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Entertainment Highlights: The Nile Project Deals in Education and Empathy



Thursday, April 16, 2015
A river runs through it. Or make that through them.

The Nile crosses 11 countries in northeast Africa, draining and nourishing and sometimes flooding them, generating hydro power as well as friction among the more than 400 million people who live there.

And it runs through the touring musicians of The Nile Project, who on Friday and Saturday will share with Upper Valley audiences in Hanover and Claremont the sounds they’ve discovered, and continue to discover, while blending and adapting the rhythms of those very different countries.

“There’s a lot of joy,” Ethiopian-American singer and Nile Project co-founder Meklit Hadero said in a phone conversation last week from Middletown, Conn., where the troupe was performing and teaching at Wesleyan University about the river’s environmental, political and cultural complications. “It’s a sonic adventure, a travel adventure, a conceptual adventure.”

With logistical and networking help from Margaret Lawrence, director of programming at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center, the North American leg of the adventure began in January at GlobalFest in New York City. Since then, The Nile Project has been visiting mostly university towns and, in many cases, the school systems surrounding them. The musical message of cooperation goes hand-in-hand with efforts to raise awareness about the countries, beyond the headlines and cable-news spots depicting mostly strife and suffering, especially since the implosion of the democracy movements of the Arab Spring of 2011.

In the Upper Valley this week, those efforts included a “watershed camp” at Rivendell Academy in Orford for ages 7 to 16, co-organized by the Hopkins Center, Upper Valley Land Trust and AVA Gallery and Art Center. Those efforts have evolved from similar programs the project conducted in the Nile region.

“We’d like to get younger students at the age where they’re still impressionable,” said Mina Girgis, an ethnomusicologist from Egypt who co-founded the project with Hadero. “It’s amazing how adults in the Nile basin can’t see the simple and innate connections. ‘Where is this water coming from?’ ‘How does it affect downstream countries?’ Music can cut through some of that in a really potent way.

“Listening is an important skill that a lot of people don’t have. This (project) is about collaborating in a way that everyone has an equal voice.”

The Nile Project’s many voices first came together in January 2013, with workshops that musical director Miles Jay organized for musicians from Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to listen to each other singing and playing instruments ranging from Egypt’s mandolin-like oud and a spectrum of percussion instruments to the ikembe, a lamellaphone (also known as a “thumb piano”) common to Rwanda and Burundi. When half a dozen new musicians cycled into the rotation of players last fall to prepare for the North American tour, they went through another workshop.

“Before we even got together, we developed a course of listening to each other’s music,” Hadero said. “Every week we would focus on a different scale system or song structure. We had 10 weeks of listening leading up to the workshop.”

And for the 10 weeks since GlobalFest, where they earned raves from critics from The New York Times, among others, they’ve been fine-tuning their messages and their sound.

“There’s a lot of heavy stuff we deal with, so the music is the joy part,” Hadero said. “When we’re on stage, it’s all about pouring our hearts out, sharing that joy. Making people dance.

“At its heart, it’s about feeling the empathy.”

Before its full concert at 8 on Friday night at Spaulding Auditorium, The Nile Project will perform a one-hour matinee at 2 in the afternoon at Spaulding, aimed at children and families but open to all. And on Saturday, as part of the HopStop Family series, The Nile Project will perform two free concerts: at 11 a.m. in the Hopkins Center’s Alumni Hall and at 3 p.m. at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center in Claremont. Tickets for the Friday matinee are $15 general admission. For tickets ($17 to $35) to and more information about the nighttime performance, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Best Bets

Decisions, decisions: On Sunday, devotees of chamber music face the following choices.

∎ At 3 p.m., Camerata New England will present piano quartets by Mozart, Brahms and Joaquin Turina at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lebanon. Violininst Omar Guey, violist Peter Sulksi, cellist Linda Galvan and pianist Evelyn Zuckerman will perform Mozart’s K. 493 in E flat, Brahms’ Opus 25 in G minor and Turina ’ s Opus 67 in A minor. The recital begins at 3. For tickets ($30 to $35 for ages 18 and older) and more information, visit cameratanewengland.org/season.html or call 802-785-4833.

∎ At 6 p.m., violinist Helen Kim will perform works by Manuel De Falla, Johannes Brahms and Cesar Franck at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. Pianist Sakiko Ohashi will accompany Kim during her concert, To reserve tickets ($10 to $20) and to learn more, visit pentanglearts.org or call 802-457-3981.

∎ At 7 p.m., clarinetist Martin Frost will join the Australian Chamber Orchestra at Dartmouth’s Spaulding Auditorium to perform works of Prokofiev, Mozart, Haydn and Jonny Greenwood. For tickets ($17 to $60) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Looking Ahead

The raw Shakespeare Company will kick off its second annual Shakespeare Workshop at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library on April 23. The workshop will read between the lines of the Bard’s work at 6:30 p.m. for six weeks. With limited space, the fee is $120 for the full six weeks, with proceeds going to rSc’s staging of Twelfth Night.

∎ Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will lead their bands into Dartmouth’s Spaulding Auditorium on April 24 , for a jazz twin-bill for the ages. The show starts at 8; for tickets ($17 to $50) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422. Before the main event, Coltrane will lead a master class with Dartmouth-student jazz performers, at 3 p.m. in the Hop’s Faulkner Recital Hall; admission is free.

Theater/Performance Art

Northern Stage continues its four-week run of Tony-winning composer Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World at the Briggs Opera House with a matinee at 2 this afternoon, 7:30 performances tonight, Friday night and Saturday night, a 5 p.m. show on Sunday, and 7:30 stagings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The musical follows the intersecting stories of characters trying to find their way from an immigrant ship to a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in New York. For tickets ($14 to $54) and more information, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

∎ Comedian Kathleen Madigan takes the stage at the Lebanon Opera House on Sunday night at 7:30. Winner of the American Comedy Award and the Phyllis Diller award for best female comedian, Madigan is the only performer to go unchallenged by a peer on the NBC reality show Last Comic Standing. For tickets ($27 to $29) and more informaton, call 603-448-0400, or visit lebanonoperahouse.org or the box office in City Hall.

Music

Acoustic guitarist Pierre Bensusan steps to the microphone tonight at 8 at the Flying Goose Brew Pub and Grille in New London. To reserve tickets ($20) or learn more, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

∎ Americana’s Most Wanted will play classic country and folk music at the Claremont Opera House on Saturday night at 7:30. For tickets ($15) and more information, visit claremontoperahouse.org or call 603-542-4433.

∎ The Navy Band Northeast ships inland from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., to Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall on Sunday afternoon, for a concert that will range across jazz, pop, classic rock, rhythm and blues, classical, big band, country, and patriotic tunes. Admission is free to the show, which starts at 2.

∎ Friday afternoon at 5 in the Black Family Visual Arts Center, the Dartmouth College Glee Club will perform a suite of songs based on the poems of Dartmouth student Christina Porter, a member of the class of 2006 who died in 2005. Singers include senior soprano Emma Orme, who sang in the Hopkins Center’s recent production of Figaro! (90210). Admission is free.

∎ The African Children’s Choir will perform in the Upper Valley three times in the coming week, starting Sunday with shows in Springfield, Vt., at 9:30 a.m. at the Calvary Baptist Church and at 7 p.m. at Springfield High School. And on Wednesday night at 7, the ensemble will sing at Claremont Opera House. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, call 802-885-2349 about the Sunday shows, and for the Claremont show, call 603-542-4433 or visit claremontoperahouse.org.

∎ On Wednesday night at Dartmouth’s Spaulding Auditorium, the eight-member Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain will push the envelope of the Hawaiian instrument’s range by performing works of Tchaikovsky, Nirvana and Otis Redding as well as themes from spaghetti Westerns. The show starts at 7. To reserve tickets ($17 to $50) and learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Film

On Saturday night at Colby-Sawyer College’s Wheeler Hall in New London, the school’s Sustainability Core will screen the documentary Blue Gold, based on the Maude Barlow and Tony Clark book, Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water. Admission is free.

Bar and Club Circuit

Singer-guitarist Jack Beecham will range among ragtime, country blues and jazz at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight starting at 7. Following him to the club stage with 7 p.m. shows over the coming week will be jazz guitarist Ted Mortimer on Friday, pianist Keith Bush on Saturday, singer-pianist Karen Liot Hill on Sunday and guitarist Phil Singer on Tuesday. On Monday night between 5:30 and 8:30, Marko the Magician will perform his regular, tableside sleight-of-hand.

∎ The Better Days Band will play a set of classic rock at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday night starting at 9. At the same time on Saturday, the Almost Even rock quartet will perform.

∎ Guitarist Billy Rosen and double-bass master Peter Concilio will fuse their skills in a set of jazz at the Silo Distillery in Windsor on Friday night starting at 5:30.

∎ The duo of Doug Morse and Jim Roberts will perform at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday, starting at 5 p.m.

∎ The Tricksters will play their blend of latter-day rock and pop at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Friday night at 9, followed at the same time Saturday night by pop-folk-Americana aficionado Joe Young.

∎ Enfield troubador Brooks Hubbard will celebrate his 23rd birthday with a performance in the Draper Room of the Center at Eastman in Grantham on Friday night at 7.

∎ The Squids will deliver dance music at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 9.

∎ Graydon James and Laura Spink, members of the Toronto-based roots band The Young Novelists, will play at the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse on Friday night at 7.

∎ The weekend lineup at Salt hill Pub in Newport features the Conniption Fits rock trio on Friday night at 9, then Frydaddy fearless leader Carlos Ocasio with a solo acoustic set at the same hour on Saturday.

∎ Guitar-wizard and songwriter Tom Pirozzoli will headline the Andover Community Coffeehouse on Friday night at 7, at the Highland Lake Grange Hall in East Andover, N.H. Aspiring musicians are welcome to perform during the open-mic segment between 6 and 7.

∎ The weekend lineup of entertainment at Big Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction starts Friday night at 6 with the Old Etna Music Association performing an acoustic set, followed Saturday at 6 by singer-guitarist Brian Warren.

∎ The Americana/roots band Sundown Hollow pulls into Windsor Station on Saturday night at 9, followed by Dave Clark and Jed Dickinson on Tuesday night at 6.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10. For more information, call Jim Abbott at 802-431-3619 or send email to scrabblespoppy@gmail.com.

∎ The Scapegoats are leading a new open-mic night at Crossroads Bar and Grill in South Royalton, Monday nights from 8 to 12.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock, on Mondays at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

∎ The ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret is inviting performers of all ages and abilities as well as devotees of music and performance art to an open mic from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 23, a week from tonight.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.