Sophie Shao and friends
Praised by World News for her “sensitive, stylistic playing, with great finesse, emotion, and gorgeous tone,” cellist Sophie Shao — a perennial Middlebury favorite — has surrounded herself with some of the most talented artists in music. She returns for her 10th consecutive season on the Middlebury Performing Arts Series stage with a new ensemble of friends, performing works by Haydn, Bridge and Dvorak at the Mahaney Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Series Director Allison Coyne Carroll continues to re-engage Shao, stating, “Sophie Shao and her seemingly endless collective of talented friends have refined the collaborative and impromptu chamber music concert into an exhilarating art form.”
Shao, winner of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and top prizes at the Rostropovich and Tchaikovsky competitions, is a versatile and passionate artist whose performances the New York Times has noted as “eloquent, powerful” and the Washington Post called “deeply satisfying.” This year’s friends include violinists Nikki Chooi, who begins his appointment as concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra this season; Carmit Zori, artistic director of the Brooklyn Chamber Music Society; former New York Philharmonic principal violist Paul Neubauer; and young American pianist Orion Weiss.
Tickets are $30, $10 for 18 and younger; call 802-443-MIDD (6433), or go online to www.middlebury.edu/arts/tickets. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road, just off Route 30 south.
Bow Thayer at Chaffee
Local treasure Bow Thayer will be performing live at The Chaffee Arts Center on Route 7 at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1. Thayer makes his Chaffee debut with a duo, which includes Alex Abraham on bass. This will be the first of a music series at the Chaffee that will continue the first Thursday of each month.
Thayer has been singing and writing songs for as long as he can remember. Making music is who he is. Finally gaining national recognition, American Songwriter says this “onetime Levon Helm compatriot is the best artist to come from New England in recent years.”
Thayer made a name for himself in Boston with 7 League Boots, a rock/reggae band that shared the stage with the likes of Fugazi, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Pearl Jam. Fifteen years ago, he made a life-altering decision to leave the city for Vermont. It was here that he explored the Delta blues, playing slide guitar for the original Elbow, and began a relationship with the banjo — both in the bluegrass group, The Benders, and on his own — that continues to this day.
Thayer’s newest release, “The Source and The Servant,” is a tribute to two legends who have influenced his development as an artist: Dock Boggs and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Thayer has re-invented these songs with new arrangements and lyrics, and performs most of them on different acoustic and electric versions of the Bojotar, a stringed instrument that incorporates elements of the banjo, resonator guitar, and conventional guitar. The electric version is currently available for sale from the Eastwood/Airline Guitar Company.
Tickets are $7 at the door; for information, go online to www.chaffeeartcenter.org.
New musical award
The writing-composing team of Aryanna Garber and Benjamin Velez is the winner of the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company’s 12th annual New Musical Award for their musical “Borderline.” Two free public concerts of selections will be presented at 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Weston Playhouse at Walker Farm.
The only award of its kind in the country, the Weston New Musical Award brings the creator or creators of a promising new project together with a small ensemble of actors to rehearse and record selections from the winning score with Grammy winner Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records.
Nominated for the award by Di Glazer, of International Creative Management Partners, “Borderline” is a musical about Anna, a young woman living with Borderline Personality Disorder who struggles to find a semblance of normalcy and intimacy amidst a revolving door of therapists, medications and dysfunctional relationships. Glazer writes that “Garber’s book challenges the stigma of BPD, Velez’s lyrics capture the protagonist’s inner turmoil and the frustrations of the people she surrounds herself with, and his music works as a form of therapy for all the characters.”
To reserve free tickets, go online to www.westonplayhouse.org.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, March 3, Phoenix Books Rutland will host a story time with Sarah Dillard, featuring her new book, “Mouse Scouts Make Friends.” This darling series is just right for chapter book readers ages 7-10; all ages are invited. Dillard was briefly a Brownie and a Junior Scout, and lives in Waitsfield with her husband.
When Miss Poppy assigns the troop a new badge — “Making Friends” — the girls think it will be easy. They’re already friends, so what more is there to do? But when the Acorn Scouts learn they will need to team up with the boys in the Maple Scouts as part of the badge, everything changes. Suddenly, Tigerlily seems more interested in hanging out with her Maple Scout pal than in being friends with Violet.
Admission is free; call 802-855-8078 or go online to www.phoenixbooks.biz. Phoenix Books Rutland is located at 2 Center St.
‘Mothers and Sons’
The Dorset Players present “Mothers and Sons,” Terence McNally’s 2014 Tony-nominated play. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. March 2, 3, 9 and 10, and 2 p.m. March 4 and 11, at the Dorset Playhouse.
The play tells the story of an older woman, who pays an unexpected visit to the New York apartment of her late son’s partner, who is now married to another man and has a young son. Challenged to see how society has changed around her, generations collide as she revisits the past and begins to see the life her son might have led.
For tickets or information, call 802-867-5570, or go online to www.dorsetplayers.org.
“Without music, life would be a mistake,” avowed the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Taconic Music Artistic Directors Joana Genova, violin and Ariel Rudiakov, viola, joined by their longtime colleagues Nathaniel Parke, cello and Elizabeth Wright, piano, will present an hour-long concert at Zion Episcopal Church at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24.
Whether you are a seasoned concertgoer or have never attended a chamber music concert before, Taconic Music’s rendition of Mozart’s lyrical Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major and Schumann’s triumphant Piano Trio No. 2 in F major will touch your heart and brighten your day. Mozart wrote his second piano quartet in 1785, Schumann his second piano trio in 1847, but the music is timeless and powerful.
Admission is by donation ($15 suggested); for information, go online to www.taconicmusic.org.
Stone Church Arts brings “Vermont History through Song” in this special concert of living history, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, the Chapel at Immanuel Episcopal Church, the stone church on the hill, 20 Church St.
Linda Radtke, joined by pianist Arthur Zorn, brings Vermont history to life with engaging commentary about the songs found in the Vermont Historical Society’s collection of sheet music. Dressed in period costume and using the music Vermonters published and sang in their communities, Radtke guides listeners through our state’s history, from the earliest published song, “Green Mountain Farmer” (1798), through 1850 temperance ballads and Civil War era songs, to songs about Vermonters Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Dewey and Jim Fisk.
Admission is by donation; call 802-460-0110, or go online to www.stonechurcharts.org.
‘Flip Side’ cabaret
Set aside (7:30 p.m.) Saturday, March 10, for “The Flip Side,” a special evening of cabaret song and style, benefiting the Brattleboro Concert Choir. The Performance Hall at the new Brattleboro Music Center will be the setting for a trip back in time, when clubs were swanky and the music cool.
Singers Junko Wantanabe, Jennifer Hansen, Peter Shea and Charles Mays, Jr. will join Concert Choir Director Susan Dedell, piano, for a smooth evening of cabaret entertainment. “You’ve heard them on the concert stage, you’ve seen them at the Marlboro Festival, and as soloists with the New England Bach Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, and the Boston Lyric Opera,” says Dedell. “But just wait until you hear them sing favorite show tunes, jazz standards and songs from the great American songbook.”
Table seating is $30, $20 for the balcony; call 802-257-4523, or go online to www.bmcvt.org.
The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company’s Weston 101 is back for its third year to prime theatergoers for its expanded 2018 season. Hosted by Director of Education/Artistic Associate Piper Goodeve, this pre-season backstage pass is a multi-media event series taking you – one by one – behind the scenes of each summer show; “West Side Story,” “Our Town,” “Fun Home,” and more.
101 video segments drop throughout the spring on Weston’s social media platforms (YouTube, Facebook) and via Email distribution. Two live engagement events are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Feb. 27 and March 13, at Weston Playhouse at Walker Farm. Goodeve and Producing Artistic Director Steve Stettler will screen two special films.
To register or learn more, go online to www.westonplayhouse.org.
Arts Preview: February 22-28, 2018