Headliners: ‘A Far Cry’ at Sweeney Concert Hall; ‘Deceptive Practice’ at Academy of Music

Last modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014

A cry of players

Consisting (usually) of 18 string players plus a percussionist, the Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry functions with a rotating leadership and no conductor. Artistic decisions are made by vote and the individual members — known as Criers — handle all details of management and promotion. With the exception of the cellists, the ensemble stands while performing, “supplying flourishes and cadenzas full of Gypsy swoons and swirls” (The New York Times), perhaps indicative of their stated determination “to wrestle the music we love back from the cultural baggage it’s accumulated.”

Appearing in Smith College’s Sweeney Concert Hall Feb. 7 as part of the Music in Deerfield series, the Criers will be paying tribute to the diversity of American musical styles with a program that includes works by Charles Ives (Largo and Scherzo from “3 Short Pieces”), George Gershwin (“Lullaby”), Kip Jones (“Three Views of a Mountain”), the Russian-American composer Lev (Ljova) Zhurbin, plus a chamber arrangement of Anton Dvorák’s “American” quintet.

8 p.m. Preconcert conversation at 7 p.m. Advance tickets: $28 general; $10 students over 18; $5 students under 18; $10 accompanying adult with the purchase of one under-18 ticket. At door: $32/$10/$5/$10. 774-4200, musicindeerfield.org

Prestidigitator extraordinaire

A sleight-of-hand expert famous for his manipulation of cards, dice and coins, feats of memory, knowledge of con games and garrulous stage manner, Ricky Jay is also a scholar, author, TV personality and Hollywood consultant and actor who you might have seen in such films as “House of Games,” “Tomorrow Never Dies”and “Boogie Nights.” Among his feats are the ability to slice a playing card into a watermelon by throwing it at 90 miles an hour (and then to rifle one card after another into the same spot). Having lunch with a BBC interviewer one day he casually produced a square-foot block of ice from beneath his menu. A lengthy profile in The New Yorker has tagged him “perhaps the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive” while noting that “those most familiar with his idiosyncrasies realize that there are at least three Ricky Jays: a public persona, a private persona, and a private persona within the private persona.”

Set for a screening on Feb. 9 at the Academy of Music as part of the Northampton Arts Council’s Four Sundays in February series, “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” won’t tell you much about Jay’s private persona or reveal any of his tricks but delves instead into the roots of his artistry (he was performing by age 4) and the range of his achievements. Ten years in the making, the documentary is the work of filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein, the latter of whom grew up in Northampton and graduated from UMass.

2 p.m. $8 advance; $10 at door. deceptivepractice.brownpapertickets.com

— Dan DeNicola


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