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Harryman's "Memory Play" to be performed at BIG NIGHT

Poet, playwright, and essayist Carla Harryman, whose work is most often associated with the West Coast wing of the movement that came to be known as "language-centered " writing, returns to Western New York at 8 tonight to read from her work in Just Buffalo's October BIG NIGHT celebration at the Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington St. (near Mohawk St.).

Joining her will be poet-critic Patrick Durgin, a 2004 University at Buffalo Poetics Program Ph.D. who currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and whose recent publications include The Route (Atelos, 2008), a "hybrid genre collaboration" with Jen Hofer, and a series of essays on "post-ableist" poetics in Contemporary Women's Writing.

The evening will also feature the Buffalo Poets Theater, performing Harryman's 1994 text "Memory Play." 

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Live Chat on all things music!

Reimagining 'Cabaret'

For my preview of MusicalFare Theatre's production of "Cabaret," which opens Wednesday, I spoke with the show's director, Randall Kramer, about how he put his own creative stamp on the show. Check out our interview, produced by News videographer Joe Popiolkowski:

Look for a review of "Cabaret" in next Friday's Gusto.

--Colin Dabkowski

The Thursday Theater Roundup

If this week's Thursday Theater Roundup looks remarkably similar to last week's, that's because, aside from the addition of the quasi-theater event "Dralion," it's exactly the same.

Look for our reviews of Road Less Traveled Productions' "Antony and Cleopatra" and Subversive Theatre's "Subversive Twilight Zones" (neither of which, I regret to report, will be gracing this particular space), in tomorrow's Gusto.

Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil performs in HSBC Arena through Sunday. Bill Wippert / The Buffalo News.

"Dralion," through Sunday in HSBC Arena. From the review: "In its profoundly French Canadian weirdness, the show provides a welcome break from what Buffalo has seen recently of the troupe, including two performances of the ADHD-afflicted “Delirium” in 2006 and 2007. (The 2008 production of “Saltimbanco” was well received.) It’s one of the more successful cocktails of the bizarre and the awe-inspiring that Cirque attempts to serve up with each of its daring and inventive productions." --Colin Dabkowski

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Gusto TV: A look at what's happening this weekend

The News’ Liz Kahn, Colin Dabkowski, Mary Kunz Goldman and Jeff Miers preview what is happening in Western New York this weekend.

Thoughts on Clapton?

In tomorrow's Gusto, I offer my take on Eric Clapton's new album, the rather adventurously titled "Clapton." I'm pretty much lovin' it, and offer the video below as Exhibit A in my case. The jury will note that "Travelin' Alone" opens the "Clapton" album. I'm curious, after scanning the virtually split down the middle reaction to the album in the iTunes "comments" area, what any of you might think of the record. Has he still got the goods?

Two views on LeWitt

Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Louis Grachos and Curatorial Assistant Ilana Chlebowski in front of Sol LeWitt's final museum-commissioned wall drawing. Buffalo News / Derek Gee.

A gargantuan scribble drawing designed by the late conceptual artist Sol LeWitt and executed by 16 artists over the course of 54 days is now on view, in all its glory, in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Because of its sheer size, the piece is fascinating to behold when you see it for the first time. After hearing about it for months, and reading about LeWitt's work for some years, I was curious to explore where it fit in the span of LeWitt's career and the story of contemporary art in general. (Look for my article about the piece in Sunday's Spotlight section.)

Some people -- the vast majority of the art world, it would seem -- love LeWitt's work with a fervor that borders on the evangelical. Others see it as dry, emotionless and even somewhat snooze-inducing. Out of the millions of words written about LeWitt and his work over the years, I came across two pieces on a 2000 LeWitt retrospective that seemed to perfectly bracket those opposing views. They each make their points well and are worth a read.

The first is by Robert Hughes, the esteemed former art critic for Time magazine who is famously cool to minimalist and conceptual art. The other, far more fawning, is by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl, whose boundless praise for LeWitt echoes that of the art establishment. They're both fascinating reads and provide a great frame of reference to consider LeWitt's final museum commission.

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She's human!

Berenika People are buzzing about last weekend's Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert, featuring a young pianist from California named Berenika, pictured at left. I had the pleasure of interviewing Berenika last week.

Berenika played the Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2. In the last movement, she had a memory lapse. The music stopped as JoAnn Falletta, the BPO's music director, pointed out something in the score. At least that is what I heard happened. Herman Trotter, The News' critic emeritus, reviewed the concert. I was not there.

Herman's review of Saturday's concert ran on Monday and it reported that at Sunday's concert, Berenika did fine.

I am not focusing on this as any kind of slight to Berenika. She seems to be a very talented pianist. I am making a note of what happened only because I have been thinking how it happens so rarely. You can go to concerts for years and never witness a slip like that. It is kind of a miracle, when you think about it. A pianist playing from memory is like a high-wire artist in that yes, he or she could take a fall.

Playing without music is a bit of showmanship that goes back to Franz Liszt. He had the idea that it would be more impressive if he played from memory. He was right, and soloists have been stuck with that tradition ever since. Oddly enough, in Mozart's time, the situation was the opposite. Mozart, as a piano soloist, was expected to play from music. There was a funny situation where he was playing one of his own concertos, and the copyist had not had time to complete his score. He played from memory -- but he put some blank sheets of paper on the piano to make it look as if he were reading.

Life is sure strange sometimes!

Berenika is still pretty young -- she's 28. The old pros know better how to deal with a memory lapse. They scramble through it somehow and get their bearings after a moment or two. Still, what happened to Berenika can happen to the best of them. It is a challenge you face on the concert stage as opposed to in a recording studio. The legendary Artur Schnabel once had a memory slip. Harold Schonberg, the longtime New York Times critic, wrote about it in one of his books. He wrote that Schnabel "merely grinned, shrugged his shoulders, got up from the piano, and walked over to the podium," where he and the conductor bent over the score together.

They then got back to making music, just as Berenika did the other day.

Accidents happen!

It is just another thing that makes live concerts exciting -- and human.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

The New Release Rack!

Some major releases this week, all of which hit the bins (and the internet) on Tuesday.

 There’s some high-profile pop stuff, a la Taylor Swift, and a few more hipster-friendly, alternative-type releases – the wonderful Andrew Bird’s new album, for instance.

 There’s also a lot happening on the reissues front, the biggest news in that category being the release of the “Apple Records Box”, which features most of the pioneering indie label’s “non-Beatles” catalog in lovingly remastered and expanded form.

New Releases for Tuesday, 10/26:
Devon Allman’s Honeytribe, Space Age Blues (Mascot/Red)
Andrew Bird, Useless Creatures (Fat Possum)
Johnny Clegg, Human (Appleseed)
Elizabeth and the Catapult, The Other Side of Zero (Verve/Forecast)
Bryan Ferry, Olympia (Netwerk/EMI)
Buddy Guy, Living Proof (Silvertone/Sony)
John Hammond, Rough & Tough (Chesky/ADA)
King’s X, Live Love In London (IN2/EMD)
Monster Magnet, Mastermind (Napalm/ADA)
The Orb featuring David Gilmour, Metallic Sphere (Columbia)
Taylor Swift, Speak Now (Big Machine/UMD)
Various artists, Treme: The Soundtrack (Interscope)
John Zorn, What Thou Wilt (Tzadik/eOne)

The Apple Records Box set, (Apple/EMI) which includes these fully remastered editions:
Badfinger, Magic Christian Music
Badfinger, No Dice
Badfinger, Straight Up
Badfinger, Ass
Mary Hopkin, Postcard
Mary Hopkin, Earth Song/Ocean Song
Billy Preston, That’s the Way God Planned It
Billy Preston, Encouraging Words
Doris Troy, Doris Troy
Jackie Lomax, Is This What You Want?
The Modern Jazz Quartet, Under the Jasmine Tree/Space
John Tavener, The Whale/Celtic Requiem
Radha Krishna emple, Rhada Krishna Temple
James Taylor, James Taylor
(All of these releases are available individually as well.)
Bonzo Dog Dooh Dah Band, Songs the Bonzo Dog Band Taught Us (eOne)
Bruford Levin Upper Extremeties, B.L.U.E. (eOne)
John Cale, Live at Rockpalast (eOne)
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Abbatoir Blues & Lyre of Orpheus (Anti-/Epitaph)
Crowded House, the Very Best of Crowded House (EMI)
The Fall, The Unuttterble Plus (eOne)
Jethro Tull, Stand Up: Collector’s Edition (EMI)
Michael Schenker Group. Live at Rockpalast (eOne)
Motorhead, BBC Live In Session vol. 1 & 2 (EMD)
R.E.M., Live from Austin Texas (New West)
Strawbs, Strawbs 40th Anniversary Vol. 1 (eOne)
UFO, Rockpalast: Hardrock Legends Vol. 1 (eOne)

- Jeff Miers
News Pop Music Critic



A modern look at 'Antony and Cleopatra'

Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra," a tragedy of epic proportions that can be prohibitive to small theater companies, hasn't been performed by a Buffalo company in decades. Tonight, Road Less Traveled Productions opens its own scaled-down and concentrated version of the classic tale, adapted from Shakespeare's original by the company's resident playwright Jon Elston. Earlier this week, Buffalo News video journalist Joe Popiolkowski and I sat down with the company's artistic director Scott Behrend about the company's approach to the unwieldy classic. Here's what he had to say:

--Colin Dabkowski

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