Here are some recent local music releases guaranteed to entice and intrigue:
Like a hot toddy on a cold winter’s night, which this week is full of, “Once” warms you up and leaves you feeling happy. The tour of the hit Broadway show is at the Durham Performing Arts Center through Sunday. Opening night Tuesday was a blustery one outside, but inside the show started before curtain time – in fact, there was no curtain – by opening up the on-stage bar to a few lucky patrons.
Whether America can be described as a melting pot or a salad bowl, the fact remains there are many subcultures just below the surface of our national identity. The standard version is the United States was founded by white, middle-class Christian men who had wives and children, and while that was the textbook picture of our citizenry in 1775, there were large pockets of Americans, like women and blacks, who had no public face.
Stephen Cowles, one of the organizers of the 2014 Durham Mardi Gras Parade, described last year’s event as a mini music festival – both at the indoor venues and on Rigsbee Avenue, where musicians played. This year, Cowles said organizers would like to “foment” that kind of vibe by closing off the street at Rigsbee after the parade, and adding a venue.
Stuart Ward took a risk when he turned down the understudy role in the hit Broadway musical “Once” when it was being performed in London. But he had another job, playing guitar with Sir Cliff Richard at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and didn’t want to be an understudy. Ward wanted the lead. “Once” has received eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It is based on the Irish film.
When violinist-fiddler Elana James talks about the music called Western swing, she pays homage to the first generation of musicians who created that style. James is one-third of the modern swing band Hot Club of Cowtown. “When the band started we were fortunate to play with some of the first generation” of musicians, like Leon Rausch and Bobby Koffer, she said. “I feel like I have a connection to something very authentic, and I’m very grateful for that”
Extra! Extra! The North American tour of the Broadway hit “Newsies” launches this fall, and Durham is on the list of tour cities. The Disney “Newsies” website announced Durham along with 23 other cities including Charlotte, where it will be performed at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in January 2015. The date for “Newsies” at DPAC has not yet been announced.
The ArtsCenter will begin its 40th year with a music series that includes a concert by reggae music pioneers The Wailers. Other musicians who will perform at the center are ArtsCenter favorites Robin and Linda Williams, and newer ensembles such as Hot Club of Cowtown and Gangstagrass.
The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle will perform a concert Jan. 12 honoring composer Robert Ward, who died in April. Ward won the Pulitzer Prize for his opera “The Crucible.” He also composed choral works, chamber music and works for other ensembles. He was a former chancellor of the N.C. School of the Arts, and a longtime Duke University music professor.
Andrew Tyson, pianist, will be the guest artist for this 3 p.m. concert at the Carolina Theatre. The orchestra will perform Ward’s Symphony No. 6.
Kehillah Synagogue will present six documentary films about Israel beginning Jan. 11 and continuing Saturday evenings through March. Each film screening will be followed by a discussion led by Duke University professor Shai Ginsburg. This is the second year Kehillah Synagogue is hosting the series.
Imani Winds is a New York-based wind quintet that has expanded the repertoire for this traditional type of ensemble. Imani has collaborated on new music with composers like Wayne Shorter and Jason Moran. The quintet will perform music by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Danilo Perez and others in a concert Jan. 18 in Baldwin Auditorium on Duke University’s East Campus.