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Close Encounters With Music

The folks at Close Encounters With Music, who help keep things cooking, culturally speaking, in the Berkshires’ off season, work hard to keep their programs varied. Sometimes they’ll present something large-scale, with multiple performers and renowned actors giving related readings. Other times, their approach is lean and direct—as it will be on Saturday, with a Beethoven program performed by cellist Yehuda Hanani and pianist Walter Ponce.

The Complete Beethoven Cycle, as it is called, will feature Hanani and Ponce performing all of Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano. Sure, everybody loves (or is supposed to love) Beethoven, but what makes this more interesting than the usual evening of music by ol’ Ludwig is that the cello sonatas were written over the entire span of the composer’s career. Should make for some tasty contrasts.

Close Encounters With Music will present the Complete Beethoven Cycle on Saturday (March 18) at 6 PM at St. James Church (Main Street and Taconic Avenue, Great Barrington, Mass.). Tickets are $30, $10 students. For reservations, call (800) 843-0778.


The Arts Center of the Capital Region will spend its spring on both sides of the camera lens with Click, a three-part exhibition that explores the medium of photography and its various incarnations.

Six regional artists—Danny Goodwin, Kathryn Greenwood, Michael Oatman (our readers’ pick for Best Visual Artist), Shawn Lawson, Tara Fracalossi, and Mark Lunt—were asked to create new works of art that unfold through 30 horizontal slides. Yes, that kind of slide. The result is Slide Jam, which opens tomorrow (Friday) and will remain on display through June 4. The artists tackled themes of war, racism, emotion, consciousness, and technology for this project; the results should prove intriguing. For those who are fond of those little cardboard glasses with the red-and-blue lenses, Lawson’s presentation happens to be in 3-D!

Slide Jam also will run concurrently at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany) before movie screenings.

Snap Shots: Photography in the Vernacular (pictured), opening Friday and on display through July 1, tackles the way in which photographs are collected, catalogued and saved, serving both as historical documents and triggers for our own memories.

Speaking of memories, Albany artist Ken Ragsdale will present Memory as Process, an exhibit designed to show the “selectivity of memory.” To create these works, Ragsdale photographed his own handmade paper models of landscapes, houses, and other objects. (Memory as Process opened last week, and will remain on display through May 28.)

The Arts Center of the Capital Region (265 River St., Troy) will hold an opening reception for Click tomorrow (Friday, March 17) from 5 to 8 PM; the event will also serve as a closing reception for the 2006 Arts Center Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition, which ends on March 28. For more information, call 273-0552.

Jane Siberry

Heard a rumor that Jane Siberry has sold out? Don’t believe it. Maybe what you heard is that the Canadian queen of indie art-pop has sold her house and most of her other worldly possessions to live lightly and reclaim her connection to the artist within. Twenty-plus years into a successful career that spanned early indie/cult successes (“Mimi on the Beach,” “One More Colour”) to wider, almost-mainstream popularity (most notably with the hit “Calling All Angels” from her own When I Was a Boy as well as the soundtrack to Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World) to her return to the indie life (including a recording of traditional and classical hymns in 2003 and an upcoming album of original work), Siberry decided that the clutter of her home and business life was crowding out time for what meant the most to her. “I was running a company [her own label Sheeba], running a house, raising money to make records, developing projects,” she recently told the Toronto Star. “I was doing all this to make time to be an artist, yet I was in the ‘artist’ state so rarely.”

Siberry’s burnout from running the record company—she was doing everything from stuffing envelopes to calling people whose credit cards had been declined—led to another remarkable change. Intending to shut down the label, Siberry decided to preserve her catalog by putting it in her online store, Log Cabin, which began selling her songs at a set rate. But when someone contacted her hoping to get a free download of “Calling All Angels” to play for Katrina relief workers, she got a new idea. According to Log Cabin project manager Paul Engel, “It got Jane thinking about her art, and what value it has to people who want it.” So she came up with “self- determined pricing,” whereby online customers decide for themselves whether to pay a suggested going market rate per song (about 99 cents Canadian), or more or less, or nothing at all (an option designated “A gift from Jane”). They also decide whether to pay now or later. She stresses that this is not meant as a test of her customers’ integrity, and that the results so far show that people “have a good sense of balance.”

Though never a huge commercial success, Siberry has long been popular with devoted pockets of cult fans all over the world. Her songs are a blend of honest, intelligent lyrics and smart pop melodies that often border on gorgeous. Her voice has been compared to honey, spun silver, and just about anything else you might associate with an appeal to the heavens.

Jane Siberry will perform solo at the Berkshire Museum (39 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.) tomorrow (Friday, March 17) at 8 PM. Advance tickets are $23 ($20 members); tickets are $25 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (413) 443-7171, ext. 10.

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