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Arts Beat for Jan. 11: U.K.-based Heath Quartet to offer two free concerts in Middlebury

The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series engages the acclaimed Heath Quartet as its first-ever Quartet in Residence to kick off 2016. The U.K.-based ensemble will spend all of Middlebury’s Winter Term on campus, performing in two free concerts, the first on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. and the second next week on Thursday, Jan. 21. A third, ticketed concert will take place on Thursday, Feb. 4. All three of the concerts will take place in Robison Hall (concert hall) in the Mahaney Center for the Arts, at 7:30 p.m.
The Heath Quartet’s 2015-2016 season focuses heavily on the string quartets of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Their first two concerts at Middlebury will feature the complete Bartók cycle, performing quartets 1, 3 and 5 on Thursday, and quartets 2, 4 and 6 a week later on Jan. 21.
Their residency will also include many other activities such as coaching music students, visits with local elementary schools, pop-up concerts, and more.
The dynamic and charismatic Heath Quartet — comprising violinists Oliver Heath and Cerys Jones, violist Gary Pomeroy and cellist Christopher Murray — was formed in 2002 at the U.K.’s Royal Northern College of Music. The quartet has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting British chamber ensembles today. Among their many honors are a Borletti-Buitoni Special Ensemble Scholarship and the 2012 Ensemble Prize at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In May 2013 they became the first ensemble in 15 years to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists Award.
The Jan. 14 and 21 concerts are being offered free of charge, thanks to generous support from the Sunderman Family Concert Endowment Fund.
For more information call 443-6433 or go to middlebury.edu/arts.    
THE MCLANES IN BRANDON
Dutch pianist Annemieke McLane and accordionist Jeremiah McLane, a Vermont-based couple, perform their own arrangements of existing folk-inspired classical music, at Brandon Music on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The McLanes have managed to bring out multiple layers of voicing, coloring, timing and emotion, creating a sound that is simultaneously classical, improvisational, exuberant, introspective and passionate. Their repertoire includes works by Astor Piazzolla, Edvard Grieg, Francis Poulenc, Anton Dvorak and Alan Hovhaness, as well as their own compositions.
Originally from the Netherlands, Annemieke won the National Young Music Talent Award (Netherlands) for piano-accompaniment, praised for her touch and coloring. She has performed in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In 2004, she made her way to Vermont, and is now pianist for the Handel Society of Dartmouth College.
Jeremiah is a composer, accordionist, pianist and teacher with a diverse musical background including blues, jazz, Celtic, Québécois, French and other roots-influenced music. In the early 1990s he formed the Clayfoot Strutters and Nightingale, two bands that have helped shape the sound of traditional New England roots music. He currently tours with Chicago-based Allos Musica and Vermont-based Wheezer and Squeezer.
Tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is also available for $20. Reservations are recommended for the show and required for dinner. Venue is BYOB. Call 247-4295 or e-mail info@brandon-music.net for reservations or for more information.
COMPASS CENTER ART SHOW
The conflicting emotions of how people feel about the winter season was the spark for the juried exhibit, “Winter as Prism or Prison,” at the Compass Music and Arts Center that opens on Friday.
Here in New England, winter can be a long, cold endeavor that some find to be a magical time full of fun and striking ever-changing light, while others hunker down and pass the months indoors, waiting for the first signs of spring. Compass asked artists to present their take on the notion of winter as a beautiful prism of light or a prison one can’t wait to escape.
Exhibiting artists include Denise Bach, Dan Gilman, Jeanne Lamoureux-Wood, Tom Merwin, Norma Montaigne, Marise Morse, Catherine M. Palmer, Ayanna Proctor and Lowell Snowdon Klock.
The exhibit runs through March 26, with an opening reception to be held this Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.
For more information, call 247-4295.
LIVE OPERA BROADCAST
A new production of Bizet’s “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” (“The Pearl Fishers”), a rarity by the composer of “Carmen” that has not been seen at the Met in nearly a century, will be broadcast live in HD at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater on Saturday at 1 p.m. There will be a free pre-show talk in the Byers Studio at 12:15 p.m., courtesy of the Opera Company of Middlebury.
The New York Times hails the new Met production as “the sleeper hit of the Metropolitan Opera season … a dream cast … Sensitive and insightful production … Theatrical magic … Diana Damrau brings brilliant coloratura agility, radiant sound and charisma galore to the role of Leila. Mariusz Kwiecien is an ideal Zurga … Matthew Polenzani sang his haunting aria of remembrance with wonderful lyrical tenderness. If only (Bizet) could have seen this production.”
Tickets are $24 adults, $10 students and can be purchased online at townhalltheater.org, by phone at 382-9222, or in person Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., or an hour before show time at the THT box office.
INTERNATIONAL FILM SERIES
The exciting 2015-2016 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday at Middlebury College with the 2015 Chilean film, “The Club,” directed by Pablo Larraín.
Four priests live together in a secluded house in a small, seaside town. Each of them has been sent to this place to purge the sins from the past, living according to a strict regime under the watchful eye of a female caretaker. The fragile stability of their routine is soon disrupted by the arrival of a fifth man, a newly disgraced companion, who brings with him the secrets they thought deeply buried. “A bold, blunt, yet clinically intelligent film … it’s all at once a gripping thriller, an incendiary social critique and a mordant moral fable,” according to Jessica Kiang, The Playlist.
The film, in Spanish with English subtitles, will be shown at 3 and again at 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium on College Street. It’s free. Some of the films in this series may be inappropriate for children.
TWO BROTHERS TAVERN
There will be two live performances this week at Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury. Join Two Brothers every Wednesday at 9 p.m. for The Open Mic, an evening of music, comedy, or anything else, alternately hosted by Mark Sikora and Kai Stanley. Come cheer on your friends or let loose on the stage. It’s free to enter and there is no cover charge.
Then, on Saturday, the tavern presents Sammich, at 9 p.m. Sammich is a five-piece funk/jam outfit bringing you all the chunky grooves your heart didn’t even know it desired. The band features Burlington-based musicians Sam Luke on lead vocals and guitar, Dylan (Mich) Berno on lead guitar, Joshua Glass on keys and vocals, Brian Harris on bass and Dalton Muzzy on drums. There is a $3 cover charge. For more information, call Two Brothers at 388-0002.
STUDENT EXHIBIT
An exhibit of student architectural design, “Houses for a Wall,” opens on Tuesday in Middlebury College’s Johnson Memorial Building. This exhibition from Jim Butler’s fall class Sculptural Architecture includes intricate houses made from balsa, hardwoods, foam-core and fused glass. Each is built to fit an actual site on campus by combining practical approaches of architectural thinking with flights of imagination. The sculptures are accompanied by artful color photographs that show them installed on campus. The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 21, is free.
JACKSON GALLERY
A new exhibit, “The Return of Spring,” opens on Friday at the Jackson Gallery at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. “The Return of Spring” features the work of Middlebury artist Yinglei Zhang, her mentor Mr. Li Xubai from Chin (currently Canada), and her teacher Mr. Guo Yiyu of Hong Kong. Both Li and Guo have work collected by private owners and museums around the world.

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