Arts Beat: Shao and friends kick off 100th Middlebury Performing Arts Series season


CELLIST SOPHIE SHAO and her chamber ensemble kick off the 100th year of Middlebury College’s Performing Arts Series on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m., at Mahaney Arts Center, 72 Porter Field Rd., in Middlebury.

MOIRA SMILEY BRINGS the Epic Little Folk Fest to Tourterelle in New Haven on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m.

SVER, A NORWEGIAN/SWEDISH quartet, collaborates with singer Moira Smiley at the Epic Little Folk Fest at Tourterelle, Route 7 in New Haven, on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m.

THE MUSICAL “HANDS on a Hardbody” opens on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. The show continues on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the same time and on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m.

LARA HERSCOVITCH, A modern American songwriter-poet-performer, takes the stage on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m., at Brandon Music, 62 Country Club Rd. in Brandon.

The Middlebury Performing Arts Series’ 100th anniversary season opens on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m., with perennial Middlebury favorite, cellist Sophie Shao.

Applauded by the New York Times for her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations, Shao has a gift for assembling impromptu chamber ensembles that are brimming with passion and talent. This season, she’s joined by violinists Jennifer Frautschi and Zachary DePue, violists Paul Neubauer and Che-Yen Chen, and cellist Fred Sherry for a program including Brahms’s Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major, selected Consorts for Six Viols by Orlando Gibbons and Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. The audience is invited to enjoy a season-opening reception after the concert.

Shao received an Avery Fisher Career Grant at age 19, was a major prizewinner at the 2001 Rostropovich Competition, and a laureate of the XII Tchaikovsky Competition in 2002. She has given the world premiere performances of Howard Shore’s Mythic Gardens — a concerto written for her — and Richard Wilson’s Concerto for Cello and Mezzo-Soprano with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra.

She has appeared as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Keith Lockhart, presented the six Bach Suites in one afternoon at Union College, and has made recital and chamber music appearances with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Chamber Music Northwest. In 2017, Shao released a double-CD set of the Bach Cello Suites.

Reserved seating tickets are $30 for adults; $25 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, emeriti and alumni; $10 for youth; and $6 for Middlebury College students; and are on sale at 802-443-6433 or middlebury.edu/arts/tickets. The Mahaney Arts Center is located on the campus of Middlebury College, at 72 Porter Field Road, just off Route 30 South/S. Main Street. Parking is available curbside on Route 30 or in the Arts Center parking lot.

EPIC LITTLE FOLK FEST IN NEW HAVEN

Moira Smiley is proud to present the Epic Little Folk Fest, featuring her on-going international collaboration with Norwegian/Swedish quintet SVER at Tourterelle Inn & Restaurant on

This international partnership melds traditional and original fiddle-driven tunes from Norway and Sweden with wild, lonesome and original songs. Smiley’s plaintive, powerful voice weaves between the fiery, inventive forces of SVER’s fiddles (including the special Norwegian hardanger fiddle), accordion, guitar and drums. Alternating between songs and hard-driving instrumentals, SVER and Smiley will bring you to your feet and leave you singing and stomping along.

This is a rare chance to see these globally sought-after young roots music innovators perform in such an intimate venue — with a delicious food truck to feed you, dancing and other special, local offerings to surprise you.

Epic Little Folk Fest is a one-night-only opportunity to dance and swoon an evening away to the music of Moira Smiley and beloved Nordic folk band, SVER, in the Tourterelle barn. Eat your fill at the Tourterelle food truck, and wear your dancing shoes. Featured musicians include Moira Smiley, SVER, Nate Gusakov and Hadley Stockwell of Young Tradition Vermont.

Tickets $25 from epiclittlefolkfest.bpt.me (also available at the door). Tourterelle Restaurant & Inn is located at 3629 Ethan Allen Highway in New Haven. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. All ages welcome.

HANDS ON A HARDBODY AT THT

Hands on a Hardbody, directed by Doug Anderson, hits the stage at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m.

Trey Anastasio’s Broadway musical is the best musical you don’t know. So much heart, such great roles for over a dozen people (each of whom gets a solo), amazing tunes (as you’d expect from the Phish guitarist), and some very timely ideas cooking just below the surface. It’s the true story of a competition in Texas in which ten people had to keep one hand on a new truck, in 110 degree heat. The last one standing won the truck. By the end of the musical, we know everything about every one of them.

A terrific local cast includes: Justin Bouvier, Leigh Guptill, Philip Caycedo, Bill and Mindy Bickford, Poppy Rees, Allison Devery Steinmetz and Cameron Steinmetz, Jillian Torres, Tanya Lehman, Valerie Smith Hastings, Pierre Vachon, Jon Isham, Michael Glidden and David Harcourt. And, perhaps, the true star of the show, a gleaming red pickup truck. Chuck Miller is at the keyboard and conducts the four-piece band.

Tickets are $36/$28/$18 (plus fees), and can be purchased online at townhalltheater.org or by phone at 802-382-9222. Tickets may also be purchased in person from noon to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, or one hour before showtime. Town Hall Theater is located at 68 S. Pleasant Street in Middlebury.

LARA HERSCOVITCH AT BRANDON MUSIC

Brandon Music welcomes Lara Herscovitch, a modern American songwriter-poet-performer creating masterful contemporary folk with blues, pop and jazz influences, on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

A former State Troubadour of Connecticut, she writes, sings and leads with authenticity, integrity, humor and heart, delivering performances that inspire, inform, uplift and entertain.

“Sound Waves” magazine described her music as “expertly written prose … songwriting at its best … good for your ears and your soul.” Herscovitch is “a remarkable performer” (WSHU Public Radio), “sharp as a tack (and wickedly funny) … polished, confident, talented” (Scenic Root). She has appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and tours from Maine to Miami.

Herscovitch has also worked in the U.S., Latin America and Asia, on behalf of disadvantaged communities — focusing on education, community development and juvenile and criminal justice reform. Echoes of these themes are in her music.

Concert tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is available for $25. Reservations are required for dinner and recommended for the show. Venue is BYOB. Call 802-247-4295 or e-mail info@brandon-music.net for reservations or for more information. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road in Brandon.

INTERNATIONAL FILM SERIES

The 2019-2020 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Middlebury College, with the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour.

The Tour is a 96-minute theatrical program of seven short films selected from this year’s Festival, widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launch pad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers for more than 30 years.

Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the 2019 program offers new audiences a taste of what the Festival offers, from sharply-written comedy and drama to edgy genre and an intimate family saga.

The films will be shown at 3 and again at 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium on College Street (Route 125). It’s free. Some of the films in this series may be inappropriate for children.

BLUES JAM IN BRISTOL

Middlebury-based English bluesman Tom Caswell will be hosting a Blues Jam in Bristol at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Hatch 31, located at 31 Main Street.

The jam will feature both local and statewide blues musicians and is open to anyone wanting to hear great music. This is a monthly event on the third Wednesday of the month. If you are a musician or singer planning to take part in the jam, there will be a sign-up sheet located near the stage.

Although the music begins at 8 p.m., an earlier arrival is advised. Admission to the jam is free.

POP UP CONCERTS IN BRISTOL

Five-Town Friends of the Arts are presenting a series of three pop up concerts this fall at Vermont Tree Goods, 27 Main Street in Bristol. The first show will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, and features Lausanne Allen, Rick Ceballos and Chris Prickitt. The one-hour set will include songs and dance tunes, both traditional and original, played on fiddle, whistle, banjo, accordion and guitar.

Allen and Ceballos have been playing together for more than 25 years and have cut a wide swath through traditional music genres of many lands. They will be joined by Chris Prickitt, who played with Ceballos in the Maine Country Dance Orchestra almost 45 years ago. Admission is by free-will donation.

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