Arts & Leisure

(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.
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
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 “...

“GIVE ME S'MORE” by Joan Drew — watercolor
BRANDON — As the weather starts to cool, the Brandon Artists Guild is getting all fired up. This fall, the gallery continues its Earth-themed 20th anniversary celebration with a new exhibit, “The Art of Fire.”  The show will run from Aug. 30 through Nov. 5. The public is invited to the free opening reception Friday, Aug. 30, from 5-7 p.m. The all-member, all-media show features pieces linked by the common theme of fire, and includes ceramics, collage, watercolor, oil, photography, glass and more. “Some of these pieces, in glass, ceramics, and metalwork, are born in fire,” said watercolorist...

JOIN THE MIDDLEBURY Community Chorus this season as the group begins to prepare for its annual Thanksgiving concerts. Photo / Silvia Cantu Bautista (’20)
MIDDLEBURY — Come join the Middlebury Community Chorus as the group begin rehearsing this fall to prepare for its annual Thanksgiving concerts. Weekly rehearsals on Tuesday and Sunday, from 7-8:30 p.m., initially take place at the Mahaney Arts Center room 221 on the Middlebury College campus on Tuesday, Sept. 3 and Sunday, Sept. 8, and then shift to Mead Chapel beginning on Sept. 10. This year the chorus will introduce jubilant pieces influenced by American folk-roots, gospel, and African vocal and drumming traditions. They include “One Voice,” by Ruth Moody from the Canadian folk trio The...

BLUEGRASS BAND BEG, Steal, or Borrow will perform iconic tunes at the Ripton Community Coffee House on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 7:30 p.m. Photo / Brian Carroll
RIPTON — Next Saturday, head up to the hills to hear Beg, Steal, or Borrow in concert at the Ripton Community Coffee House. The evening on Sept. 7 starts at 7 p.m. with open mic, followed by the featured performers. Beg, Steal, or Borrow plays traditional bluegrass and new grass with rhythmic drive, intricate instrumental arrangement and vocal harmonies. Formed in early 2013, this band has a mission to resurrect the music of the iconic bluegrass band Old and in the Way and have since grown into a solid repertoire of original material. This band won the title of Best Band at the 2017 Podunk...

THEY’RE BACK AGAIN. Local favorite Gypsy Reel returns to Brandon Music on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m.
Gypsy Reel returns to play high-energy music at Brandon Music on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 7:30 p.m. Always a firm favorite at Brandon Music this very popular group is known for creating major “electricity” when they perform live. A Celtic band that rocks, Gypsy Reel has spent the last two decades playing stirring music rooted in the Celtic tradition but garnered from the whole world. They have “bags of originality” (Andy Cheyne, “Folk Roots”) and according to “The Message” in Chester, Vermont, is “the hottest acoustic band around.” Gypsy Reel are returning for their fifth show at Brandon Music...

CLINT BIERMAN AND his wife, Lauren Bierman (a.k.a Rhonda Jean), sing together at Mad River Glen five years ago during The Grift’s 15th anniversary concert in 2014. Catch The Grift on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Mad River Glen, where they’ll celebrate 20 years of making music. Photo by Benjamin Bloom
MIDDLEBURY — Everyone gets it when two Middlebury College kids graduate, move to Boulder, Colo., and decide to start a rock band — they’re just enjoying their 20s and will get “real” jobs in a couple of years. But, for Clint Bierman (’97) and Jeff Vallone (’98.5) punching a clock and working a daily grind was just not in the cards. “When we first started, we thought we’d only be doing this for a second,” said Bierman, who now lives with his wife and two sons in Bridport. “I mean, there’s no way to be a local musician — the money just isn’t there — but we did it and we are doing it.” Maybe you...

MICHELLE WILLIAMS AND Julianne Moore star in “After the Wedding” (2019).
After the Wedding — Running Time: 1:50 — Rating: PG-13 “After the Wedding” unfurls gradually as it introduces us to locations and characters. A salute to writer Susan Bier and director Bart Freundlich for letting us get to know the principals before they begin to interact with each other. The whole story would feel shallow if we didn’t already know these people when circumstance brings them all together. It opens in India where Isabel (Michelle Williams) has designed a system for delivering food to children who have no money to buy even the basics. They love her; she loves them. Just as we...
(G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers) In a follow-up to Small Spaces, Katherine Arden, bestselling author of the Winternight series, has crafted another spellbinding ghost story about a trio of young kids who must navigate a treacherous path relying on their own inventiveness and courage. Ollie, Coco and Brian, along with Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom, brave a serious snowstorm in their trusty Subaru (yes, this story is set in Vermont) to enjoy a free weekend at a newly reopened ski area and lodge; they were the lucky prizewinners. Before they are safely ensconced in the lodge,...


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