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Continuous City

In a world dominated by transnational corporations and ruled by an international economic marketplace, it’s ironic—but not surprising—that millions of people never leave home. Other millions barely have a place they can call home. This more privileged class, who work for, or in the shadows of, the world economy, travel from “Shanghai to Los Angeles, Toronto to Troy,” keeping contact with their fellow air- and Internet-age nomads with e-mail, cell phones, Webcasts and blogs.

The Troy reference in the quoted blurb brings us to EMPAC, where the Builders Association, a New York City-based company, will present Continuous City, a work based on the travails of the latter class of world travelers. A multimedia piece featuring actors, laptops and a stage worth of video screens, it is “a fable about how contemporary experiences of location and dislocation stretch us to the maximum as our ‘networked’ selves move through the world.”

Builders Association will perform Continuous City tonight (Thursday, Dec. 4) and tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 5) at 8 PM at EMPAC (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy). Tickets are $15 general admission; $10 students, seniors and RPI faculty/staff; and $5 RPI students. For more info, call 276-3921.

Ra Ra Riot

It’s been an eventful couple of years for the Syracuse-birthed Ra Ra Riot, one of the best indie-pop-rock bands to come out of central New York since, well, longer than we can remember. They made a national impression soon after getting together. They were signed to a major label, opened for Art Brut in New York, and were praised thusly by Spin.com in April 2007: “On their snappier numbers . . . they possess a sunny, twee disposition, warmed over by swaths of cello and violin and propelled by a pleasingly anxious rhythm section.”

Then they lost their drummer in a tragic accident; they lost their label when V2 went the way of the tricerotops. Still, they’ve bounced back: Ra Ra Riot just (as in a few days before Thanksgiving) finished a European tour opening for Vampire Weekend, and are touring here in support of their recently released album, The Rhumb Line.

Ra Ra Riot, with special guests So Many Dynamos and Princeton, will perform tonight (Thursday, Dec. 4) at 8 PM, upstairs at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). Tickets are $12. For more info, call 432-6572.

Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra

“It’s a time of traditions and touchstones—a time to come back to things we know,” said Boston Pops musical director and conductor Keith Lockhart in a recent telephone interview.

He was talking about the holiday season, of course, one of the two with which the pops have become indelibly identified. (If you’ve ever been in Boston on July 4, you know that the other is Independence Day.) With Lockhart as well as earlier conductors John Williams and longtime Pops icon Arthur Fiedler, the orchestra have played thousands of seasonal concerts and released a half-dozen excellent albums of holiday music on RCA Victor, Deutsche Grammophon and their own Boston Pops imprint.

Leroy Anderson originally wrote “Sleigh Ride” for them to perform.

But precisely because they are so associated with Christmas, and because they do 30 to 40 holiday concerts every year, Lockhart explained, the Pops are “always looking for a newer tradition.”

“Our ‘great idea’ for this year is an adaptation of The Polar Express, using images from the book and music [by Alan Silvestri] from the movie.”

There will also be a new arrangement of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This carol has been often parodied because of its repetition, but Lockhart said they tackled it in spite of this: “We thought that there has to be a way to arrange this so it’s engaging and fun.”

“Of course,” Lockhart said, “there are certain things we can’t get away without playing.”

You can expect to hear “Sleigh Ride,” Lockhart said, as well as many other favorite carols and works associated with this time of the year. And Santa will make his traditional appearance, too.

Keith Lockhart will conduct the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra tomorrow (Dec. 5) at 8 PM at Proctors Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $40 to $90. For more info, call the box office at 346-6204.

—Shawn Stone


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