Arts News

Samirah Evans and Eugene Uman live-host a broadcast of last year’s Vermont Jazz Center Big Band online art 8 p.m. tonight (Dec. 12).

Contributions should be sent to jim.lowe@rutlandherald.com or jim.lowe@timesargus.com at least two weeks in advance.

VJC Big Band

BRATTLEBORO — What can you do on a chilly December evening after finishing a hearty winter meal? How about joining the Vermont Jazz Center community for a live-stream, virtual swing dance with your sweetie? So roll up the rug, put on your dancing shoes and prepare your favorite beverage in anticipation of a night of swinging, danceable music.

At 8 p.m. tonight, the Vermont Jazz Center will present its annual swing dance gala. Formerly scheduled as a concert with Wanda Houston and the VJC 7, the live element of this show has been scaled down from eight musicians to just two.

Samirah Evans and Eugene Uman will be recorded live at the VJC. They will be virtually hosting the VJC’s 17-piece big band via choice video selections recorded at last year’s gala. After hearing about this shift, the co-sponsor of this show, Steve Lieberman, laughed, noting that, “Everything is different this year.” So true, but with change arises opportunity.

Vocalist Evans and pianist Uman will perform swinging tunes as a duo that will segue into sets of three big band tunes chosen from the VJC Big Band’s most recent performance (December 2019) honoring Nat King Cole. The 2019 concert captures New York vocalist Miles Griffith performing the songs that Cole made famous.

Admission is free (donations will benefit the VJC Scholarship Fund); go online to vtjazz.org 

Scrag’s ‘Messiah’

MARSHFIELD — Scrag Mountain Music presents a new and innovative format of the beloved "Messiah" seasonal tradition. Acclaimed vocalists and pianists including Vermont artists Mary Bonhag (soprano), Erik Kroncke (bass), Mary Jane Austin (piano), and Lynnette Combs (piano), together with Kelly Guerra (mezzo-soprano), Daniel McGrew (tenor) and Eric Sedgwick (piano) showcase the rich solos that shape George Frideric Handel’s 1741 masterpiece.

Interspersed with these solos will be readings of the choral numbers by members of the Vermont Philharmonic. Scrag’s “Messiah” solos will be live-streamed at 7:30 p.m. at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, in part from the Bethany Church in Montpelier.

Bonhag, Scrag’s co-artistic director, came up with the idea for this re-envisioned “Messiah” on a morning walk. “With continued in-person gathering restrictions, we hope that this offering will help fill this annual tradition for many. We’re excited to present this program to not only support our community of listeners, but also our community of artists, many of whose livelihoods are still on pause because of the pandemic. All proceeds from this concert will go to supporting the participating artists.

The program is “pay what you can” with at-will donations collected. For details and to register, call 802-377-3161, or go online to www.scragmountainmusic.org

More for ‘Zoom’

MONTPELIER — Due to popular demand, Green Room Productions will air the recorded version of “Two for Zoom” Dec. 18-20.

After getting great audience feedback and a glowing Times Argus review, Green Room was persuaded to extend the run by disappointed theater lovers who couldn’t attend the live performances.

“Two for Zoom,” is a double header of two one-acts written expressly for Zoom. In “Missing Ingredients,” starring Kianna Bromley and Maren Langdon Spillane, a woman on a Zoom call helps her sister make a birthday cake for her son in the aftermath of a family tragedy. In “Zoe,” starring Maren Langdon Spillane and Eric St. John, a man convinces his ex-wife to video chat despite her reluctance to dredge up their past.

The plays, directed by Joanne Greenberg, use the backdrop of the 2020 pandemic to illuminate the difficulties and inherent humor in contemporary family life. Both were written to be performed on a video a call, so they fit naturally into the platform on which audiences view them.

Tickets are $10 for viewing anytime from 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 to midnight Sunday, Dec 20; go online to greenroomproductions.anywhereseat.com 

‘A Winter’s Eve’

EAST MONTPELIER — Stories for a Winter’s Eve creates the magic and warmth of gathering around the fireplace with family to share stories and songs of the season. This year, from the comfort of your home, you can enjoy the original short stories by Vermont authors Mark Nash and Kathryn Blume, and songs by Vermont musicians Pete Sutherland and Patti Casey.

This beloved tradition, presented by The Old Meeting House Arts Ministry, is a free holiday gift to the community and beyond. It will be streamed beginning at 8 a.m. Dec 19 and remain available through Jan 3.

Nash, former Vermont Stage artistic director, is joined by Blume, his wife and an actress, to share funny, poignant and heartwarming tales of friendship, generosity, and community. Ornamented by Casey and Sutherland's original music, the program is designed to lift the spirits during a holiday season that may be particularly challenging this year.

Go online to www.commarts.org/omh/ for information, or to receive the link to this event.

‘Pride 1983’

MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Folklife Center and the Pride Center of Vermont are presenting “Pride 1983,” a new online exhibit. Through interviews with organizers, photographs and scanned images of historic documents, the exhibit explores the origins and lasting legacies of Vermont’s first Pride March on June 25, 1983, in Burlington.

On that day, the First Lesbian and Gay Pride March in Vermont took place in Burlington, 14 years after the Stonewall Uprising in New York City. From the very beginning, the Pride events in Vermont were a celebration as well as a march. Some 350 people rallied in City Hall Park and marched through downtown Burlington — a memorable event that has taken place in either Burlington or Montpelier every year since.

“The original activists and participants were generous with their time and wisdom in working with us on ‘Pride 1983,’” said exhibit curator Meg Tamulonis. “I am so moved by their willingness to speak with us and their real bravery in publicly marching for Pride in 1983, when so much was at risk.”

Curated by Tamulonis of the Vermont Queer Archives — a program of the Pride Center of Vermont — “Pride 1983” draws on archival materials from that collection as well as from UVM Special Collections, the Out in the Open Andrews Inn Oral History Project, and the personal collections of those featured in the exhibit. In addition, Tamulonis worked with the Vermont Folklife Center to conduct interviews with 12 activists and organizers crucial to the establishment of Pride in Burlington.

Visit vtfolklife.org/pride-1983 online to view the virtual exhibit.

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