and Nova Scotia by one of Maine’s most celebrated artist-native sons; and a recent acquisition, Small Cup, a thirteen-minute video by Lewiston-based performance artist Pope.L. The Member Reception begins at 4 p.m.; the Community Opening follows at 5 p.m.
Few paintings have had the spectacular and tumultuous biography of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. Commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II to honor his uncle and predecessor, Pope Sixtus IV, the altarpiece was painted, not for Sixtus IV’s Sistine Chapel, but for the monastery church of San Sisto in Piacenza, long associated with the family. There it made an immediate impression among Renaissance painters. Giorgio Vasari called it “a truly rare and extraordinary work” and Correggio is said to have exclaimed, when he saw it, “And I also, I am a painter!”
Sold in 1754 to Augustus III, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and Elector of Saxony, the painting moved to Dresden, where it made an even more powerful impression, treated as an artistic miracle and moving some who saw it to religious ecstasy. It became a touchstone of the German Romantic Movement, influencing Goethe, Wagner, and Nietzsche. Dostoevsky called it “the greatest revelation of the human spirit.”
Hidden with other art from Dresden for safe keeping in a Swiss tunnel during World War II, and thus saved from the notorious allied firebombing of February 1945, the painting was subsequently discovered by the Red Army and spirited away to Moscow, where it was displayed in the Pushkin Museum. After Stalin’s death in 1955, the Soviets returned the Madonna to Dresden, then part of the Russian puppet state of East Germany. A huge controversy arose over whether the Dresden works had been damaged while in Soviet hands. The altarpiece remains in Dresden to this day.
The two charming putti at the bottom margin of the work have had a long, high profile career of their own, inspiring rapturous praise and colorful legends. As art world celebrities, the pair have been, without the rest of the painting, repeatedly reproduced as the usual postcards, tea towels, t-shirts, wall posters, and postage stamps.
Spoiler alert: no, the Sistine Madonna will not be visiting the United States, at least not in the near future. But an expert on the painting will be speaking at the Clark Art Institute on September 26. Brigid Doherty, an associate professor at Princeton and a Clark Fellow, is working on a book on the Sistine Madonna and its deep legacies, especially in German culture. Her lecture, Two ‘Artwork Essays,’ or the Fate of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna in the Twentieth Century, focuses on brief –but Doherty believes crucial — mentions in two seminal German essays from the 1930s, one by Walter Benjamin and one by Martin Heidegger.
The lecture, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Clark’s Auditorium, is free of charge. A reception in the Manton Research Center Reading Room, will start at 5. For those who can’t make it to Williamstown, Doherty’s lecture will be taped and available on the Clark’s website starting October 3.
— Peter Walsh
Mehmet Alí Sanlíkol
September 28 at 8 p.m.
Crystal Ballroom, Somerville, Mass.
Istanbul-born Mehmet Alí Sanlíkol came to Boston in the ’90s to study jazz and leave his Turkish roots behind, but eventually they caught up with him. Now, several academic degrees later (Berklee, NEC), he’s been working all his influences in a kaleidoscopic mix of projects that has included a “coffeehouse opera,” an exploration of traditional Turkish and European music (in the collective Dünya), and skillful fusions of all these influences with American jazz. Representing that last such strain is the new Turkish Hipster, from his jazzy Whatsnext? project. Subtitled “tales from swing to psychedelic,” the recording includes alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón and reed player Anat Cohen, both of whom will join him in the Global Arts Live presentation.
Yoko Miwa Trio
September 29 at 7 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Pianist Yoko Miwa always brings variety and verve to her live club performances — reimaginings of classic pop and rock (Richie Havens’s “Freedom” is a recent, explosive example), lyrical originals, and less played jazz “standards” (Duke Jordan as well as Monk). She’s joined by regular trio-mates Brian Barrett (bass) and Scott Goulding (drums).
Celebrated vocalist Sara Serpa and guitarist André Matos celebrate the release of Night Birds, their third album as a duo. Aiding them in sustaining that album’s dream-like flow will be a trio including pianist Dov Manski. On October 4, meanwhile, as part of a New England Conservatory residency, Serpa will perform “Intimate Strangers,” featuring excerpts from that “acclaimed multi-media work offering musical insight into the journeys and experiences of migrants, refugees, and displaced people.” In second half of the performance, Serpa, Matos, Manski, and NEC students will perform “a range of repertoire” including music from Night Birds. The NEC show is free.
October 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Lilypad, Cambridge, Mass.
Pianist, composer, and music presenter (this show is part of the “This Music TM Series” that he cofounded) takes a deliberate, focused approach to free improvisation, favoring inward space as much as outward clamor. For this show he debuts a new band with violinist Kat Jara, bassist Aidan O’Connell, and drummer John Dalton, plus “special guests.”
Gretchen Parlato/Lionel Loueke
October 6 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, Mass.
Lean In, the beguiling new release from the acclaimed Benin guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke and American singer (and Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition winner) Gretchen Parlato shows them performing a sequence of songs drawing from West African, American R&B, pop, and jazz traditions, with important stops at Brazilian bossa and a bit of Foo Fighters. A wild guess that Parlato’s husband, the accomplished drummer, percussionist, and composer Mark Guiliana, featured on the album, will be joining them for this show.
Jazz Along the Charles
October 7 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Charles River Esplanade, Boston
In 2018, the Celebrity Series of Boston sponsored a free “walkable concert” along the Charles River Esplanade. Now Jazz Along the Charles is back, with 25 local bands, comprising 100 musicians, stationed at various points along a 1.5 mile loop of the Esplanade, rain or shine. The set list this year consists of music composed (or popularized) by women, from Tracy Chapman and Esperanza Spalding to Nnenna Freelon and Donna Summer, as well as a newly commissioned work by Terri Lyne Carrington. Bands include those of Ana Petrova, Charlie Kohlhase, Greg Hopkins, Jason Yeager, Patricia Zárate Pérez, and Rebecca Cline, as well as Women in World Jazz, and more.
Aaron Diehl/Boston Symphony Orchestra
October 7 at 6 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston
The Boston Symphony Orchestra — which has been upping its programming of Black American composers — here opens its 2023 season by programing Beethoven and Ellington. OK, then. The protean pianist Aaron Diehl — who has just released a recording of Mary Lou Williams’s landmark “Zodiac Suite” for orchestra — here plays Ellington’s extended-form “New World A-Coming” (1943) with the orchestra and his trio with bassist David Wong and drummer Aaron Kimmel. Also on the program are Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Tonk,” for piano four-hands; Carlos Simon’s “Four Black American Dances”; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A; and, first, but not least, Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House” overture. The piano soloist for the Mozart is Rudolf Buchbinder, who will also join Diehl for the Ellington/Strayhorn. BSO music director Andris Nelsons conducts.
Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart
October 7 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston
Keyboardist Goldings, guitarist Bernstein, and drummer Stewart have been playing together for more than 30 years — in addition to their many other projects as sidemen and leaders. But the trio — with Goldings on Hammond-B3 — is special, an individual take on the modern organ trio tradition forged by Jimmy Smith and Larry Young. That means the requisite body-moving grooves (both Goldings and Stewart logged serious time with JB’s hornman Maceo Parker), but also expansive textures and dynamics that draw as much from gigs with the likes of Carla Bley and John Scofield
Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra
October 10 at 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston
The performance at the BPC by the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra in March was a standout: a varied program, beautifully sequenced, with pieces that showed each composer’s idiosyncratic mastery of form and content. And, as usual, the players were stellar. For this show they’ll be performing pieces previously recorded on their 2020 Live at the BPC, as well as new pieces, by resident composers David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, and Mimi Rabson. BPC influences range from Ray Charles and James Brown to Julius Hemphill and Terry Riley.
— Jon Garelick
Robert Boyers at Harvard Book Store
Maestros & Monsters: Days & Nights with Susan Sontag & George Steiner
September 26 at 7 p.m.
“This is a memoiristic book and a dual portrait, built around intense friendships with two leading public intellectuals who achieved celebrity status — Susan Sontag on a global scale, George Steiner principally in Europe, though also for a time in the US. For audiences at Woody Allen movies Sontag was the prime embodiment of the term “intellectual,” whose famous 1965 essay “Notes on Camp” won her an enormous following. For viewers of French, German and British television over decades Steiner was the primary interview show talking head, igniting controversy on many fronts, while also commanding a loyal audience for thirty years as a book critic at The New Yorker.
To know Sontag and Steiner, as this memoir suggests, was often to feel overmatched and yet also bemused and awe-struck. Both of them gave off an air of omniscience and self-confidence, as if they had taken to heart the words of the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, who wrote, ‘I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me.'”
Ian Johnson at Harvard Book Store
Sparks: China’s Underground Historians and Their Battle for The Future
September 27 at 7 p.m.
“Sparks: China’s Underground Historians and their Battle for the Future describes how some of China’s best-known writers, filmmakers, and artists have overcome crackdowns and censorship to forge a nationwide movement that challenges the Communist Party on its most hallowed ground: its control of history. Based on years of first-hand research in Xi Jinping’s China, Sparks challenges stereotypes of a China where the state has quashed all free thought, revealing instead a country engaged in one of humanity’s great struggles of memory against forgetting — a battle that will shape the China that emerges in the mid-21st century.”
An Evening of Poetry: Airea D. Matthews – brookline booksmith
Bread and Circus
September 27 at 7 p.m.
“Bread and Circus is a powerful collection of autobiographical poems from Yale Young Poets Award Winner and Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate Airea D. Matthews about the economics of class and its failures for those rendered invisible by it.
As a former student of economics, Airea D. Matthews was fascinated and disturbed by 18th-century Scottish economist Adam Smith, and his magnum opus The Wealth of Nations. Bread and Circus is a direct challenge to Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, which claims self-interest is the key to optimal economic outcomes.
By juxtaposing redacted texts by Smith and the French Marxist Guy Debord with autobiographical prose and poems, Bread and Circus demonstrates that self-interest fails when people become commodities themselves, and shows how the most vulnerable—including the author and her family—have been impacted by that failure. A layered collection to be read and reread, with poems that range from tragic to humorous, in forms as varied and nuanced as the ideas the book considers, Bread and Circus explores the area where theory and reality meet.”
Rosanna Xia with Madeline Ostrander – brookline booksmith
California Against the Sea
September 29 at 7 p.m.
“Along California’s 1,200-mile coastline, the overheated Pacific Ocean is rising and pressing in, imperiling both wildlife and the maritime towns and cities that 27 million people call home. In California Against the Sea, Los Angeles Times coastal reporter Rosanna Xia asks: as climate chaos threatens the places we love so fiercely, will we finally grasp our collective capacity for change?”
Walter Isaacson at First Parish Church – Harvard Book Store
October 3 at 7 p.m.
First Parish Church, Cambridge MA
Tickets are $45 including book, $20 without with 20% coupon
“For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?”
Susie Boyt in conversation with Claire Messud – Porter Square Books
Loved and Missed
October 4 at 7 p.m.
“Ruth is a woman who believes in and despairs of the curative power of love. Her daughter, Eleanor, who is addicted to drugs, has just had a baby, Lily. Ruth adjusts herself in ways large and small to give to Eleanor what she thinks she may need—nourishment, distance, affection—but all her gifts fall short. After someone dies of an overdose in Eleanor’s apartment, Ruth hands her daughter an envelope of cash and takes Lily home with her, and Lily, as she grows, proves a compensation for all of Ruth’s past defeats and disappointment. Love without fear is a new feeling for her, almost unrecognizable. Will it last?
Love and Missed is a whip-smart, incisive, and mordantly witty novel about love’s gains and missteps. British writer Susie Boyt’s seventh novel, and the first to be published in the United States, is a triumph.”
Amy Schneider at First Parish Church – Harvard Book Store
In the Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life
October 5 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $40, book included
“In eighth grade, Amy was voted “Most likely to appear on Jeopardy!” by her classmates. Decades later, this trailblazer finally got her chance. Not only did she walk away with $1.3 million while captivating the world with her impressive forty-game winning streak, but she made history and won an even greater prize—the joy of being herself on national television and blazing a trail for openly queer and transgender people around the world. Now, she shares her singular journey that led to becoming an unlikely icon and hero to millions. Her super power: Boundless curiosity and fearless questioning.
In the Form of a Question explores some of the innumerable topics that have fascinated Amy throughout her life—books and music, Tarot and astrology, popular culture and computers, sex and relationships—but they all share the same purpose: to illustrate, and celebrate, the results of a lifetime spent asking, why?”
Kathleen Alcott in conversation with Valeria Luiselli – Porter Square Books
October 10 at 7 p.m.
“From an “exquisite” (The New Yorker) writer, a searing volume of prizewinning stories starring women facing points of no return. A professor finds a photograph of her deceased mother in a compromising position on the wall of a museum. A twenty-something’s lucrative remote work sparks paranoia and bigotry. A transplant to a new city must make a choice about who she trusts when her partner reveals a violent history. The summer after her divorce from an older man, an exiled painter’s former friends grapple with rumors that she attempted to pass as a teenager.
In this long-awaited debut collection, Kathleen Alcott turns her skills as a stylist on the unfreedoms of American life — as well as the guilt that stalks those who survive them. Emergency roams from European cities to scorched California towns, drug-smeared motel rooms to polished dinner parties, taking taut, surprising portraits of addiction, love, misogyny, and sexual power. Confronting the hidden perils of class ascension, the women in these stories try to pay down the psychic debts of their old lives as they search for a new happiness they can afford.”
— Matt Hanson