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Entertainment Highlights: A Mozart Work as ‘Difficult as Anything’

Handel Society Grapples With Mass in C-Minor

  • Shown at their Nov. 2013 concert, the Handel Society is to perform Mozart's "Mass in C Minor" at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center on May 17, 2014. (Rob Strong photograph)

    Shown at their Nov. 2013 concert, the Handel Society is to perform Mozart's "Mass in C Minor" at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center on May 17, 2014. (Rob Strong photograph)

  • The Upper Valley Music Center's Suzuki Showcase will be held at the Hanover High School auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on May 17, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

    The Upper Valley Music Center's Suzuki Showcase will be held at the Hanover High School auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on May 17, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Shown at their Nov. 2013 concert, the Handel Society is to perform Mozart's "Mass in C Minor" at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center on May 17, 2014. (Rob Strong photograph)
  • The Upper Valley Music Center's Suzuki Showcase will be held at the Hanover High School auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on May 17, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. (Courtesy photograph)

The way mountaineers find K2 — the second-highest peak on Earth — more of a challenge than mighty Everest, choral groups of ambition attempt to scale Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Mass in C Minor far less often in concert than his better-known Requiem Mass in D Minor.

None of which is deterring the 100-plus members of the Handel Society of Dartmouth College from shooting for the summit with two performances of the 19-movement package this weekend at Spaulding Auditorium.

“It’s as difficult as anything we have put up in our spring performances,” Handel Society director Robert Duff said this week. “We’ve done works like Bach’s St. Matthew Passion that all have their issues and challenges, but here we’re working with an opera composer who has given us long runs of notes that require stamina and vocal technique in a very different way.”

Enter the society’s secret weapon, opera singer Erma Mellinger of West Lebanon, whom Duff has called in for six seasons to tutor the Dartmouth undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff, and civilians who make up the group. For this Mozart work, she led voice lessons during early rehearsals in January, gave the singers 15 vocal exercises as daily homework, and in late April led a two-hour “reality check” before assigning yet more preparatory work.

“That’s a very European model,” Duff said. “It’s another set of ears. She’s very gifted. It’s good to have her in the room.”

About the only part more complicated than staging this Mass, which rarely happens in the United States, is the work that Harvard University pianist and scholar Robert Levin put into completing a work that Mozart set aside for lack of support from his royal and religious patrons, whose demands for simplification limited most choral works to 45 minutes. Levin, who had also picked up the torch of the Requiem to midwife a version most often played in the 21st century, hunted down documents all over central and northern Europe, material he employed to compose a bout 25 percent of the finished product.

Duff said that he heard the first performance of the Mass in C Minor during the Oregon Bach Festival in 2005, not long after Levin completed it.

“It’s an incredibly compelling work,” Duff said. “It immediately planted a seed for doing it here. It’s been in the hopper for about two years now.”

For all the rehearsals the chorus has been doing, only this week has it started working with the guest soloists, tenor Dann Coakwell, baritone David McFerrin and soprano Julia Steinbok, starting with a master class on Wednesday, and the first full rehearsal with the orchestra today.

“They’re very, very excited,” Duff said of his climbing team.

The concerts start at 8 on Saturday night and 2 on Sunday afternoon. Tickets cost $5-$15. For information visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Best Bets

During a mid-May Upper Valley weekend blooming with musical options, the West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts will present a recital and revival at the same time on Saturday: At 4 p.m., Rhonda Sider Edgington will explore the last century of organ music by playing the Union Church’s newly renovated instrument. In her presentation, “Modern Music for a Modern Age,” Edgington will perform pieces from England, Estonia, the Czech Republic and the United States, ranging from Eben’s Sunday Music of 1957 to Farrington’s Animal Parade of 2007. After the recital, Edgington will share with the audience her perspectives on the history of the organ and the variety of music written for it. For more information, visit wcc-ma.org.

Roots/rock veteran Steve Forbert completes a swing through the northeast and New England on Saturday night with a 7:30 concert at Alumni Hall in Haverhill. After migrating from his native Mississippi to busk his way through New York City, the singer-songwriter broke through in 1980 with his Romeo’s Tune, which hit No. 11 on the Billboard charts during the midst of the Punk revolution. Over the ensuing 3½ decades, this craftsman has earned a Grammy nomination with his album Any Old Time, and earned acclaim for his most recent package of new material, 2012’s Over With You. For tickets, at $20 a person, and more information, call 603-989-5500 or visit courtstreetarts.org.

Looking Ahead

The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra is preparing to blend the blue-skies optimism of Aaron Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring with the stormy weather of Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique in its May 24 concert at the college’s Spaulding Auditorium. The performance starts at 8, with ticket prices ranging from $10 and $15. For tickets and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422

As a benefit for the Upper Valley Haven, Etna comedian Cindy Pierce will reprise her “Comfort in the Stumble” routine about the encroachment of geezerhood at the Tupelo Music Hall on May 24 at 7 p.m. For tickets, which cost $30, and more information, visit tupelohallvermont.com.

Flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert leads his Luna Negra ensemble into Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on May 25, in the midst of a tour of his latest release, three-oh-five. Liebert, who also plays electric guitar, plays alongside Jon Gagan on upright acoustic bass and electric bass guitars, and Chris Steele on percussion and drums. Tickets cost $40 to $45. For more information, visit tupelohallvermont.com.

Theater/Performance Art

Aiming at audiences of age 7 and older, Theatreworks USA will stage a production of Peter Pan at the Claremont Opera House on Tuesday morning at 10. It is based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1982 adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan . Director David Schechter will tell the story through the eyes of six children in early 1900s England who choose Peter Pan for an evening of play-acting. Admission to the hour-long performance is $5. For advance tickets and more information, call 603-542-4433 or visit claremontoperahouse.org

The New England Classical Academy of Claremont will perform Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at Claremont Opera House on Friday and Saturday. Under the direction of Heidi Fagan, who adapted the play, more than 30 students in grades three to 12 will take the stage, including senior Samantha Lavertue as Paulina and junior Angelo Domina as Leontes. The curtain rises both nights at 7. For tickets and more information, visit newenglandclassicalacademy.com.

Ever wonder what goes into the making of public-radio programs of storytelling? This American Life founder/host Ira Glass will offer a behind-the-scenes primer, complete with audio clips and his standard style of narration, during his appearance at Rutland’s Paramount Theatre on Saturday night at 8. Tickets cost between $59.75 and $69.75. For reservations and more information, call 802-775-0903 or visit paramountvt.org.

Music

As part of Pentangle Arts’ Studio 31 series of concerts, Project Trio will defy the chamber-music genre in a concert at the Blue Horse Inn in Woodstock tonight at 7:30. The passionate ensemble from Brooklyn, N.Y., which debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2010, features double bassist Peter Seymour, flutist Greg Pattillo and cellist Eric Stephenson. Tickets cost $28. For reservations and more information, visit pentanglearts.org or call 802-457-3981.

In the regional equivalent of public radio’s From the Top program for rising young classical musicians, Chandler Music Hall in Randolph will host its sixth annual “The Next Generation” show on Friday, with 25 performers from around the Upper Valley and central Vermont. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., covering composers ranging from Bach and Handel in the early classical period through a composition by 16-year-old Felix Herron of Hanover. For tickets (costing $10-$20) and more information, visit chandler-arts.org, call 802-728-6464 or visit the box office weekday afternoons between 3 and 6.

The Brattleboro-bred band The Snaz brings its repertoire of all-original indie-rock songs to Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday night at 8. The all-teen foursome includes lead singer/guitarist Dharma Ramirez, drummer Zack James, Mavis Eaton at the keyboard and Sally Fletcher strumming the bass. For tickets (at $15 apiece), visit tupelohallvermont.com.

Under the direction of Bill Wightman, director of instrumental music and music technology at Proctor Academy, the Proctor Jazz Ensemble will perform its annual Jazz Show in Wheeler Hall at Colby-Sawyer College’s Ware Student Center in New London on Firday night at 7. For more information, call 603-735-6248 or send e-mail to wightman@proctornet.com.

More than 100 young (ages 3-17) practitioners of the violin, the viola and the cello from the Upper Valley Music Center’s Suzuki program will string into spring with a showcase concert at Hanover High School on Saturday afternoon at 2:30. They will perform an hour’s worth of works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Bartok, as well as traditional folk music. While admission is free, donations to UVMC’s scholarship fund are welcome.

For a thoroughgoing change of pace, consider the Saturday night appearance of very independent singers Res and Myra — known separately as Shareese Ballard and Myra Flynn — on the Northeast Tour of their show, The Acoustic Sessions, to Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction. Res, whose single They Say Vision hit the top of the Billboard dance chart and No. 37 on the Hot 100 singles-sales chart in 2002, mixes soul, rock and indie pop, while Myra, who grew up in Vermont blends indie, soul and folk sounds from her half-Irish, half-African-American heritage. Their show begins at 7, at $15 admission. For tickets and more information, visit tupelohallvermont.com.

Veteran musicians Fred Haas, Michael Zsoldos, Bob Merrill, Draa Hobbs, Peter Concilio, and Tim Gilmore will join forces with the jazz bands of Woodstock High School and Woodstock Middle School at 6 on Sunday night at Town Hall Theatre, for Pentangle Arts’ Jazz on the Town concert. Th is second annual c ollaboration will feature the work of the likes of John Coltrane, Red Garland and Kenny Dorham at the classic end of the spectrum and of modern composer/practitioners on the order of Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Avashai Cohen and Brian Blade. Admission ranges from $5 to $10. For more information, visit pentanglearts.org.

For those of us who associate Brazilian music primarily with samba and bossa nova, the World Music Percussion Ensemble will offer revelation and education with its concert in Spaulding Auditorium at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center on Wednesday night at 7. Under the direction of Hafiz Shabazz, the group will explore the fusion of European, African, and indigenous forms such as choro, frevo, batucada and forro as well as the more familiar genres. Guest artists performing with the ensemble include composer and Dartmouth professor of music David Newsam on guitar and singer Catherine Park. General-admission tickets cost $5-$10. For more information, call 603-646-2422.

Film

Pentangle Arts will screen the documentary Olafur Eliasson: Space is Process, at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre on Wednesday night at 6:30, in conjunction with the current exhibition of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s work at the Hall Art Foundation’s galleries in Reading, Vt. Filmmakers Henrik Lundo and Jacob Jorgensen will discuss the film during a reception after the movie at 8 at the Blue Horse Inn.

A 1950s pin-up model who preceded and presaged the sexual revolution of the 1960s is the subject of Bettie Page Reveals All, a documentary that Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center will show at Loew Auditorium on Friday night at 7. Tickets cost $5 to $8.

French director Jean Renoir did more than survive World War I: He harnessed the experience into a career in film that peaked with The Grand Illusion, the 4K digital restoration of which the Dartmouth Film Society will screen at Loew Auditorium on Saturday afternoon at 4. This anti-war masterpiece from 1937 — the first foreign film to win a Best Picture Oscar — so infuriated Joseph Goebbels that the Nazi propaganda czar had the original negative seized after the Germans occupied France in 1940. Tickets cost $5 to $8.

Some of us would pay to attend the theatrical release of a pharmaceutical commercial to see character actor Jim Broadbent on the big screen. Hence the temptation to see his latest performance, as an aging, beta-male Englishman struggling with mixed emotions and urges during a trip to Paris with his alpha-female wife (played by Lindsay Duncan) in Le-Weekend, the new feature by Notting Hill director Roger Michell. Tickets cost $5 to $8.

The next stop in the Dartmouth Film Society’s spring screening of director Wes Anderson’s work, Moonrise Kingdom, evokes either sighs of satisfaction for its flights of visual and aural fancy or groans of annoyance for its precious/arch/wink-wink-nudge-nudge narrative. For my part, I’ve seen this cinematic hurricane with two adolescent misfits in its eye — once on the big screen, once on my brother’s pretty-big TV screen, and might very well dive in again this coming Sunday at 4, at Loew Auditorium. As with Anderson’s previous feature, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, repeat viewings reveal details and treats that didn’t necessarily register first (or even second) time around. Tickets cost $5 to $8.

Occult/Paranormal

Seers and psychics of multiple stripes will read cards and palms and minds on Mediums Day at Vision of Light Church in Hartland on Sunday afternoon between 12:30 and 3. Readers will include Linda Carley, Lucia Read, Anne Mitts, Kelly Chesley and Allison Robinson. For more information, call 802-299-5083.

Bar and Club Circuit

The hard-rock trio Found Down returns to Salt hill Pub in Lebanon at 9 on Friday night. And on Saturday night at 9, Carlos Ocasio leads Frydaddy to the venue.

Linda and Ted Mortimer come to Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday night at 5.

The Frank Viele Trio, the New England Music Awards’ Live Act of the Year, comes to Salt hill Pub in Hanover for the first time at 9 on Friday night. And 24 hours later, the Please Don’t Tell band will play the venue.

The Upper Valley’s Mo’ Combo swoops into Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Friday night, starting at 8.

Baldilocks rocks the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday night starting at 9. The Saturday night set at the same venue will feature the mischievous Brian Warren and his mix of classic rock, folk and boogie, also at 9.

Hi-Way 5 plays at Windsor Station at 9 on Saturday night, followed Tuesday night at 6 by Pooh Sprague.

The weekly parade of music performers at the Canoe Club in Hanover starts tonight at 7 with the Asheville, N.C., duo of Dana and Susa Robinson sharing their interpretation of Americana with a harmonic convergence of guitar, banjo, fiddle and voice. Next up, all starting at 7, are folk and blues pianist Jonathan Kaplan on Friday, jazz guitarist and singer Ted Mortimer on Saturday, the jazz collaboration of singer Cyn Barrette and pianist Alki Steriopoulos on Tuesday, and pianist Gillian Joy on Wednesday. As a change of pace on Sunday, Ed Eastridge’s students will perform between 2 and 3 p.m. Marko the Magician makes his weekly tableside appearance at the club on Monday night at 6:30.

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.

With Jim Yeager as host, the Artistree Community Arts Center & Gallery in Woodstock holds an open mic for all levels and abilities on alternating Thursdays (May 8 and 22 this month) holds an open mic for all levels and abilities.

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

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

Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts 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.

Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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