Arts Beat: Kat Wright brings her Motown soul to Town Hall Theater

Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band, who wowed Middlebury audiences at last year’s Foodaroo, return to Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater for a big concert/dance on Friday at 8 p.m.
The name of the group tells the story. Wright herself, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, gritty and full of emotion, has been described as a cross between a young Bonnie Raitt and Amy Winehouse. A rock-solid rhythm section, a powerful three-piece horn section and a brilliant electric guitarist rip through the Motown and Soul songbook with explosive power. The group is confident, cool, fun to watch, and, well … indomitable.
Boston Public Radio calls the group “frighteningly good.”
Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, 382-9222, at the THT box office (noon to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday) and at the door, if available.
The Ripton Community Coffee House, a nonprofit community concert series, welcomes Connor Garvey and Sorcha Cribben-Merrill at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Ripton Community House in Ripton.
Independent touring artists in their own right, when Garvey and Cribben-Merrill team up as a duo, their harmonies alone can carry the show. Add rich blues-funk grooves, contemplative imagery and nods to various traditions, and you’ll find this collaboration has staying power.
Garvey is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Portland, Maine, with the amiable presence of an entertainer, the lyrical depth of a poet, and the enchantment of a storyteller. His unique sandy tenor and masterful blend of rhythm and melody draw comparison to Paul Simon.
Cribben-Merrill composes stirring folk-blues-soul music that she sings in a sultry, jazzy voice of unexpected power. She tours nationally solo and as a duo, and regionally with her band Sorcha & the Clearing.
As always, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with an open-mike set, followed by the featured performers. Open-mike performers are encouraged to call in advance and reserve one of the four open-mike slots.
Admission to the coffeehouse is $3 kids (12 and under), $10 general admission and $15 generous admission. The economically challenged may pay what they can afford. Refreshments will benefit Otter Creek Child Center. The coffeehouse is held on the first Saturday of each month, except August. For more information, contact Richard Ruane or Andrea Chesman at 388-9782.
Town Hall Theater announces the broadcast of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” live from the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Few operas have surpassed “Manon Lescaut” in the depiction of the urgency of young love. The French tale of a beautiful young woman destroyed by her conflicting needs for love and luxury had already inspired Massenet’s “Manon” (1884), a relatively new and immensely popular work at the time of the “Manon Lescaut” premiere. Puccini made the story his own and infused it with a new level of frank emotion and a flood of melody.
Soprano Kristine Opolais and tenor Roberto Alagna join forces in Puccini’s obsessive love story. Opolais sings the title role of the country girl who transforms herself into a Parisian temptress, while Alagna is the dashing student who desperately woos her. Director Richard Eyre places the action in 1940s occupied France in a film noir setting. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads the stirring score.
There is a free pre-show talk in the Byers Studio at 12:15 p.m. sponsored by the Opera Company of Middlebury.
Tickets are $24/$10 students and may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, 382-9222, at the THT box office, or at the door. Run time is about 3-1/2 hours with two intermissions.
Carnevale Vergennes, an unusual evening of entertainment, costumes, flourish and flair, has become the favorite late-winter fundraiser for Vergennes area residents since its inception. This year’s Carnevale Vergennes, which begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Vergennes Opera House, will benefit three Vergennes area nonprofit organizations: the Vergennes Opera House, the Vergennes Partnership and, new this year, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes.
The theme of this year’s Carnevale Vergennes is “Marco Polo Returns” celebrating the achievements of the world traveler who forever connected the Italian and Asian cultures in magnificent and delicious ways. As such, guests will enjoy Asian-style-fare with Italian-style dessert. Guests will also be treated to acrobatics, magic, music and, new this year, dancing, with the popular Hokum Brothers. There will also be a cash bar provided by Bar Antidote with a portion of the proceeds going toward the beneficiary nonprofits.
There is a limit of 200 attendees for this year’s Carnevale Vergennes, and guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets early.
Tickets are $50 each and are available online at vergennesoperahouse.org or in advance at Classic Stitching, Everywear for Everybody, and Malabar. For more information visit vergennesoperahouse.org or call 877-6737.
A major new film offering a fresh perspective on the Impressionists through the life and work of the man who introduced them to the world — Paul Durand-Ruel — will play at Town Hall Theater on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Based on the Inventing Impressionism exhibition, which recently opened at the National Gallery London, “The Impressionists and the Man who Made Them” focuses on 19th-century Parisian art collector Paul Durand-Ruel. It was his continual support, championing, financial backing and refusal to give up that established one of the most loved and recognizable movements in Western art — Impressionism.
The film charts Durand-Ruel’s relationship with artists including Manet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir and Pissarro, and his determination to support them in the unforgiving environment of 19th-century Paris, through the Franco-Prussian war, alongside dealing with the blows of his own personal life — losing his wife and caring for their five children.
Tickets are $10/$5 students and may be purchased at www.townhalltheater.org, 802-382-9222, at the THT box office, or at the door Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. or one hour before show time.
Pianist Diana Fanning will celebrate 40 years of teaching piano at Middlebury College with a solo recital in Robison Hall of the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Sunday at 4 p.m. The program will include works by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Janá?ek. The concert will also feature Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, one of the great masterpieces of the Romantic era.
Fanning has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and in England, France, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, the Czech Republic, Holland and Germany. She has performed on numerous occasions as a concerto soloist with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Vermont Public Television featured her in a program of works by Scarlatti, Ravel, and Chopin. Radio audiences hear her frequently over Vermont Public Radio, and she has performed live on “Morning Pro Musica” (WGBH-FM) Boston and on WNYC, New York City. She is an Affiliate Artist of the Middlebury College Department of Music.
Admission is free and the public is cordially invited.
The exciting 2015-2016 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday at Middlebury College with the 2014 French film, “Girlhood,” directed by Céline Sciamma.
Fed up with her abusive family situation, lack of school prospects, and the “boys’ law” in the neighborhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of free-spirited girls. She changes her name and her style, drops out of school, and starts stealing to be accepted into the gang.
“A mesmerizing exercise in the enlightenment that can happen when a filmmaker shifts the male cinematic gaze ever so slightly,” says Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post.
The film, in French with English subtitles, will be shown at 3 and again at 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium on College Street (Route 125). It’s free. Some of the films in this series may be inappropriate for children.
As part of the Associated Chamber Music Players World-wide Play-In event, the Middlebury Community Music Center will host a chamber music play-in from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
A play-in is an event where musicians meet, often for the first time, and “read” chamber music for pure pleasure. Play-ins are not performances, they are just musicians playing music with each other. The ACMP Worldwide Play-In Weekend is an annual celebration of the joy of chamber music. This grassroots event unites people of all ages and abilities by their common love of chamber music.
Musicians of all ages and abilities are welcome. The MCMC is located at 6 Main St. in Middlebury. For more information, call 989-7538.
Addison County’s Va-et-Vient returns to perform at Lincoln Peak Vineyard at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Musiciennes Carol Reed (vocals, guitar, mandolin) and Suzanne Germain (vocals, percussion, flute) are now joined by multi-instrumentalist Lausanne Allen, presenting traditional Francophone music. Reed, a French teacher at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School in Shelburne; Germain, a Franco-American who grew up in South Burlington; and fiddler extraordinaire Allen will serve up an eclectic mix of touching love songs and kickin’ Québecois and Cajun tunes. Audience participation is encouraged. Venez chanter avec nous!
Admission is free. More information is at lincolnpeakvineyard.com.
There will be one live musical performance this week at Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury. Join Two Brothers at 9 p.m. on Friday for a performance by Hamjob. A trio of extremely talented musicians from the greater Rutland area, Hamjob combines different musical blends and backgrounds to create a profoundly unique mashup of funky, bluesy, fuzzy and progressive tones. There is a $3 cover. For additional information, call 388-0002.

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