Arts & Leisure

Arts Beat: Broadway composer to share insights with theater lovers

ADAM GUETTEL, THE grandson of Richard Rodgers and a talented composer in his own right, is Broadway royalty. He is in Middlebury this month to work with Doug Anderson to stage Guettel’s musical “The Light In the Piazza,” featuring college actors and singers. Guettel will give a public talk this Thursday, Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall Theater.

When “The Light In the Piazza” opened on Broadway in 2005, critics knew they were seeing something rare. The New York Times wrote that Adam Guettel had created “the most intensely romantic score of any musical since “West Side Story.” It won the Tony Award for Best Score, won a Best Actress Tony for Victoria Clark, and made a star out of fresh young talent named Kelli O’Hara.
“After I saw it at Lincoln Center, I immediately went back to see it a second time,” says Town Hall Theater Artistic Director Douglas Anderson. “That had never happened to me before. I was completely swept away by it.” Anderson is directing the show as the 15th Winter Term Musical, the annual collaboration of Town Hall Theater and the Middlebury College Department of Music that opens next week, on Friday, Jan. 24.
After corresponding with Guettel, Anderson was floored when the composer said he not only wanted to see the show but would come to rehearsals and work with the student performers.
As part of his brief residency, Guettel has agreed to give a public talk, “A Conversation with Adam Guettel,” which will take place this Thursday, Jan. 16, at 4:30 p.m. at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. Anyone with a Middlebury College ID will get in free. Tickets are $10 for the general public. Anderson will host.
“We’ll talk about this wondrous musical, of course,” says Anderson, “but we’ll also talk about his musical family and what it was like to grow up with grandfather Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.”
For tickets to both “A Conversation with Adam Guettel” and “The Light in the Piazza,” go to, call 802-382-9222 or visit the THT box office (Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.).

The dynamic and charismatic Heath Quartet concludes its second weeklong residency of the season at Middlebury College with a concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, in the Mahaney Arts Center’s Robison Hall featuring Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, op. 18; Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, op. 127; and the third Razumovsky Quartet No. 9 in C Major, op. 59. A cash bar and light refreshments will be available before this concert and during intermission.
In May 2013, the Heath Quartet — including violinists Oliver Heath and Sara Wolstenholme, violist Gary Pomeroy, and cellist Christopher Murray — became the first ensemble in 15 years to win the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artists Award. In 2016 their recording of Sir Michael Tippett’s string quartets received widespread acclaim and won the Gramophone Chamber Disk of the Year. And just this past year, the Heath was included as one of the Top 10 String Quartets in a Gramophone list of “some of the greatest recordings available.”
Gramophone writes: “Last year I heard The Heath Quartet play … and was struck not only by their obvious mastery … but also by the exuberant sense of fantasy — indeed, joy — that they brought to the music.”
Reserved seating tickets are $22 for the general public; $16 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, and emeriti; $10 for youth; and $6 for Middlebury College students, and are on sale at 802-443-6433, or The Mahaney Center is located on the campus of Middlebury College, at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30/South Main Street. Free parking is available curbside on Route 30 or in the Center for the Arts parking lot.

Richard Ruane and Beth Duquette will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, at Brandon Music.
Ruane and Duquette are an Addison County-based acoustic duo performing original music with a clear traditional-roots influence that is steeped in tradition, but of its own time. They are known for their strong, imaginative vocals and harmonies, often compared to classic sibling harmony duos. Some of their original songs harken back to traditional ballads and jazz tunes from the ’30s, but also remain firmly planted in life’s current challenges and joy.
Ruane sings and provides instrumental backing on guitar, tenor guitar, mandolin and ukulele, while Duquette contributes lead and harmony vocals. Ruane and Duquette perform with a comfortable ease and audience rapport that comes from many years of collaboration and love of creating music together. They will be joined by special guest Mitch Barron on bass.
Their songwriting has won awards from the Songwriter’s Association of Washington’s Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and the SolarFest Songwriting Showcase and they have been finalists at Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition in Kerrville, Texas, the Great Waters Music Festival Songwriter Contest and the Plowshares Coffeehouse Singer-Songwriter Competition.
Concert tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is available for $25. Reservations are required for dinner and recommended for the show. Venue is BYOB. Call 802-247-4295 or e-mail [email protected] for reservations or for more information. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road in Brandon.

The WalkOver concert room is thrilled and delighted to launch its 2020 Cabin Fever Series, on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., with three extraordinary classical musicians, Cynthia Huard on piano, Katie Oprea on oboe and Betsy LeBlanc on clarinet, (the Heliand Consort), who will be joined by two thespians, Jim Stapleton and Diana Bigelow. These artists will be presenting a unique evening of music and literature.
In a program appropriately titled “Kindred Spirits: The Letters and Music of Brahms and the Schumanns,” the fascinating, intriguing and complex story of the friendship and love triangle among three towering 19th-century composers, performance artists, and literary personalities — Robert Schumann, Clara Wieck-Schumann and Johannes Brahms — will be explored through relevant and compelling chamber music selections, as well as readings from their collective letters to each other.
The depth and intimacy of the connection among these three great musical minds of the Romantic Era and the influence they exercised on each other yielded a profound and enduring gift of beauty. This promises to be an evening that reveals the excellence of the human spirit.
To better support the musicians, and after 15 years of unchanged ticket prices, the WalkOver venue is suggesting $20 in advance and $25 the day of for the 2020 series. If these prices are difficult for any individual, the former prices of $15 in advance and $20 for the day of will be honored. The WalkOver concert room is located at 15 Main St in Bristol. Reservations may be made at 802-453-3188 ext. 2 or at [email protected].

The 2019-2020 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday, Jan. 18, at Middlebury College with the 2019 German film, System Crasher, directed by Nora Fingscheidt.
She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher.” And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mom! But Bianca is scared of her own daughter.
Mrs. Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired?
While being acutely authentic, first-time director Nora Fingscheidt transcends a psychological study and crafts vibrant, visceral and emotional cinema, which evokes unforgettable performances.
Berlin International Film Festival Winner: Silver Bear, Germany’s Official Selection for the 92nd Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
The film, in German 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 2020 Music Series at Otter Creek Brewing, independent artist Alison “AliT” Turner will be performing at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, in OCB’s pub space.
AliT, is a singer-songwriter (guitar/voice) based in Vermont. This talented songstress records and performs a heartfelt and unique style of alternative/indie pop. Having started writing songs at the age of seven, and picking up the guitar when she was 11, Turner has developed into an introspective songwriter and performer. Vermont’s Seven Days named AliT a finalist for Best Vocalist and Best Pop Artist in 2018 and again in 2019. Her songs have been featured on Vermont’s Independent Radio Station “The Point” as well as other local stations.
Otter Creek Pub Space is located at 793 Exchange St in Middlebury. For more information, call 802-388-0727.

Middlebury-based English bluesman Tom Caswell will be hosting a Blues Jam in Bristol at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Hatch 31 located at 31 Main St.
The jam will feature both local and statewide blues musicians and is open to anyone wanting to hear great music. This is a monthly event on the third Wednesday of the month. If you are a musician or singer planning to take part in the jam, there will be a sign-up sheet located near the stage.
Although the music begins at 8 p.m., an earlier arrival is advised. Admission to the jam is free.
The afternoon of traditional music, dance, and flavors of Brittany, the “Celtic” region of northwestern France, will begin at 4 p.m. at the Grand Salon at Le Château building on the Middlebury campus. It’s free.
More information is online at or 802-443-3168.

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