Music at the Red Door Hosts an Intimate Pop-up Recital with Christa Rakich on Harpsichord

In a stirring noontime pop-up concert on a recent Wednesday, Christa Rakich performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s French Suite #5 in G, BWV 816 on the harpsichord as part of Music at the Red Door, a series of online performances hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, CT. Rakich, a masterful interpreter of J. S. Bach’s work on a variety of keyboard instruments, has a lifetime of experience performing this piece. Rakich first learned it as a high school student. “It is a very old and very dear friend,” Rakich says. “Having grown up with it, it has revealed

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Gathering Online for Dance at New Haven’s Neighborhood Music School

With a click, you put yourself on-screen. There you are, in a square in your home. The squares begin to multiply. One by one, people enter, two or five or a dozen squares. Each person springs up in a basement, living room, dining room, bedroom… You greet each other from your boxes, a little shyly, you’re still getting used to this private-public fishbowl. The teacher greets everyone. She waits a few minutes for stragglers, then begins. You stand with a hand on a makeshift barre. Feet in rotated first position, arms rounded in low fifth position. The accompanist’s keyboard tinkles

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McAloon’s Debut Paints Nature in Chords and Complex Harmony

Singer-songwriter Octavia McAloon paints sweeping scenes of natural phenomena — think mountain skylines, rocky stream beds, starlit nighttime skies. “If the aurora borealis could get in not only through your eyes, but through your ears, what would it sound like?” she asks. “Two triads, that kind of go with each other, but that fade in and out against each other, which I think has the aurora’s effect of lights appearing and disappearing,” she answers, in chords. On her debut album, “With Breath of Wind,” set to drop Friday, McAloon supplies her own personal choir for lead vocals — some songs

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Chad Browne-Springer Gives “Intimate, Extraordinary” Performance Across COVID-19 Isolation

So much has erupted out of music and performance in the last two weeks, as we come to grips with a surreal world of COVID-19 isolation. Live-streamed shows, multi-voice and instrumental pieces recorded and assembled remotely, and improvisational jams via Zoom. After a time, we’ll all be able to sit together in one place and play and listen to music again. But even so, there will be a new normal. I’ve been tuning in to The Quarantined Series, organized by Sarah B. Golley to highlight original Connecticut musicians, live-streamed from their homes. Last week I got a chance to hear

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New-Haven-based Sarah Golley Sparks Online Music Event — The Quarantined Series

Every gig got cancelled. Then, a short pause. Then, online live shows began bubbling up and over the lid of the internet. Now a veritable phenomenon, examples of coordinated and impromptu performance are everywhere on social media: story book hours, dance-a-days, video projects of apartment-bound academics on sabbatical in Spain. Musicians are finding new ways to jam, to create, and to perform. NPR is curating a list of live music shows for artists around the country. Here in Connecticut, songwriter and New-Haven based performer Sarah B. Golley organized an ongoing local event,  “The Quarantined Series: A Series of Online Shows

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Poignant Show by Singer-Songwriter Aiofe O’Donovan at Old Saybrook’s Kate

Irish-American singer-songwriter Aiofe O’Donovan summons all the whirring, humming, soaring, straining sounds of the cosmos in her latest solo project, Bull Frogs Croon (And Other Songs). The swoop and plumb of the strings, the poetry in the lyrics, left palpable vibrations in the air in her live performance at The Kate in Old Saybrook on a mid-March Wednesday night, in a set that drew from European classical repertoire, through bluegrass, through O’Donovan’s own compositions. It was a poignant show. The first event of O’Donovan’s U.S. and world tour, the audience responded enthusiastically to a generous set of songs. It could

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HannaH’s Field Warms up Essex with Rasta Folk Performance at Earth & Fire

ESSEX — On the eve of a February leap year, with the barest sliver of a moon hanging in the chill night sky, HannaH’s Field from Farmington gave an intimate studio performance at The Earth & Fire Art Studio & Gallery in Essex, CT. The space is located right on Main Street in Essex and serves as a community gathering place for art and artists of all kinds. Visual art, photography, woodworking, ceramics, jewelry are all displayed. Julie Tigner Bonilla, artist and owner, said this is exactly why she created the studio. “I wanted a place for people to be

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Benny Benack Plays for Love at the Side Door

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OLD LYME — Benny Benack III sang all the sweetheart songs you could wish for on a Valentine’s Day engagement at the Side Door in Old Lyme. He announced, “We’ll fit in as much Great American Songbook as we can here tonight!” With Sinatra-inspired vocals and a great band of friends and contemporaries, he delivered standards like “My Funny Valentine,” “Unforgettable” and “Home is Where the Heart Is” to an audience of Valentine’s couples. Several of his own song compositions followed this swinging nostalgic mode – “Irrepressible,” as well as the up-tempo “A Lot of Livin’ to Do,” the title

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Lark and Thurber Headline Full House at Musical Masterworks Weekend Concerts

Musical Masterworks played to a full house in its February 9th concert at the First Congregational Church in Old Lyme last weekend. The beautiful meetinghouse, built in 1910, has incredible natural acoustics that make it a great spot for the chamber music presented by the 29-year old organization. Artistic Director Edward Arron presided over the event, in a pre-concert talk as well as introductions to each musical piece during the concert. Arron is an engaging and affable speaker and educator, and these qualities translate into his cello playing. His character on cello is that of a considerate, attentive conversationalist who

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Kovgan’s Cunningham Comes Full Circle to Connecticut College

Cunningham, a 2019 biopic by Alla Kovgan about choreographer Merce Cunningham, had a special screening on Saturday in Evans Hall at Connecticut College in New London. Kovgan, who has on hand to introduce the film along with Robert Richter, director of arts programming at Connecticut College, noted the full-circle nature of the screening — several Cunningham pieces included in the film were premiered in Palmer Auditorium at Connecticut College, site of the American Dance Festival from 1948-1977. An iconoclastic choreographer and revered figure in the field of contemporary dance, Cunningham is also something of a con artist, flatly denying he

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Surveying the Jazz Scene in Southeast Connecticut

I went to hear a good bit of jazz in the last month. All jazz. All different permutations. James Baldwin wrote that Jazz – all black American music – has at its origins a necessarily laconic expression, encoding what it was saying with circumspection. It needed to say things without being universally understood. It still does that, often with an extravagant filigree of virtuosity. It misdirects attention from the thing that is really being said, or the thing that is too painful to be said outright. “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson advised readers in a

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Delfeayo Marsalis Tears into Old Lyme’s Side Door

Delfeayo Marsalis and his New Orleans-based Uptown Jazz Orchestra tore into the Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme on Thursday January. The ten-man band wouldn’t wait even for Side Door owner Ken Kitchings to finish his introductions. The procession started in the hall, wove through the sold-out room and up onto the stage. Marsalis called out, “Hello Old Lyme! What I’d like to know is, where’s New Lyme?” Kitchings called back, “You’re making it!” Yes indeed. Marsalis and his brilliant Crescent City players helped nudge that idea just a little closer to reality in a show filled with the

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Vince Ector’s South Philly Groove at the Side Door

Philadelphia, land of the Schuykill River, home of the “South Philly Groove” as defined by Vince Ector, a dynamic jazz percussionist and leader of Organatomy Trio +, a quartet that rolled into the Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme on Friday night. Ector was incredibly relaxed, dressed in an impeccable pink button-down shirt, introducing a song late in the second set by Burt Bacharach. “See, people think that jazz musicians just like jazz. It’s not true! I love pop music. We stole this song. Did all sorts of things to it — we polluted it — and now, here

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Johnny O’Neal Leads Fierce, Playful, Eclectic Night at Old Lyme’s Side Door Jazz Club

Johnny O’Neal — finishing off a busy year of touring with his last gig of the decade at the Side Door in Old Lyme — presided at the piano with grace, ease, and rippling arpeggios. Like a ringmaster in a silver sparkling suit, he led Mark Lewandowski on upright bass and Itay Morchi on drums through dynamically arranged songs, sometimes at scorching paces. But subtlety was an even more notable feature. During piano passages of stunning delicacy, O’Neal turned out deep pockets of finesse, hush, stillness, and blues. Born in Detroit, O’Neal has had a long and tumultuous career, playing

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