Arts & Leisure


MNFF ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Jay Craven, right, asks legendary film director and screenwriter Paul Schrader a question about his career during a Q&A after the screening of his film “First Reformed” at Town Hall Theater during the recent Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival. Schrader, writer of “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull,” was given a VTeddy Award for Sustained Excellence in Cutting Edge Filmmaking. Independent photo/Steve James
09/05/2019
MIDDLEBURY — The fifth annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF5) was a rousing success by virtually all barometers. It broke attendance records and drew some of the best quality films in the history of the four-day event that has become a major attraction for Addison County’s shire town. Festival Producer Lloyd Komesar said MNFF5, which kicked off with a Kids & Family Day on Aug. 21 and wrapped up with the screen of the documentary film “Ernie & Joe” on Aug. 25, filled more cinema seats than ever. Based on a preliminary count of seats filled at five viewing venues, Komesar...

EXPERIENCE THE FULL sound and dynamic vocal range of singer songwriter Steve Hartmann at Brandon Music on Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
09/05/2019
BRANDON — Brandon Music welcomes back the compelling and enigmatic singer-songwriter, Steve Hartmann from Jericho. At the beginning of the year, Hartmann stunned the Brandon Music audience with his highly accomplished and unique sound. He is a polished guitarist with amazing vocals and engaging stage presence. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Hartmann majored in piano and double majored in stage performance and song writing. Born in Dalat, Vietnam towards the end of the Vietnam War, Hartmann was adopted at the age of 5 months. He struggled to find a sense of belonging until he found...
09/05/2019
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury Actors Workshop’s Cutting Edge staged reading series is back with Amy Herzog’s smart, engrossing “After The Revolution,” which will be performed on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m., in the Vermont Coffee Company Theater on Exchange Street in Middlebury. The play is a bold and moving portrait of an American family in an intergenerational tailspin, forced to reconcile a thorny and delicate legacy.  The brilliant Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s Marxist tradition, devoting her life to the memory of her blacklisted grandfather. But when history reveals a...

DIANA FANNING, LEFT, Arielle Levioff and Michael C. Haigler will perform a concert of solo and four-hand music at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society on Friday, Sept. 6.
09/05/2019
MIDDLEBURY — Faculty members of Pianos on the Point, a new program for serious adult piano students at Point CounterPoint Camp on Lake Dunmore, will perform a concert of solo and four-hand music at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, 2 Duane Court, in Middlebury, on Friday, Sept. 6, at 7:30 p.m.  Featured pianists are Diana Fanning, Arielle Levioff, and Michael C. Haigler.  This performance is sponsored by Point CounterPoint Chamber Music Camp.  Admission is free, donations appreciated.

PLAYWRIGHT AMY HERZOG’S thought-provoking contemporary work “After The Revolution” will be read by actors at the Vermont Coffee Company Theater in Middlebury this Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. as part of the Middlebury Actors Workshop’s Cutting Edge series.
09/02/2019
Middlebury Actors Workshop’s Cutting Edge staged reading series is back with Amy Herzog’s smart, engrossing “After The Revolution” on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. in the Vermont Coffee Company Theater located at 1197 Exchange St. in Middlebury. The play is a bold and moving portrait of an American family in an intergenerational tailspin, forced to reconcile a thorny and delicate legacy. The brilliant Emma Joseph proudly carries the torch of her family’s Marxist tradition, devoting her life to the memory of her blacklisted grandfather. But when history reveals a shocking truth about the man...

THE UMBRELLA PLANT, with its broad green leaves, grows behind the gazebo and is aptly named. Photo by Dick Conrad
09/02/2019
It is a delightful mid-August afternoon as I sit in our gazebo encircled by my garden. Unsurprisingly, as I glance around, my eye is initially drawn to the exuberant sun-filled borders full of colorful summer flowers — clusters of lacy pink yarrow backed by a stand of pure-white shasta daisies; deep-blue monkshood among purple coneflowers; groups of pink and white phlox; clumps of yellow and peach-colored daylilies; and a pair of prodigious panicle hydrangeas covered with creamy cone-shaped flowers. There are also the blueberry bushes laden with fruit, calling me to get picking. While all...

VIVEIK KALRA PLAYS a young man who’s inspired by Bruce Springsteen music to pursue his passion in the movie “Blinded By the Light.”
09/02/2019
Blinded By the Light — Running Time: 1:58 — Rating: PG-13 “Blinded By the Light” opens in the 1980s and introduces us to Jared (Viveik Kalra), a young man who tells us, “I’ve spent 35 years trying to let go of the destructive parts of my character.” Watching him show us those decades is pure pleasure. There are no weak parts of this boy’s character, but he is born to a kindly mother and a tough, uncompromising father (Kulvinder Ghir) who tries to determine every detail of his son’s life. As an immigrant from Pakistan, the father settled his family in Luton, England, a small town with a poor,...
09/02/2019
(Minotaur Books) Steadfast readers of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series of murder mysteries: rest assured that “A Better Man,” the 15th book in the award-winning series, will exceed your expectations. Gamache returns to the Sûreté du Québec, though not quite as Chief Inspector, but rather as head of the homicide department, a job he temporarily shares with Jean-Guy Beauvoir — once under his command and also his son-in-law, who is preparing for a career move to Paris with his family. An intense storm bears down on the Canadian province, including the village of Three Pines, when a call...

DINK, PLAYED BY Ujon Tokarski in John Melrod’s “Major Arcana,” is a master Vermont carpenter but relentlessly clueless when it comes to relationships. The Vermont film screened at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival late last week.
08/29/2019
MIDDLEBURY — It’s unlikely that any of the movie stills from Vermont filmmaker Josh Melrod’s first narrative feature, “Major Arcana” (2018), which was screened last Thursday at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, will ever get turned into a Woody Jackson or Sabra Field painting. Melrod’s derelict Windsor County landscapes lack the openness and order such idealism requires, as do his alcoholic characters, who feel as if they’re constantly struggling to deserve what little light shines down on them. All of which, of course, is by design. “The thing about Vermont is that it’s so beautiful,...

SOFIA HIRSCH HAS made the violin her life’s work. Here she is playing for the Opera Company of Middlebury’s gala in 2018. Photo by Max Kraus
08/29/2019
A small, three-year-old girl in Ontario grinds her bow across all four strings. She coaxes out an imperfect G major scale in whole notes, her very first feat on her very first violin. These were the humble beginnings of professional violinist Sofia Hirsch. Today, with about 35 more years of practice under her belt, Hirsch continues her musical career with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and other ensembles across Vermont. Thankfully, the bow grinding has become graceful gliding. Some of Hirsch’s favorite memories from her 18 years with VSO include performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma (who “...

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