Just Do Art: Week of March 2, 2017
OCEAN VUONG: BOOK SIGNING & READING | While one resident of NYC was out on the campaign trail selling the notion of closed borders, another was spending 2016 as a best-selling author. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, poet and essayist Ocean Vuong immigrated to America at the age of two as a child refugee. Released last year by Copper Canyon Press, his “Night Sky with Exit Wounds” was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, and — after thorough vetting — was declared one of the year’s Top 10 Books by none other than that “real news” outlet, the New York Times. Vuong’s upcoming appearance at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) will include a reading from his “Night Sky” poetry collection, as well as the signing of his books. Also at FIT: Through March 5, “New Views 2017” is their third annual large-scale faculty exhibition featuring work from over 70 faculty members across the 17 programs that comprise their School of Art and Design. For details on this free exhibit, visit fitnyc.edu.
The Ocean Vuong reading and book signing is free. Tues., March 7, 5pm at FIT’s Haft Auditorium, Marvin Feldman Center (Seventh Ave., at W. 27th St.). Artist info at oceanvuong.com.
THE CHELSEA SYMPHONY | Audiences the world over can see members of The Chelsea Symphony on the Amazon Prime series “Mozart in the Jungle” — but for residents of the group’s namesake neighborhood, a three-dimensional, no-streaming-subscription-necessary experience is as easy as stepping through the doors of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul.
These upcoming March concerts are the latest in the Symphony’s 2016/2017 “Flight Paths” season, devoted to the music of composers who have been inspired by, or have immigrated to, the United States of America. On both nights, the program includes Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World,” and the world premiere of Danny Gray’s “Summer Mountains” (the winning piece of the TCS Third Annual Composition Competition). Two additional world premieres are performed one night only: On Friday, Sarah Haines, viola, is featured in Michael Boyman’s “Concerto for Viola and Orchestra” — and on Saturday, two tangos by Astor Piazzolla for viola and orchestra feature new arrangements by Adios Nonino. Chelsea Symphony co-founder Miguel Campos Neto returns to conduct both concerts. The orchestra returns to St. Paul’s on April 21 and 22, then concludes its season on June 3 and 4, at W. 37th St.’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music
Fri., March 10 at 8:30pm and Sat., March 11 at 7:30pm. At St. Paul’s (315 W. 22nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.; stpaulny.org). General admission tickets at the door are $20 general. For $25 unassigned seats in the reserved section, visit thechelseasymphony.eventbrite.com. Artist info at chelseasymphony.org. Twitter: twitter.com/chelseasymphony.
CONGREGATION BEIT SIMCHAT TORAH PRESENTS “A CONCERT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE” | Chelsea’s LGBT synagogue fills their new Wine Family Sanctuary with music that gives voice to their mission as an incubator of progressive religious thought, with particular focus on advancing social justice initiatives not just here at home, but throughout the world. The program features the music of Scherzinger, Leclair, Messiaen, and Shostakovich. Also, folk tunes from The Danish String Quartet’s “Wood Works” 2014 CD will be performed by Sebu Sirinian, violin; Lisa Tipton, violin; Robert Zubrycki, violin; Adria Benjamin, viola; Lois Martin, viola; Tomoko Fujita, cello; and Adrienne Kim, piano.
Mon., March 6, 7–8:30pm at CBST (130 W. 30th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Contributions will support CBST’s social justice initiatives, and are tax deductible. Seats begin at $18. For reservations, visit cbst.org and click on the “Upcoming Events” icon on the left side of their home page.
FILM: “THE HUMAN SURGE” | Passing its baton from the flooded streets of Buenos Aires to the grasslands of Mozambique to a swimming hole in the Philippines, “The Human Surge” has the back of its restless cast — at least in the literal sense. Argentinian writer/director Eduardo Williams makes his stubbornly opaque, wonderfully meandering feature film debut by spending an inordinate amount of time tracking a global gaggle of mostly young men from behind as they wander sidewalks, stairs, dark interiors, and dense vegetation in search of a connection — at least in the literal sense.
Whether waterlogged, stolen, hexed, or just plain lacking a decent signal, the access provided by one’s cell phone is every bit as elusive as the promise of something beyond subsistence-level existence. “This film comes from my need to avoid the restraining world of dull jobs,” said Williams in film’s press material. “It comes from my need to move towards curiosity and the discovery of other realities and fantasies.” That’s about as solid a lead as you’ll get from this narratively stingy cinematic walkabout, which is best enjoyed as a cumulative experience to be soaked in and savored, rather than questioned for answers.
Not rated. 97 minutes. In Spanish, Cebuano, and Portuguese with English subtitles. March 3-9 at Metrograph (7 Ludlow St., btw. Canal & Hester Sts.). Call 212-660-0312 or visit metrograph.com.
HIGH LINE OPEN STUDIOS SPRING EVENT | Find out what it took to take that painting from the first brush stroke to the gallery wall, when you take a self-guided walking tour of work spaces between the Westbeth Artists and West Chelsea Arts buildings. Generally open by appointment only, this two-day event invites you into over 30 studios for a glimpse of the creative process — which varies as widely as the multitude of styles and media you’ll be exposed to.
Whether you’re a serious collector or simply curious, this unusual chance to peek behind the curtain is also a rare opportunity to purchase work directly from the creator (at a fraction of the asking price you’ll find at the galleries).
Free. Noon–6pm on Sat., March 4 and Sun., March 5. The self-guided tour starts at the West Chelsea Arts building (508-526 W. 26th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), where you can pick up tour maps and information on participating artists. For more info, visit highlineopenstudios.org.
277 DANCE PROJECT PRESENTS “CARDBOARD STAGE” | Limbs crane skyward and cut through the air as if under the purposeful direction of robotic arms — but the sculpted muscles, intimate tableaus, and expressive movements also declare there’s humanity at work here. Inspired by NYC urban life, 277 Dance Project’s “Cardboard Stage” is an evening-length work of dance and film. Founder, artistic director and co-choreographer Nicole Philippidis oversees a cast of six as they embark on a tense negotiation for individual identity and meaning while navigating the dark, isolated corners and cold, industrial planes of a “dystopian-like” mechanized society. John Philippidis, co-founder of the indie folk band Burlap to Cashmere, contributes original music whose earthen acoustic elements counterbalance the otherwise industrial aesthetic.
Wed., March 8 through Fri., March 10, 7:30pm, at The Underground Theater at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., btw. Pitt & Willett Sts.). For tickets ($20), visit 277danceproject.brownpapertickets.com or purchase at the door. Artist info at 277danceproject.com. Instagram: instagram.com/277danceproject. Facebook: facebook.com/277danceproject.
THE WEST VILLAGE CHORALE | If you’ve ever gone all-in and done the full-throated audience participation thing as part of the West Village Chorale’s annual December “Messiah Sing,” you know firsthand there’s nothing quite like the glorious, thunderous sound that comes from strength in numbers. The Chorale takes that concept and really runs with it for their “Seeing Double Seeing Double” concert. More than 60 singers (twice the Chorale’s usual number) will give voice to this program of music for double choir, curated to maximize the reverberant acoustics of Judson Memorial Church’s Meeting Room.
In addition to a pair of psalm settings by Mendelssohn and a composition by Chorale artistic director Colin Britt that incorporates the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, the five-dozen-strong contingent will be broken into two a capella choirs, for Frank Martin’s rarely performed “Mass for Double Choir.”
Sun., March 5, 5pm at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Sq. South, at Thompson St.). Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door (students, $10 in advance, $15 at the door). For reservations and info, visit westvillagechorale.org.
—BY SCOTT SITFFLER