Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, theater, film, and dance for the weekend and beyond.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Paine, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Ravel
Presented by the Longwood Symphony Orchestra
December 7, 8:00 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
New York Philharmonic principal bassoonist Judith LeClair is the Longwood SO’s special guest in this, their second concert of the season. Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto anchors a program that also includes Stravinsky’s Symphonies for Wind Instruments and Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin. Opening the evening is John Knowles Paine’s overture to As You Like It.
“Definitely Not Retiring”
Presented by MIT
December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, MA
In case anyone was wondering, the indefatigable John Harbison, seventy-five this year, isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon. And MIT is feting that fact with a concert that celebrates Harbison’s love of jazz and Bach: Harbison will conduct the cantata BWV 118 and appear as pianist with a jazz trio in some of his own songs and a piece for violin and jazz trio (which features his wife, violinist Mary Rose Harbison).
Presented by New England Conservatory
December 11, 8:00 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
The actual birthday may be passed, but a few events remain to tie up NEC’s comprehensive Britten 2013 festivities. The last orchestral concert of the year pairs excerpts from Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet Symphony with Britten’s magnificent Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Quan Yuan.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
December 6, 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, MA
MISTRAL, formerly known as Andover Chamber Players, makes their Brookline debut at St. Paul’s Church. The Baroque Big Band will be performing in a wonderful program with terrific players. The program will include a flute concerto by C.P.E. Bach, a beloved Bach Violin Concerto in d minor, BWV 1052, usually performed as a keyboard concerto, but here played by three violin soloists- Irina Muresanu, Gabriela Diaz, and Alexi Kenney, who just won the concert Artists Guild competition. Telemann’s Tafelmusic will be played by the recorder concert artist Aldo Abreu. This should be a wonderful evening. Highly recommended!
The Jameson Singers: “Gladness of Heart”
December 7, 3:00 p.m.
United Parish of Auburndale, Newton, MA
The sixty-voice choir, led by Jameson Marvin, Artistic Director, and Kevin Leong, Guest Conductor performs works by Britten, Mendelssohn, William Byrd, Lukas Foss, Grahms, Randall Thompson, and traditional carols.
December 7, 2:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Brookline, MA
Cappella Clausura’s seasonal celebration will led by the gifted Amy LeClair.
The Cantata Singers
December 7, 8:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s Church, Cambridge, MA
Under the musical direction of David Hoose, the Cantata Singers, in their fiftieth season, will present the gorgeous Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.
December 8, 3:00 p.m.
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
The brilliant pianist, presented by the Celebrity Series, will give the US premiere of his own Barcarolle, along with Sonata in E Minor (“Night Wind”) by one of his favorite composers, Medtner. Schubert’s Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960 will be performed as well.
Music for Food
December 9, 8:00 p.m.
NEC’s Brown Hall, Boston, MA
Music for Food, under music director (and superb violist) Kim Kashkashian continues with Part Two of their series, “The Sounds of South America,” including Dvorak’s Piano Quartet in D Major with Hiroko Yajima, violin; Kim Kashkashian, viola; Marcy Rosen, cello; Lydia Artymiw, piano. Also the Carpe Diem String Quartet. Music of Gabriela Lena Frank and Tanayev. All proceeds go to Food for Free. Minimum suggested donation is $20 or $10 for students.
— Susan Miron
World and Roots Music
With his smooth, charismatic presence and a knack for writing memorable and uplifting melodies, Lee Williams has spent the past two decades as quartet gospel’s superstar. The second-most famous son of Tupelo, Miss. is in such demand down south that he hasn’t sung in Boston for four years. Also on the bill are the Spencer Taylor and the Highway QCs, a group whose alum include Sam Cooke, Johnnie Taylor and Lou Rawls, and popular Memphis singer George Dean and his Gospel Four, making this the biggest traditional gospel show of the year.
Caribbean Connection Holiday Show
Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury, MA
Longtime Boston DJ David Martin throws his annual party. Topping the varied bill are two icons of calypso, Singing Sandra and Lord Relator. The politically charged Sandra has long stood up for women around the world with her stinging calypsos addressing domestic violence. Relator, who was closely linked with calypso pioneer Lord Kitchener, has collaborated with jazz musician Andy Narell and addressed everything from “Food Prices” to “A Lovely Day for Cricket.” Expect plenty of parang, the Spanish-language Christmas music found in Trinidad this time of year.
Crossing Musical Borders: From India to Brazil and somewhere in between
December 8, 4:00 p.m.
Armory Café, Somerville, MA
Irish music on the sitar? It may be a first when sitarist Sonny Lalchandani and fiddler Rachel Panitch debut their collaboration. Lalchandani will also play classical Indian music with tabla player Ishwhin Dembla, and the NEC Honors ensemble Choro Bastardo will perform their spin on traditional Brazilian folk music.
— Noah Schaffer
December 8, 7:30 p.m.
YMCA Theatre, Cambridge MA
The eight-piece Boston-based Italian folk music ensemble Newpoli like to reach all the way back to the Renassiance in their exploration of the Southern Italian tradition. And the band is loaded with well-schooled ringers from the local jazz and world music scenes, including singers Carmen Marsico and Angela Rossi and guitarist Björn Wennås. Expect to hear the usual mix of pizzicas, tarantellas, and other traditional dances and melodies, plus a few Christmas surprises, in the program at the YMCA Theatre: “Musica di Natale: A Traditional Italian Christmas.”
— Jon Garelick
Dave Burrell and Garrison Fewell
December 8, 7:00 p.m.
Third Life Studio, Somerville, MA
The distinguished pianist and composer Dave Burrell makes a rare Boston-area appearance when he joins guitarist Garrison Fewell for a duo session as well as a discussion of Fewell’s new book, Outside Music, Inside Voices: Dialogues on Improvisation, Spirituality and Creative Music. Aside from his work as a leader, Burrell has played with the likes of Pharoah Sanders (on the landmark Impulse LP Tauhid), Archie Shepp, David Murray, Andrew Cyrille, and many others. To the often dense, roiling world of “outside” music, Burrell and Fewell bring uncommon lyricism and transparency. The event will also include an interview with Burrell by Boston writer Ed Hazell.
The Citizens’ Orchestra
December 8, 8:00 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA
The Citzens’ Orchestra has all the makings of a free-jazz supergroup: trumpeters Forbes Graham and Chris Kottke, alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs, pianist Eric Zinman, bassist Jacob William, drummer Syd Smart, and Glynis Lomon, credited with “cello, voice, Aquasonic.” (No mention of whether a free sonogram is included.)
December 12, 7:30 p.m.
ICA, Boston, MA
The keyboard man from groove-jazz troika Medeski Martin & Wood earlier this year stepped out with his first solo disc ever — putting aside his Hammond-B3, Wurlitzer, and other customary heavy hardware for a 1924 Gaveau concert grand, known for its delicate touch. The CD, A Different Time, the first on the revived Okeh label (now under Sony Classical), is beguiling, meditative, and — unless we’re just way too suggestible — a bit French. No word on what kind of piano World Music/CRASH Arts and the ICA will provide for Medeski’s solo show tonight, but be prepared to lean in and listen.
December 12, 7:15 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
Boston pianist and composer Bert Seager is constantly experimenting with new strategies and formats for improvisation. Tonight he brings his chamber jazz quartet the Why (their motto: “Asking the question changes everything”) to the Lily Pad. Along with Seager, the group includes cellist Catherine Bent, bassist Sean Farias, and percussionist Brian O’Neill (of Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica).
December 12, 10:00 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA
This is one sweet little “world music” group, specializing in what they call “styles born out of the gypsy diaspora” — in which they also include Argentine tango, Italian tarantellas, sacred Turkish sufi music, Bulgarian dance, and Moroccan trance. The band — true musical polymaths all — includes electric mandolinist Matt Glover, accordionist Roberto Cassan, bassist Mike Rivard (of Club d’Elf fame), and percussionist/singer Fabio Pirozzolo.
— Jon Garelick
Green Street Studios Performance Fundraiser
Green Street Studios, Cambridge, MA
As the planning continues and new spaces are explored for a move from their home next June, the twenty-year-old Green Street Studio community celebrates the here and now in a showcase that includes participation of dancers and choreographers Marcus Shulkind, Luminarium Dance, Jody Weber, Kathleen Nasti, Daniel McCusker, David Sun, Gwen Baum, Hannah Wendel and Kieran Jordan & Sean Clohessy.
And if you’re in the mood for some holiday dance…
Boston Ballet Nutcracker
November 29-December 29
Opera House, Boston MA
The highest profile Nutcracker in Boston, Mikko Nissinen’s beautifully refurbished production with live orchestra makes both narrative and dance sense, and offers the company’s less familiar dancers a chance to show their talents. Decide beforehand if you’re going to splurge at the lobby gift shop or your kids may hold you hostage for a tiara.
Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre Nutcracker
The Sanctuary Theatre, Cambridge, MA
The Strand Theatre, Dorchester, MA
Whether in the close-up setting of its Cambridge Sanctuary Theatre home or on a regional tour to Duxbury and the Strand in Dorchester, Mateo’s chamber-sized ballet makes a big impression. This is a traditional staging of the classic with a recorded version of Tchaikovsky’s memorable score. Mateo’s production is a strong, and less expensive, option for a first time Nutcracker experience or holiday themed date night.
John Hancock Hall, Boston, MA
Tony Williams’ continually updated and always delightful reworking of the classic this season features Williams’ lively mix of classical ballet, modern, tap and jazz. This season’s show is headlined by So You Think You Can Dance krumping star Russell Ferguson and members of the 1950s doo wop group, the G-Clefs.
Not! The Nutcracker
Tsai Performance Center, Boston, MA
The Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s holiday themed concert includes an array of jazz, modern and hip hop stylings by Boston Youth Moves’ teen dancers along with guests from Nikki Sell’s new ensemble, Hyperbole Dance.
What the Dickens by Cambridge Youth Dance Program
Boston University Dance Theater, Boston, MA
Nutcrackered out? Give your holiday outing a hip hop flavor. Deborah Mason’s production with Corinne Mason as a gender-reversed Ebeneeza Scrooge features Carl Alleyne’s BeanTown Lockers and the too-rarely featured WonderTwins who earned their stripes choreographing for New Kids on the Block and as backing dancers for the likes of Queen Latifa.
— Debra Cash
Henry VIII, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Tina Packer. Staged by the Actor’s Shakespeare Project at The Modern Theatre, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, December 11 through January 5. A real treat for those who love the Bard — his final history play (first staged in 1612-13) is rarely produced. (William Fletcher is thought to have had a hand in the text). Allyn Burrows plays King Henry VIII, who is having trouble with the Catholic Church and his marriage.
— Bill Marx
Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?
December 6 – 12
The Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
In his new film, subtitled “An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky,” filmmaker Michael Gondry finds a perfect subject. The director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Green Hornet, countless music videos, and commercials uses his quirky imaginative approach to filmmaking and animation to explore the life and work of Boston’s most honored local philosopher, linguist, activist, and political firebrand. Chomsky will join will be in conversation following the 7:00 show on Tuesday, December 10, but that show is unfortunately already sold out.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Frederick Wiseman has had a fifty-year career as one of the country’s best and most uncompromising observational documentarians. His latest is a film that “shows the major aspects of university life, its intellectual and social mission, its obligation to the state and to larger ideas of higher education.” (Zipporah Films) Rave reviews indicate that the film, at 244 minutes, is a constantly engaging look at this sprawling institution. The Venice Film Festival called it “a state-of-the-nation masterwork, a vitally important piece of work, and should be seen by as many people as possible”. You can get insight into Wiseman’s history, humor, and style in this HBO interview at the New York Film Festival here.
AKA Doc Pomus
Regent Theater, Arlington, MA
Filled with interviews and music this film adds to the recent histories on contemporary popular music. Doc Pomus, born Jerome Felder, was an athletic, bright boy when he contracted polio at an early age. Despite the physical and social challenges of his handicap and of being a New York Jew he was possessed by African American soul music, which he called, the “midnight lady who had a lovelock on my soul”. He went on to discover he was a great singer with an even greater talent for writing hits. Those include over a thousand songs, (many co-written with Mort Schuman) inspiring great performances; these include “Lonely Avenue,” (Ray Charles) “Youngblood” (Coasters), “Teenager in Love” (Dion), “Save the Last Dance for Me” (Drifters), “This Magic Moment” (Ben E. King), “Little Sister” and “Viva Las Vegas” (Elvis). With his embracing girth and bushy white goatee, Pomus was a man of infinite charm, a huge influence on songwriters, a seminal part of the Brill Building stable, and an essential part American music history. He finally gets his due in this rollicking and heartwarming documentary.
— Tim Jackson