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The Arts | Winter 2015-16

Written by Bill Anderson on . Posted in The Arts

“Seventeen Samurai”
Paramount Theatre
Rutland | Jan. 26

Formed in 1993, this Japanese drum-and-dance troupe crisscrossed its native country for about a decade before breaking out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since then, they have toured the globe, offering a kinetic blitz of percussion, choreography and costumes. 
The Arizona Republic said: “The explosive sounds and insistent rhythms create a 
sort of epic visceral thrill.”
7 p.m., $45.50,

Middlebury College Museum of Art
Jan. 29–April 24

Some 200 works are on exhibit, curated to showcase “the spectacular craftsmanship and sophisticated design long associated with Japan, and convey the complex social and cultural tensions in Japan leading up to World War II.” The college says the works — including paintings, ceramics, sculpture, fashion and other art forms — are drawn from the Levenson Collection, described as the world’s premier private collection of Japanese art in the deco and modern style.

Flynn MainStage
Burlington | Jan. 29

The courage of the Tuskegee airmen, trailblazers in the fight to fully integrate the U.S. military, has been celebrated in many ways through films, documentaries, TV episodes and more. This stage dramatization, written and directed by Layon Gray, opened in Los Angeles in 2009 and moved shortly after to New York, where it continues as one of the longest-running plays in off-Broadway history. Such success speaks for itself, and the drama can melt the heart of even the professionally hard to please. “As manipulative, obvious and sentimental as it is,” Jason Zinoman wrote in the New York Times, “this show is also tough to resist. By the end, when the pilots overcame their obstacles and finally got up into the air to the swelling of music, tears welled up in my eyes right after I rolled them.”
8 p.m., $36,

Middlebury College Museum of Art
Feb. 2–28

Exceedingly rare, worth millions and incalculably influential, a 1623 volume known as Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to Middlebury College as part of a monthlong series of events. The copy on display is owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., which holds 82 of the 233 known surviving copies of the book, renowned for containing the first printed versions of many of Shakespeare’s plays. The library is marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616 with a national touring exhibit, and Middlebury College will round out the occasion with gallery tours, performances, lectures and film screenings.

Mahaney Center 
for the Arts
Middlebury | Feb. 19

A native of British Columbia now based in New York, trumpeter and vocalist Bria Skonberg is well known in trad jazz circles — she swept all the categories in which she was nominated at the Hot House magazine awards in 2014 — but her audience is potentially much wider. Melodic with a light touch, she has drawn comparisons to Diana Krall, and the Wall Street Journal said Skonberg is “poised to be one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” Her Middlebury program will include an ode to Louis Armstrong, as well as jazz standards and original compositions.
8 p.m., $20,

Brian Eno’s “Music 
for Airports”
Burlington | Feb. 19

Ambient music — painterly soundscapes that can reward concentrated listening, or purr in the background as aural wallpaper — was essentially invented in 1978 by Brian Eno, who laid out his vision in the album, “Music for Airports.” Eno’s paradoxical idea (music “as ignorable as it is interesting”) goes a step further with a live concert, performed by the house band from Bang on a Can, the New York–based arts organization. “Music for Airports” was created with layered tape loops, but the All-Stars will replicate the album using piano, clarinet, bass, guitar, percussion and voices.
7 and 9:30 p.m., $40,

Flynn MainStage.
Burlington | Feb. 24

With Vermont in the mid-
winter deep freeze, the Flynn offers a tropical vacation of sorts via sun-splashed sounds by performers from equatorial climes. The evening includes sophisticated fusion singer Emeline Michel of Haiti, Brazilian samba group Casuarina, and Jamaican guitarist Brushy One-String, whose style is stripped down, to say the least. The event occurs under the banner of Globalfest, the world music and cultural advancement organization based in New York.
7:30 p.m., $36,

Chandler Center 
for the Arts
Randolph | Feb. 26

After a modest start at a church fundraiser in Prince Edward Island, Ten Strings and a Goat Skin began to make waves on the Canadian roots music scene in 2013 and by 2015 had earned the East Coast Music Association Award for world recording of the year. The bilingual group has also traveled widely, performing at Summerfest in Wisconsin, Artsplosure in North Carolina, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient in France. The Guardian, the prestige U.K. newspaper, said, “this on-fire fiddle-guitar-percussion trio have harnessed an Acadian 
traditional spirit between them that is completely intoxicating, playing everything from French to Irish to even Gypsy music.”
7:30 p.m., $20,

UVM Recital Hall
Burlington | Feb. 26

The Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet is a mission-driven group, formed in 2006 by the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to building diversity in classical music and engaging younger audiences in the art form. In this quest, the quartet has played at jazz festivals (Panama City, Montreal), appeared on network television, traveled internationally, and performed in 2009 at the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The group has also collaborated with jazz pianist Chick Corea, whose composition, “The Adventures of Hippocrates,” will be part of the UVM performance, along with works by Mozart and Mendelssohn. The evening also includes, on viola, guest artist Ida Kavafian, an artist-member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Preconcert talk 6:30 p.m., showtime 7:30 p.m., $40,

Vermont Jazz Center
Brattleboro | March 12

Riding out the fads, Fred Hersch had been quietly part of the New York scene since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the middle of the last decade that the world caught up to him. A weeklong residency at the Village Vanguard marked a turning point, and a feature-length profile in 2010 in the New York Times Magazine argued definitively for his brilliance, calling his music “too romantic for the avant-garde and far too serious for the lounges … luxurious, free-flowing, unashamedly gorgeous jazz.” Grammy Awards and other accolades have flowed his way in the current decade, and late in 2015, he appeared for the first time on the cover of Downbeat, the iconic jazz magazine. As he continues to tour and record, he is writing a memoir, tentatively titled “Good Things Happen Slowly,” scheduled for release in the spring of 2017.
8 p.m., $40,

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