Arts & Culture: Valley Jazz Shares final concert; A.P.E. summer mini-exhibits; Poet wins $50K fellowship; Silverthorne Theater auditions

  • Percussionist Román Díaz and his ensemble play Valley View Farm in Haydenville June 13. Díaz is recognized as a key figure in developing “the sound that has defined rumba since the 1980s in Cuba and all around the world.” Submitted photo

Published: 6/10/2021 4:56:24 PM
Román Díaz Rumba Ensemble performs in Haydenville

HAYDENVILLE — Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares will present its final concert of the 2020-2021 season on Sunday, June 13 when the Román Díaz Rumba Ensemble brings its Afro-Cuban rhythms to Valley View Farm in Haydenville at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the show, at 16 Walpole Road in Haydenville, are $15 and can be purchased at Doors open at 4:30 p.m. There’s limited indoor seating, so consider bringing lawn chairs and blankets. Masks and social distancing will be observed, and no outside food is permitted; a food truck and bar are on site.

Román Díaz, who left Cuba in 1999 to come to New York, is a master percussionist, vocalist, scholar and composer and is regarded as a “living repository” of Afro-Cuban music, according to concert notes. He’s also a key figure in developing “the sound that has defined rumba since the 1980s in Cuba and all around the world.”

Among his accomplishments, Díaz has been featured in two documentaries, has played and recorded with multiple musicians, and has produced a number of albums.

He’ll be joined at the concert by Sandy Perez, percussion and voice; Vanessa Ayaba Irawo, voice and percussion; Rafael Monteagudo, percussion and voice; Onel Mulet, saxophone, flute, percussion and voice; Abraham Rodriguez, voice and percussion; and Clemente Medina, voice.

A.P.E. Gallery opens new summer mini-exhibits

ARC, which stands for “Activate, Research, Create,” is A.P.E.’s program featuring short exhibits in which artists create new work in the Northampton gallery, which remains open during the process for visitors to engage with the artists through various events.

The pandemic forced the program to close last year, but new ARC projects are on tap in 2021. Running currently through June 19 is Jil Crary-Ross’ “Airdrop: Dreamscapes of 21st century Americana,” in which the artist creates a series of narrative portrait paintings that are composed from imagery originally shot or collected on a phone camera.

The program will conclude with a weekend of open hours during which Crary-Ross will use crowd-sourced material, collected from a poll at the exhibit that visitors can complete, to make additional compositions.

A follow-up ARC project from June 20-July 10 is by fabric artist Jo Hesse, who makes felt rugs and wall art using pre-industrial felt-making techniques she learned in Turkey. In “Social Fabric: A Community Rugmaking Project,” Hesse will make a large rug that visitors will be invited to help create. Other rugs made by Hesse will also be exhibited during the project.

Online exhibit by HCC art students

Taber Art Gallery at Holyoke Community College remains shut due to the pandemic, so for the second year in a row, an annual show by HCC art students has been presented online at the Taber’s website,

Painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, computer-generated art and more have been presented by 14 HCC Visual Art faculty members, with up to 12 selections of student work from each of the classes that faculty members taught this year.

“Despite a very challenging year, our amazing students in the HCC Visual Art Department managed to rise above the limitations of online classrooms and create astounding art works,” Amy Johnquest, Taber Gallery’s director, said in statement. “This is evidenced not only by the talent of each student, but also reflects the great instruction and ingenuity they received from their teachers.”

Springfield poet laureate wins $50,000 fellowship

Magdalena Gómez, poet laureate of Springfield, has been awarded $50,000 from the Academy of American Poets, with support from the Mellon Foundation. The award is part of a fellowship program that has awarded $1.1 million to 23 people who serve as poets laureate for states and cities across the country.

A native of New York City, Gomez is the author of the poetry collection “Shameless Woman” and co-editor of the multicultural, intergenerational, and multi-genre anthology “Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions and Catharsis.” She will support youth poets in Springfield via in-person and virtual workshops in partnership with Springfield City Libraries, including through youth poetry readings that will be made available to community access TV stations nationwide

Silverthorne Theater schedules auditions for first show of new season

Silverthorne Theater of Greenfield will hold auditions June 20 and 21 for its first show of 2021-2022, “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” which is set to run Oct. 1-16 in The Perch at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center.

“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” written by Charles Ludlam, is a spoof of Gothic melodramas and vintage horror movies. According to advance notes, it’s a “madcap quick-change marathon in which two actors play all the roles: the lord and lady of the manor, the starchy maid, the groundskeeper-cum-werewolf, plus an ancient mummy and a lingering ghost.” The play will be directed by Chris Rohmann.

Auditions take place June 20 and 21 from 7-9 p.m. at the LAVA Center, 324 Main Street in Greenfield. Appointments are required, as are current headshots and resumes. Auditions are open to all, though some facility with physical comedy and British accents is a must.

To schedule an audition, contact the theater at or call 413-768-7514. More information is available at


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