Art Briefs: Classical music in Hadley, jazz in Amherst, and a unique art exhibit in Northampton 

An 1820 painting of Beethoven. Arcadia Players will perform sonatas by Beethoven, Haydn, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel Feb. 18 in Hadley.

An 1820 painting of Beethoven. Arcadia Players will perform sonatas by Beethoven, Haydn, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel Feb. 18 in Hadley. Image from Wikipedia/public domain

“Dead or Alive,” acrylic on paper by Abbie Steiner.

“Dead or Alive,” acrylic on paper by Abbie Steiner. courtesy New England Visionary Artists Museum

The Blue Note Quintet performs at UMass Amherst Feb. 22 as part of an extended tour to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the seminal jazz label Blue Note Records.

The Blue Note Quintet performs at UMass Amherst Feb. 22 as part of an extended tour to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the seminal jazz label Blue Note Records. Image from UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center website

Environmental writer and activist Catherine Coleman Flowers will give a keynote address at UMass Amherst Feb. 29 as part of the university’s activities for Black History Month.

Environmental writer and activist Catherine Coleman Flowers will give a keynote address at UMass Amherst Feb. 29 as part of the university’s activities for Black History Month. Photo by John D. and and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/Wikipedia

Director Ryan Arnold will screen his short horror/comedy film “Stove Bird” at Greenfield’s LAVA Center Feb. 24.

Director Ryan Arnold will screen his short horror/comedy film “Stove Bird” at Greenfield’s LAVA Center Feb. 24. Image courtesy LAVA Center

Northampton punk rockers HardCar will perform as part of the bill at Greenfield’s LAVA Center Feb. 24.

Northampton punk rockers HardCar will perform as part of the bill at Greenfield’s LAVA Center Feb. 24. Image courtesy LAVA Center

Published: 02-16-2024 8:46 AM

Haydn and Hummel in Hadley (with Beethoven)

HADLEY — Arcadia Players will give an early boost to spring, or least to the spirit of spring, on Feb. 18 with a performance of chamber works from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata” in F major.

The concert, at 3 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, features Emlyn Ngai on violin, Alice Robbins on cello, and Monica Jakuc Leverett on fortepiano.

Arcadia Players specializes in what’s known as historically informed performances: music designed to match the tone and style of the era in which a composition was written. In that sense, according to program notes, Beethoven’s sonata “takes on new clarity and color when played on the kind of instruments he would have heard in his own day.”

Also on the program are Haydn’s Trio in E major and Sonata in A major by the Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Hummel’s sonata, according to program notes, is not well known today but “was hailed as a great work in its time … with a virtuosic piano part that foreshadows the early Romantic style.”

Tickets are $35 at the door and are also available at arcadiaplayers.org. Students pay $10 with a valid ID at the door.

An artistic look at traumatic brain injury

NORTHAMPTON — New England Visionary Artists Museum, previously known as Anchor House of Artists, has opened an unusual exhibit this month by an artist who has tried to address the effects of a traumatic brain injury through her work.

Painter Abbie Steiner says she suffered a blow to her head in 2011 that was diagnosed as a “moderate traumatic brain injury.” Her initial headaches and confusion, though, morphed in the following months to visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, and intense fatigue.

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“I experienced an inability to concentrate, focus, listen to voices or music, sleep, carry on a conversation, explain what I needed or was asked, or drive or ride in a car,” Steiner writes in an artist’s statement.

She was unable to paint for two years but then found that painting became part of her slow, uneven path toward healing. The work in her exhibit, produced from 2013 to 2018, offers a chronological account of that effort, she says.

“What made me feel alive again was the ability to draw and paint, however crudely, as this is where I could come home again to myself, even in a sometimes newly unrecognizable form,” she writes.

“A TBI Story: working through a traumatic brain injury” runs through Feb. 28. Steiner will give a talk at the gallery Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. with vision specialist Dr. Naomi Clay about the role of creativity in brain healing; science author Nancy Pick will moderate.

Jazzy anniversary show comes to the Valley

AMHERST — Blue Note Records, the storied jazz label formed in New York City by two German-Jewish émigrés shortly before WWII began, turns 85 this year. Now the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will help the label celebrate.

The Blue Note Quintet, an all-star ensemble led by pianist Gerald Clayton, a six-time Grammy nominee, will play Bowker Auditorium on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. as part of an extensive North American tour — or traveling birthday party, as organizers call it.

Clayton will be joined by four other Blue Note recording artists: vibraphonist Joel Ross, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer. “We don’t have enough time or space to list the artists these guys have performed with,” the FAC says, “because it’s pretty much everyone.”

Blue Note Records, started by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, initially focused on traditional jazz and small swing ensembles before pivoting to more modern jazz in the late 1940s. It eventually became one of the most prolific jazz labels around, playing a key role in developing hard bop, post-bop, and more avant-garde jazz.

Tickets for the Feb. 22 show are available at fac.umass.edu/Online/default.asp.

Environmental writer and activist at UMass

AMHERST — Catherine Coleman Flowers, author of the acclaimed environmental testament “Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret,” will give the keynote address for Black History Month at UMass Amherst.

Flowers’ address, on Feb. 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the university’s Student Union Ballroom, is free and open to the public and will consider climate change and its connection to racial, economic and health inequities.

Flowers, who was awarded a MacArthur “genius grant” in 2020, grew up in a poor region of Alabama where poverty and failing infrastructure has led to raw sewage escaping into people’s yards and public waterways, contaminating drinking water supplies.

Her book, named a Top Ten Science Book of 2020 by Smithsonian magazine, looks at the plight of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and poor rural communities in the U.S. and describes the work of her nonprofit group, Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, to promote equal access to clean water, air, sanitation and soil.

Among a number of leadership positions, Flowers was appointed vice chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Last year she was recognized as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Her UMass presentation will be moderated by Malcolm Sen, an associate professor of English and director of the university’s Environmental Humanities Specialization program.

Punk rock, stand-up comedy, and film

GREENFIELD — The LAVA Center is offering a triple bill of entertainment Feb. 24, beginning at 7:30 p.m., with the screening of a short film, “Stove Bird,” by western Massachusetts filmmakers, followed by “indie comedy hip hop” and punk rock.

“Stove Bird,” written and directed by Ryan Arnold and starring Ezra Clemens Prior and Devan M. Arnold, is a horror-comedy story about a man who seeks escape from the city by moving into a friend’s house in the country — only to be driven nuts by the sounds of birds in the new house.

Ezzy P, of Holyoke/Northampton, then performs what he calls indie comedy hip hop, which has evolved from doing stand-up and rap, an act he began over 10 years ago. He’s released two albums of original music.

The evening closes with a performance by HardCar, a Northampton band that, according to program notes, “plays punk rock from the heart: super catchy fun tunes you can dance to (and you should).”

A suggested donation for the evening is $10.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer