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Kleinhans is a cabaret tonight

Tonight's the night when the Community Music School is toasting Andy Anselmo, vocal coach to the stars, with "88 Keys," a cabaret celebration at Kleinhans Music Hall.

Andy Anselmo, 88, founded the Singers Forum in Manhattan and is revered in the music world. Several of Andy's students are performing tonight. We thought we'd take a peek at them beforehand.

Above is Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano. They are a husband-and-wife team who perform together frequently in New York and around the world.

Oh, look! They were just reviewed in the New York Times. Writer Stephen Holden found some things to like about their show in the Metropolitan Room. I love his term "wrist-slashers." I know just the kind of song he means.

Another number.

We'll also hear tonight from Caroline Jones, Andy Anselmo's young protegee in New York. She is a singer of a different stripe. She tends toward the country although, impressively, she has also performed at Feinstein's at Loews Regency.

She takes off her shoes on stage! Ha, ha! I love her little speech about that.

This is a bittersweet little song from a performance she gave at the Metropolitan Room.

Anyway, lots of fun tonight at Kleinhans. The show is at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $40 and I hear there are still some left. Proceeds benefit the Community Music School, which taught Andy Anselmo when he was a boy.

More info on the event here. Or call 884-4887.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Yet another new piece by Beethoven

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Hot on the heels of the "new" Beethoven sonata, we have another Beethoven premiere.

It is almost as if he is back among us!

The latest Beethoven piece is a setting of the Gregorian chant "Pange Lingua." This is an ancient prayer that goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas.

The arrangement, which he reportedly made in 1820, was just premiered by a chorus in Manchester, England. Negotiations are under way between the Gusto blog and the folks in Manchester in hopes that we can get some audio to Beethoven fans here in Buffalo.

I for one would love to hear this chant. I have gotten to know it only recently through singing sometimes in the choir at St. Anthony of Padua Church where they have a traditional Latin Mass.

In the BBC's account of this discovery, a professor makes a point that has occurred to me too: that most of the people who research Beethoven do not know much about Gregorian chant. This is a loss when it comes to researching not only Beethoven but other great Catholic composers. Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn and so many more lived in an age of faith that we can hardly conceive of now. They had Catholicism in their bones and it seems to me it is hard to overestimate how much it influenced them. 

We live in a different age now and as the BBC said, most scholars are underinformed about Catholic faith and music that did so much to shape these composers. Even Catholics are pretty ignorant about it, because the liturgical and musical changes that took place after Vatican II effectively cut us off from the past. 

There is also a growing antipathy toward religion in general and a tendency to downplay the artistic influence of faith. Look how much is written about Masonic influences in Mozart's music, as opposed to religious influences. 

Anyway, cheers to Beethoven and his "Pange Lingua." Scholars are saying, however grudgingly, that Beethoven's arrangement of the chant could say something about the depth of his faith. With luck we will be able to hear and judge for ourselves.

Meanwhile here is the chant itself. It is kind of a modern rendition but the video shows the Latin words. Plus I think Beethoven would have liked the birdsong!

 -- Mary Kunz Goldman

Thursday Theater Roundup

"Tru," through Oct. 27 in the Buffalo United Artists Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "[Christopher] Standart has approached the role with a clear grasp of Capote’s mannerisms and affectations, those extremely stylized movements and utterances that made him an instant curiosity wherever he went. But he doesn’t go down the road of caricature, revealing from the start the roiling emotional undercurrent that seemed to underpin everything Capote wrote and thought at this particular point of his life." --Colin Dabkowski

Stan Klimecko, Dee LaMonte Perry and Gregory Howze in Jewish Repertory Theatre's "The Whipping Man."

"The Whipping Man," through Nov. 11 in the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York's Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre. ★★★

From the review: "The unexpected subject matter alone makes Lopez’s play a worthy addition to the literature of Jewish and African-American relations. It helps that Lopez gives audiences plenty of deft writing and makes a series of historical connections that, while perhaps obvious to some, have long been hidden in plain sight for many Americans." --Colin Dabkowski

Hedvig

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a remount of last year's hit production at the ALT Theatre at the Warehouse in the New Phoenix Theatre through Nov. 3.

From the review of the original production: "She nailed it." --Colin Dabkowski

New Beethoven sonata, check it out

Beethoven

A "new" Beethoven piano sonata, reconstructed from fragments, was premiered last weekend in Amsterdam. There is all kinds of discussion as to its worth. I have not had time to review it all in depth but I get the idea that people are arguing whether he intended the music as a solo piano sonata or as something else, say a string quartet.

British author and musicologist Norman Lebrecht, friend to the Gusto Blog, discussed the piece briefly.

The score is available here to interested pianists.

I know I am one!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Video: Loraine O'Donnell returns as 'Hedwig'


WALLINE_PIC_OF_LORAINE_ON_BENCH_8654000Last year, Loraine O’Donnell wowed crowds with her visceral and moving performance in the title role of John Cameron Mitchell’s bizarre but inspired musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” in the Alt Theatre at the Warehouse. Her physical and emotional transformation for the role, which came at a time of change and turmoil in O’Donnell’s own life, was the standout story of the 2011-12 theater season.

Anyone who missed O’Donnell during the show’s original run can stop kicking themselves, because she’s bringing “Hedwig” back for a six-day revival in the New Phoenix Theatre (95 Johnson Park). The remount, which opens Thursday and runs through Nov. 3, will also feature Kerrykate Abel reprising her acclaimed performance as Yitzak and the band Billy Draws 2 laying down Stephen Trask’s infectious music. Tickets are $25. Call 853-1334 or visit www.newphoenixtheatre.org.

Here is New Phoenix Artistic Director Richard Lambert on the production:

— Colin Dabkowski

Replay Critics' Corner video chat with Simon, Miers

News critics Jeff Simon and Jeff Miers take reader questions on music, movies, TV, books and more.

Video: 'A Couple of Blaguards' opening at Irish Classical

For many, the name Frank McCourt instantly evokes scenes of abject poverty in Limerick, Ireland, and of a family struggling to hold itself together under remarkably dire circumstances – inspired by McCourt’s memoir “Angela’s Ashes.” Though darkly funny in parts, it is one of the sadder pieces of popular literature in recent memory.

Three years after his death, it is worth noting McCourt was equally adept at rousing humor. Case in point: “A Couple of Blaguards,” a two-man play he co-wrote and performed with his brother Malachy McCourt in New York in the mid-’80s and after. The show, revived in recent years at regional theaters across the country, features alternately humorous and doleful tales from the brothers’ fascinating lives in Ireland and as young men trying to make their way in the United States. A local production starring Christian Brandjes and Chris Kelly as the brothers McCourt opens Thursday in the Irish Classical Theatre Company’s Andrews Theatre (625 Main St.), where it will run through Nov. 18.

“It’s set in a pub, and the audience is basically invited to join them in the pub and have an evening of song and dance and music,” said Irish Classical director Vincent O’Neill. “Chris Brandjes promises to bring his guitar and his mandolin. So it’ll be a hooley. It’ll be an Irish party.”

Tickets are $34 to $42; call 853-4282 or go to www.irishclassicaltheatre.com.

Here is ICTC artistic director Vincent O'Neill speaking about the production:

— Colin Dabkowski

Video: Dracula rocks out in 'Dead English'

Musical “The Dead English" runs through Nov. 10 at American Repertory Theater of WNY. Read Ben Siegel's preview of the production. Here, A.R.T. director Matthew LaChiusa describes the show's source material – Bram Stoker’s “Dracula."

A program with pluck

Jason Vieaux, the great guitarist who grew up in the Buffalo area, is teaming up with Grammy-nominated harp virtuoso Yolanda Kondonassis for a intriguing program Friday night at Slee Hall.

One piece on the program I like is Alan Hovhaness' "Spirit of the Trees." Kondonassis has recorded it and you can hear it up above. I like the exotic, Eastern-sounding melodies. They sound Greek, like Greek dances. Other parts of the piece make me think of early music, of carols.

This piece should sound beautiful in the pristine acoustics of Lippes Hall in Slee Hall. General admission is $12 in advance; $20 on Friday.

For info on Slee Hall events, call 645-2921.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Miers on Music live chat at 12 p.m.

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