A Great Start
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Maestro Kevin Rhodes, offers a season full of classical sounds. The Orchestra’s 70th season begins this week, when Swiss pianist and UMass faculty member Gilles Vonsattel (pictured) plays Ravel’s Concerto in G. Also on the bill is Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4—the very piece Rhodes conducted for the audition for his current position.
At the end of October, the SSO season hits another high note when the group, directed by Michael Shapiro, offers a live orchestral soundtrack to that stalwart of the Halloween film canon, 1931’s Frankenstein. In November, the music of Mozart is on tap.
Opening night: Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m. Springfield Symphony Hall, 34 Court St., Springfield, (413) 733-2291, springfieldsymphony.org.
A Northampton Roasting
If you’ve ever read the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” you may not have the sense that Jonathan Edwards, who offered that fiery oration in Northampton, was a particularly jovial fellow. Valley author Susan Stinson (pictured), who’s also writer-in-residence at Northampton’s Forbes Library (a stone’s throw from the Edwards Church), has taken on that stolid personality in her new novel, Spider in a Tree. In it, Edwards’ voice is not the only one: one of his slaves speaks, as do family members. This Valley tale writ large is yet more Valley-centric—Easthampton-based Small Beer Press is the publisher.
This week, Stinson offers a particularly Octobery event in the wake of her book launch—a walking tour of Northampton’s Bridge Street Cemetery. She reads in the area later this fall as well.
Cemetery tour: Oct. 5, Bridge Street Cemetery, Bridge Street (Route 9), Northampton, tickets at Broadside Books, Main Street, Northampton, (413) 586-4235, www.broadsidebooks.com.
Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m. Stockbridge Library, 46 Main St., Stockbridge.
Nov. 13, Amherst Books, 8 Main St., Amherst, (413) 256-1547, amherstbooks.com.
Fathers and Sons
New WORLD Theater, the late lamented multicultural program of the UMass Fine Arts Center, was a birthing place for new work at the leading edge of cross-disciplinary performance. Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s “choreopoem” Word Becomes Flesh was partly developed there, and now it’s back in an expanded ensemble version. Structured as a series of letters from a young father to his unborn son, the piece integrates hip-hop theater and contemporary dance in an exploration and deconstruction of race, gender and black male identity. It’s co-written and performed by a group of emerging poet-performers in a blend of movement, spoken word, music and visual art. A week-long pre-performance residency includes a public forum at Amherst College on Oct. 7.
Oct. 10, 7:30 pm, Bowker Auditorium, UMass, Amherst, (413) 545-2511 or fac.umass.edu/online.
From the Mouth of Maher
Habitual political irritant Bill Maher comes to Springfield to offer his irreverent brand of comedy, delivered stand-up style. The host of Real Time with Bill Maher, and, before that, Politically Incorrect, has a long history of touching off conflagrations with his statements on everything from 9/11 to mental disabilities. Expect acerbic, unvarnished views on religion and politics, Maher’s most frequent targets.
Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Springfield Symphony Hall, One Columbus Center, Springfield, (413) 788-7033.
Earle and Dukes
You might know Steve Earle from his plainspoken anti-government musical tirades in the post-9/11 era (“F the CC,” for instance), or for his role on The Wire. His uncompromising, decidedly Southern firebrand style fills the Calvin this Halloween. The renowned songwriter brings his band The Dukes to town with him in support of last spring’s release of The Low Highway. That album has been hailed as a high point to date in Earle’s storied career, which includes screen credits and book credits (a novel called I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive and forthcoming memoir and novel).
Oct. 31, 8 p.m., $28.50-38.50, The Calvin Theatre, 19 King St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com.
And Now for Something Completely Different
A play within a play within a play: a classic English country house thriller that turns out to be something quite different, and then turns out to be something else altogether. That’s Accomplice, Rupert Holmes’ triple-helix spoof of theatrical genres and theater itself. This is Shakespeare & Company’s fall-season specialty—playful send-ups of whodunits and creepies. Described by one critic as “part murder mystery, part sex farce,” it follows up on Holmes’ adaptation of Dickens’ unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood which incorporates audience participation. In this case, the audience itself becomes the title character.
Weekends through Nov. 10, Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. (413) 637-3353, shakespeare.org.
The Many Sounds of Kyoto
Straight from the primal swamp of ’70s punk, Japanese band Ultra Bide invades Flywheel this fall. The band does not, however, play standard-issue power-chord punk. Ultra Bide offers a conglomeration of wobbly, weird and endlessly surprising varieties of sound. It’s by turns hilarious, grating, annoying, and brilliant. Throw in occasional vocals that demonstrate an interestingly incomplete grasp of English, and you get a trans-Pacific sound like little else.
Oct. 11, Flywheel, 43 Main St., Easthampton, (413) 527-9800.