The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include chamber music, klezmer, theater, dance, plus a whole lot more.
Renowned Italian pianist Federico Colli, winner of the 2011 Salzburg Mozart Competition, plays works by Mozart, Beethoven and Scarlatti at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., tonight at 7 pm. The centerpiece of Colli’s program is Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 5 in G major, K.283, surrounded by Domenico Scarlatti’s distinctive Six Sonatas and Beethoven’s sublime “Appassionata.” This special concert provides an exciting opportunity to hear Colli perform live — just two days prior to his New York City debut at Lincoln Center.
Also at the Clark this weekend, one of my most favorite people in the world has written a new book that I cannot wait to read. Former Williams College President Francis Oakley, known as Frank to all, has just published “From the Cast-Iron Shore,” part personal memoir and part participant-observer’s educational history, detailing the progression of Williams from a fraternity-dominated institution in the 1950s to the leading liberal arts college it is today. In his memoir, Oakley, who was a history professor at Williams for many years before ascending to the Williamstown White House, relays his experiences growing up in England, Ireland, and Canada, his time as a soldier in the British Army, and his years as a student at Yale University. That’s a free reading and booksigning at the Clark Art Institute on Sunday at 2pm
The Cantilena Chamber Choir will present Christmas at Trinity at Trinity Church in Lenox, Mass., on Sunday at 3p.m. The concert will include Russian sacred music by Tchaikovsky; traditional carols; and some new settings of old favorites.
In 1942, Woody Guthrie moved to Brooklyn and soon, through his mother-in-law -- the renowned Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt -- he became involved with the Coney Island Jewish Community. He wrote songs about Hanukkah, about Jewish history and about spiritual life. After his death in 1967, these songs sat forgotten in archives, until being rediscovered in 1998 by Woody’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, who was so inspired by what she found, she asked the Klezmatics – the world’s premiere modern klezmer outfit - to write new music for the lyrics. They did, and subsequently won a Grammy Award for the results. The Klezmatics will celebrate Hanukkah with a helping of Guthrie’s holiday tunes, plus a full meal of their own incredible new Yiddish music, at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturady at 7:30pm. I’ll even be there myself to introduce the band.
Innovation abounds in our region this weekend. One of New York City’s most exciting young theater companies, New Saloon, returns to Bard College with “Minor Character,” their adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” “Minor Character” collages a century’s worth of English translations of Chekhov’s masterpiece — from a flowery 1916 version to Google Translate’s nonsensical rendition — into one sprawling, intimate, quietly disastrous evening. Performances are tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Bard Fisher Center’s LUMA Theater.
An innovative program ushers in the winter season at Basilica Hudson this weekend. On Sunday at 5pm, an interactive musical procession of candles, humans, myths and angels called Winter Spiral merges ancient European traditions with the eternal values of cherishing and celebrating life and peace on Earth. The performance ritual is free and appropriate for all ages.
The Rip Van Winkle story meets Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” in choreographer Adam Weinert's "Rip the Nut" at Hudson Hall on Saturday at 5:15pm. This pantomime-style, Hudson Valley-inspired mash-up of dance, cheerleading and circus features special guest narrator Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five fame, and, believe it or nut -- I mean, not -- is free to all.
The music that jaunty acoustic swing trio the Wiyos plays comes from a time before commercial formatting separated blues from country, ragtime from gospel, and swing from hillbilly. Bob Dylan himself chose the Wiyos to warm up his U.S. audiences on a full 28-day summer tour in 2009. The hometown heroes perform at Club Helsinki Hudson tonight at 9pm.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com