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Burnt Hills Oratorio Society

Once in a while there is a perfect match between work and venue. Albany’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception once hosted a Albany Symphony Orchestra performance of Beethoven’s stirring Symphony No. 9 that soared to the building’s gothic rafters. This Saturday night, the Cathedral will welcome the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society (and soloists and orchestra), who will present Brahms’ equally profound Ein Deutsches Requiem.

“Probably no other composer in the history of music began thinking about a requiem as early in life as Brahms.” So wrote musical historian and critic Kurt Pahlen. No surprise here. For various reasons of temperament and tragic circumstance, Johannes Brahms (the gruff fellow with the beard, pictured) was not an overly cheerful man. But he transformed his various personal sorrows—romantic, professional and family-oriented—into a work of great power and consolation, a work that, in the words of critic Troy Peters, “may be the most comforting, humane requiem ever written.”

The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, with soloists and orchestra, will perform Brahms’ Requiem on Saturday (May 8) at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Madison Avenue and Eagle Street, Albany). Tickets are $25. For more information, call 373-8170.

Tulip Festival

All right, we know the focus of the Tulip Festival (aka Pinksterfest) is supposed to be the flowers—those beautiful tulips that lure the suburbanites to Albany’s Washington Park and reconnect the city, sort of, with its Dutch heritage. But this year, we’re fascinated by the new amphibious service, Albany Aqua Ducks. If you haven’t seen the amphibious vehicle tooling around town yet, it’s a white truck-boat, brightly decorated with images of perky yellow ducks. Normally it operates from the Albany Visitor’s Center—near the river, logically enough—but for the Tulip Fest, you can board at the corner of Madison and New Scotland avenues, by the park, for your aquatic adventure. You can buy tickets there or at the Aqua Ducks ticket tent, which will be located near the Moses statue.

Of course, there will be plenty of the usual fun in the park: vendors, music and the pageantry surrounding the Tulip Queen.

Saturday’s musical headliner (at 4:15 PM) will be Delbert McClinton, whose rough-edged-but-still-classy Texas boogie has won him a loyal following for three decades. Also on Saturday will be equally interesting red-hot-mama Marcia Ball, along with Cliff Street, Bluz House Rockers, Tar Beach and Jerkwater Ruckus. On Sunday, the toplined act (at 4:15 PM) will be Brazilian musical legend Sergio Mendes (pictured). Blurring the lines between bossa nova, jazz and pop, Mendes created some of the most indelible hits of the ’60s with “Pretty World,” and cool-as-a-summer-breeze covers of “Night and Day” and “Fool on the Hill.” Also on Sunday: Monkey Gone Mad, Georgie Wonders Orchestra, New York Voices, Sean Rowe and Rob Beaulieu & Raisinhead.

If you want to see the Dutch-themed kickoff to all this fun, the Tulip Queen contestants will be scrubbing State Street (at Lodge Street, downtown) tomorrow (Friday, May 7) at noon.

The Tulip Festival will be held in Washington Park (Albany), this Saturday (May 8) and Sunday (May 9) from 11 AM-6 PM each day. For more information, visit

Brenda Hutchinson

That’s really not what you think it is. Really, it’s not.

She’s actually exhaling into that thing. It’s called a long tube.

The long tube is a homemade electroacoustic instrument that composer Brenda Hutchinson uses to extend her vocal techniques. “I find power and beauty in ordinary expression, and in everyday sounds,” says Hutchinson. She gathers much of her inspiration from her own experiences “as a woman in the field of electronic music, performance, composition and sound art. Women have a very strong voice,” she continues, “and we need to turn up the volume.”

Hutchinson certainly plans to turn up the volume this evening. For tonight’s show, she will perform a series of improvisational pieces on the long tube, then collaborate with several local pianists to perform her piece, “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?” in a presentation that’s being promoted as a “soundtrack for a warm spring evening in the Capital Region.” Here’s hoping they’re on the mark with that “warm” thing.

This show also marks the end of the Spring season of the Impulse Response concert series at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. In case you’ve been trapped in a well or buried under rubble for the last few years, Impulse Response is a Troy-based group dedicated to fostering the performance of eclectic electronic and otherwise unclassifiable music. They’ve brought some of the country’s most talented and accomplished performers to the area in its four years, including Hutchinson and her tube, of course.

Brenda Hutchinson will perform at the Arts Center of the Capital Region (265 River St., Troy) tonight (Thursday, May 6). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $5 general admission, $3 for students and seniors. For more information, call the Arts Center at 273-0552.

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