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Arts & Culture

Rogovoy Report 12/13/19

This week’s cultural highlights in our region include chamber music, swing dance, folk, blues, jazz … plus a whole lot more.

Choreographer David Neumann and theater artist Marcella Murray team up to explore what might constructive conversations on race feel like in “Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed,” in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8. Neumann and Murray stage their years-long dialogue on the subject inside a TV talk show featuring video, personal histories, the unpacking of scientific uncertainties, and bright bursts of mesmerizing dance.

The Borromeo String Quartet plays works by Arensky and Bach in “Great Strings,” a Close Encounters with Music concert at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington on Saturday at 5:30. Arensky’s Quartet in A Minor for two cellos, featuring Close Encounters founder and artistic director Yehuda Hanani, is considered one of the finest Russian string quartets ever written, with the second movement being a set of variations on a theme by his BFF Tchaikovsky.

A bit of Carnegie Hall comes to PS21 in Chatham, N., on Saturday at 5, when the Carnegie-based Ensemble Connect performs Francis Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano, and Olivier Messiaen’s timeless Quartet for the End of Time.

One Straw Revolution provides rhythms for a swing dance at Dewey Hall in Sheffield, Mass., on Saturday at 7.

Folk/blues music legend Geoff Muldaur performs at Spencertown Academy on Saturday at 8 p.m. Guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and arranger Muldaur is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues, and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, Mass., and Woodstock, NY, in the 1960s. Muldaur made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria Muldaur and other notables, including Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, and Jerry Garcia. Richard Thompson once summed up his admiration for Muldaur when he said, “There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.”

Experimental jazz pianist Dan Tepfer brings his Natural Machines program to Hudson Hall on Saturday at 7. In Natural Machines, Tepfer plays a note, chord or phrase on a Yamaha Disklavier, a kind of automatic digital player piano, and the instrument answers him according to a given algorithm, setting up a kind of human-computer duet or call and response, where the keyboard matches, or mirrors, all of Tepfer’s keystrokes and creates a counterpoint to his  improvisational work. Though Tepfer prepares the algorithms in advance, the live performances are all single-take improvisations: the sound of him and the computer interacting in real time. There’s also a stunning visual component to the project, which generates animated graphics that mirror the notes played on the piano, both by Tepfer and the computer algorithm. Again, that’s Dan Tepfer at Hudson Hall on Saturday at 7.

And finally, legendary multi-instrumentalist and composer David Amram – a true and noble American treasure – brings his all-human quintet to the Falcon in Marlboro, NY, on Sunday at 8.

Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com