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Stefon Harris

The classically trained vibraphonist/percussionist Stefon Harris is playing his home turf this weekend with a show at the Egg tomorrow (Friday). Two years ago, the Grammy-nominated jazz artist performed a commissioned piece at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, and the 11-movement suite received such praise that Harris got a 12-piece group together in the studio a month later to record it. The Grand Unification Theory was the outcome.

Albany native Harris claimed Charlie Parker as the reason he turned toward jazz from classical, and he first became known as a session guy in the mid-’90s for Charlie Hunter, among others. He gathered steam and found his own style through his first two albums, A Cloud of Red Dust (1998)—voted best debut at the NY Jazz Awards—and Black Action Figure (1999); and his third, Kindred, was a jointly led session with similarly gifted pianist-arranger Jacky Terrasson. He quickly earned kudos as “one of the most important young artists in jazz,” as the Los Angeles Times put it.

The Grand Unification Theory finds the artist expanding and exploring. It was the first time Harris composed and arranged for a large band—not to mention leading one. And the subject matter of the piece, which initially was going to be a 15-minute work for his quartet but ended up a 75-minute opus, delves into Harris’ personal philosophy, a meld of physics (hence the album’s title), religion and art.

Stefon Harris and his newly formed quintet, Blackout, will perform selections from The Grand Unification Theory as well as new compositions tomorrow (Friday, June 6) at the Egg (Swyer Theatre, Empire State Plaza, Albany). Red Clay Jazz will open the show, which starts at 8 PM. Tickets are $24. Call 463-0775.

Art on Lark

Every June, artists, artisans, musicians and entertainers from all over the Capital Region gather together on Albany’s downtown bohemian Lark Street for a day of family fun, entertainment and sampling a wide variety of arts and crafts. The time is here once again: On Sunday there will be all sorts of jewelry (like the necklaces pictured, by Elissa Halloran), artsy and crafty things to browse, there will be all kinds of musicians performing to delight fans of most genres, and there will be various workshops and games for the kids. However, there has been a huge change to this year’s event: Due to the of reconstruction of Lark Street currently in progress, the festival will take place on Washington Avenue, on the blocks between Lark and Swan streets. So really, it’s Art on Lark on Washington. But we won’t be nit-picky.

One of the highlights of the event is the annual People’s Choice Art Show (usually held in the Trinity Methodist Church, this year the show will be held in the Albany Public Library), showcasing the works of area artists. This show also features the People’s Choice Award, where festivalgoers can vote for their favorite piece of artwork.

A new feature of this year’s Art on Lark is a series of screenings of Albany Independent Film Forum short films. Three new films—More Than Friends? by Jeff Burns; Frenzy by Heather Blossom Brown; and Graceland by Dan and Joe Masucci—will be shown, as well as three of the best films from AIFF events earlier in the year, including The Situationist by Dean Giagni. The films will be shown throughout the day; visit the library when you arrive to catch the schedule.

Art on Lark (on Washington) will take place Sunday (June 7) from noon to 5 PM. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact the Lark Street Business Improvement District at 434-3861.

Capitol Chamber Artists

There is rare, and then there is rare. The Capitol Chamber Artists will present the latter Saturday and Sunday when they perform a chamber-ensemble arrangement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the “Choral Symphony.” Prepared by Frederic Kalkbrenner, a colleague of Beethoven’s, this transcription took three years to track down. The original German publisher had no copy of the score, and no record of its publication. The folks at CCA didn’t give up, however. After searching around the world—via “extensive” correspondences with music libraries—one copy of Kalkbrenner’s arrangement was found. This transcription is scored for flute, violin, cello and fortepiano, with four singers performing both the solo and choral parts in the final movement.

This music had its contemporary “re-premiere” at the Beethoven Society in Vienna last year, and immediately created a stir in classical music circles. The European Society for Arts and Culture weighed in with this pronouncement: “Who among us have ever imagined [Beethoven’s Ninth] as chamber music? . . . One can almost be sure that a whole new debate . . . will have begun.”

Capitol Chamber Artists will present the U.S. premiere of the chamber version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 on Saturday (June 7) at 7 PM at the First Congregational Church (405 Quail St., Albany). The program will be repeated on Sunday (June 8) at 2 PM at the Community Hall in Benson, Vt. Tickets are $18 general admission and $8 for students. For more information, call 458-9231.


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