Entertainment Highlights: Singing, With Spirit

Published: 8/8/2016 8:58:00 AM
Modified: 5/28/2015 12:00:00 AM
Almost as soon as she moved back to the Upper Valley in 2012, Margaret Hunton of Lebanon hit the ground, and the stage, running.

And acting.

And singing.

“I’ve been involved in at least 15 shows, either on stage or behind the scenes,” Hunton, who had lived in Norwich before moving with her family to the Midwest at age 13, estimated this week. “Not to mention concerts, Messiah sings, etc. I’ve performed with ArtisTree, Opera North, NCCT (North Country Community Theater), BarnArts, Parish Players and the Bel Canto Chamber Singers.

“And now, Cantare Con Spirito.”

In searching his network for a mezzo soprano for two concerts of operas and spirituals at ArtisTree Community Arts Center this weekend, Cantare Con Spirito (Latin for “sing with spirit”) founder and baritone Jarvis Green realized he could just about make a local call to round out the ensemble of mostly out-of-town performers.

“I decided to go with this program, in March, so there was no time do hold auditions,” Green, musical director at ArtisTree, said this week. “The big thing for this group is chemistry, so I’m like, ‘Oh, Margaret!’ I absolutely love her voice. She’s got a lot of great energy, and is super-committed to local arts programming.”

Green experienced that voice and that commitment while directing Hunton in the ArtisTree and Pentangle Arts production of Fiddler on the Roof this past winter, as well as in Porgy and Bess for BarnArts. During Porgy and Bess, Hunton worked with Cantare sopranos Jasmine Thomas and Alexandra Smith, mezzo soprano Tesia Kwarteng, baritone Barry Robinson and tenor Ken Alston. And tenor Marco Jordao, from the Metropolitan Opera, sang in a BarnArts winter concert that Green directed along with Hunton.

“The only member I have not had the pleasure of working with before is our wonderful music director (and pianist), Michael Caldwell,” Hunton said.

Given that the rest of the ensemble lives and works in New York or Baltimore, those past collaborations should come in handy in a program that will range from operas of Mozart, Verdi and Bizet to spirituals arranged by Moses Hogan and H.T. Burleigh and one composed by Hall Johnson.

“Jarvis did organize two rehearsals in New York City, and I was able to attend one of those,” Hunton said. “Ultimately, it will all come together when everyone is up here for rehearsal before the concerts. With a performance like this, most of the preparation is done individually, with a day or two to pull it together into a cohesive unit, which is unique, miraculous and affective.

“For me the challenges are dependent on the song. Sometimes it’s the rhythm, sometimes it’s the harmonies, sometimes it’s the language. … It’s most important to express the emotion. Both genres have a lot of passion, and really expressing the feeling of a piece, whether that be pain, joy, heartache, yearning or what have you, is vital to a successful performance.”

Green said that he and most members of the group have been either performing or studying the music recently in lessons or other ensembles.

“A lot of this repertoire is in our bank, so to speak, and is ready to be performed,” Green said. “The big thing for this group is chemistry. We’re colleagues, but we’re mostly friends. That’s part of what makes Margaret a perfect fit. She loves to perform, but she’s also selfless.”

She’s also thrilled to find herself singing and playing in the area where the performing bug originally bit her.

“My very first on-stage experience was with NCCT when I was 8,” said Hunton, whose day job is writing proposals for the Lowell, Mass.-based American Capital Energy. “I also did a theater summer camp at the Ray School in fifth grade, I think, and the sixth-grade play at Marion Cross. … The unique thing about the Upper Valley, in my mind, is the opportunities out there for adults. I’ve lived in Illinois, Iowa and New York, and none of them had the community theater or community choral opportunities the Upper Valley has.”

Cantare Con Spirito will perform “An Evening of Opera and Spirituals” at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30. To reserve tickets ($20) and learn more, visit artistreevt.org or jarvisantoniogreen.com or call 802-457-3500. Events leading up to the performances include rehearsals this afternoon at 1 at ArtisTree, at 1 p.m. on Friday at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Public Library, and at 1:30 on Saturday afternoon at the library.

Best Bets

Among the many reasons to attend, or even sign up to perform at, the West Newbury Hall’s annual Variety Show on Saturday night: Veteran fiddler Jean-Nil Theroux will play some of the French-Canadian tunes that he learned in logging camps around northern New England before the age of the chain saw. In 2012, Theroux and South Newbury fiddler Patrick Ross performed much of that music at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and recorded it for the Smithsonian Institution’s Folk Life Center. The variety show begins at 7 p.m.; admission is by donation. To sign up to sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, dance or showcase other skills at the show, email westnewburyhall@gmail.com.

∎ The jazz band Swing Time will set the rhythm for a night of swing dance at Dartmouth College’s Common Ground on Saturday. The band consists of vocalist Susan Brison, pianist Bob Merrill, saxophonist Fred Haas, bass master Peter Concilio and drummer Tim Gilmore. In advance of the main event, which starts at 9 , newcomers to the genre can get a lesson in nightclub two-step at 8 and a lesson in classic swing at 8:30. Admission is $10 for non-students.

∎ On Sunday night at 7:30 in Tunbridge Town Hall, Grammy Award-winning record producer Jim Rooney will join forces with Nashville Hall of Fame songwriter Pat Alger and songwriter Chris Brashear for a concert on the theme of “In it for the Long Run.” Rooney’s producing work in Nashville included Nanci Griffith’s recording of Alger’s Once in A Very Blue Moon. The three will trade songs and stories about their journeys through the business. For advance tickets ($15), visit mtnfolk.org or the South Royalton Market. Tickets at the door are $20. For more information, call 802-765-4454.

Theater/Performance Art

Starting tonight at 7, the Meadow Lounge at the Mountain Meadow Events Center between West Canaan and Canaan will hold open-mics for stand-up comedians on the last Thursday of each month. For more information, or to sign up as a performer, visit mountainmeadoweventcenter.com and click on Meadow Lounge.

∎ As part of Rural Vermont’s Hemp History Week, the Upper Valley Food Co-op in White River Junction will host a session of Hemp Storytelling on Wednesday night at 6:30. Hemp-themed snacks will be served, and there will be discussions of hemp legislation, cultivation and production. To learn more, visit ruralvermont.org or uppervalleyfood.coop , or call 802-223-7222 or 802-295-5804.


The Camerata New England trio of violinist Omar Guey, cellist Linda Galvan and pianist Evelyn Zuckerman will perform works of Mozart and Robert Schumann at the Norwich Congregational Church on Friday night at 7. For advance tickets ($30; free for ages 18 and under with purchase of an adult ticket) and more information, visit cameratanewengland.org or call 802-785-4833.

∎ Anthony Princiotti will conduct the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, on Sunday afternoon at 2 in Spaulding Auditorium. For tickets ($10 to $15) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

∎ The chamber music collective Decoda will join Scrag Mountain Music artistic directors Evan Premo and Mary Bonhag for three concerts this weekend in central Vermont, including 7:30 on Saturday night at First Light Studios in Randolph. The other dates are Friday night at 7:30 in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Montpelier and Sunday afternoon at 4 in the Warren United Church. While admission is free, donations are welcome. To learn more, visit scragmountainmusic.org.

∎ Gospel virtuoso Mary Cay Brass will lead the 85-member River Singers Chorus in performing a wide spectrum of world music at the White Church in Grafton, Vt., on Saturday night at 7:30. Admission ($10-$14) benefits the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures Program at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. For more information, visit marycaybrass.com or email mcbrass@vermontel.net.


As part of the weekly worship service at the North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock on Sunday morning, choreographer Peggy Brightman will lead the modern-dance ensemble Moving Spirit Vermont in a blend of music, verse and dance inspired by Wendell Berry’s poem The Peace of Wild Things. The service starts at 10.


The Vision of Light Church in Hartland will play host to a Mediums Day on Sunday afternoon from 12:30 to 3. Conducting readings will be Drew Call (psychic), Patty McDonald (tarot), Anne Mitts (angel cards and pet readings), Kelly Chesley (psychic, medical intuitive readings, shamanic healing), Alison Robinson (psychic intuitive) and Bonnie Waters (angel cards). A 15-minute reading costs $15. Also, Ramona Nault will take aura photos for $35, including readings; at least 12 clients must pre-register for aura photos. To learn more or to sign up for readings, email bonnie_songgarden@hotmail.com.


The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is inviting submissions for its 2015 festival, scheduled for Aug. 27-30 in downtown Middlebury, Vt. The next deadline to submit movies, via Withoutabox and FilmFreeway, is this coming Sunday, at fees of $55 for a feature-length movie and $40 for a short. From Monday through June 15, the fees are $60 for a feature and $45 for a short. To learn more about the guidelines for festival submissions, visit middfilmfest.org/submit-a-film/. Anyone interested in attending the festival can acquire a pass for the whole weekend at $75. Other passes are $25 for opening night, $28 for a day pass, and $11 for an individual movie. Additional information is at middfilmfest.org.

Bar and Club Circuit

The bluegrass and reggae trio Supply & Demand will play at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock tonight at 8.

∎ Jazz guitarist Rowley Hazard will perform at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight starting at 7. Following him to the club stage with 7 p.m. shows over the coming weekend will be roots singer-songwriter (and 1970 Stevens High School grad) Cormac McCarthy on Friday, the guitar duo of Gerry Putnam and Tom Pirozzoli on Saturday, acoustic folk veteran Joseph Stallsmith on Sunday, guitarist Phil Singer on Tuesday and pianist Gillian Joy on Wednesday. And on Monday night between 5:30 and 8:30, Marko the Magician will perform tableside sleight-of-hand.

∎ Mo’Combo will fill Salt hill Pub in Lebanon with its blend of rock, soul, funk and R&B on Friday night at 9. At the same time on Saturday, FLEW-Z will rock the house.

∎ Singer-guitarist Jim Hollis will perform at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday night starting at 5.

∎ The Adam McMahon Trio will play a set of acoustic rock at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Friday night at 9. And on Saturday night at 9, the folk/blues/barroom rock ensemble Borderstone will take the stage.

∎ The Joshua Incident will perform its alt -country repertoire at the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse on Friday night at 7.

∎ The weekend lineup at Salt hill Pub in Newport features acoustic rocker Toby Moore, former frontman for Yer Mother’s Onion, on Friday night at 9, followed at 9 on Saturday night by Frydaddy lead singer Carlos Ocasio with a solo set.

∎ Sensible Shoes will fire up all dancers’ nerve endings at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 9.

∎ Big Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction presents its annual Upper Valley Young Musicians Night on Friday night from 5 to 8, followed on Saturday night from 6 to 8 by Two Random Guys.

∎ The Vagabonds pull into Windsor Station on Saturday night at 9, followed by bluesman Larry Dougher 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 email scrabblespoppy@gmail.com.

∎ Clay Canfield hosts an open mic at Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock on Saturday nights at 7, followed by dancing at 10 under the supervision of video-jockey Rich Meijer. Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentley’s on Monday nights at 8:30 p.m.

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

∎ 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 Tuesday, beginning at 8 p.m.

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

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


Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon will be hosting open-mic sessions on Tuesday nights at 8, starting on June 2. Anthony Princiotti will conduct the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, on Sunday afternoon at 2 in Spaulding Auditorium. An earlier version of this story gave incorrect dates.

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