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Rainer Maria

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Joseph Maria Rilke—it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, eh? Thankfully, the realist poet shortened that first chunk down to the more manageable Rainer, and the rest, as they say, was history. Considered one of the finest voices of the early 20th century, the Czechloslovakia-born Rilke wrote hundreds upon hundreds of verses prior to his tragic death, the result of a wound from a thorny rose. Now that’s poetry in motion.

Fast forward about 75 years to a Thai restaurant in Madison, Wis., where three poetry- and punk-rock-loving students decided that their new band would share its name with the poet who once wrote, “A work of art is good if it has grown out of necessity.” It was a bold move, sure—that phrase has been used to excuse more than its share of terrible art—but as the coed trio began to write and perform, the urgency and lust in their music spoke for itself. They play music because they have to, in a way, and their efforts have gradually paid off. Rainer Maria’s most recent album, Long Knives Drawn, went to the top of the CMJ charts in early 2003, and their forthcoming fifth LP is among the more hotly anticipated indie-rock release of the spring.

Rainer Maria will hit the upstairs stage at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 10), along with two local bands we haven’t heard from in ages: Rockets and Blue Lights and Kitty Little. Tickets for the 8 PM show are $10. For more information, call the club at 432-6572.


Among other celebrated qualities, installation artist Cai Guo-Qiang is known for thinking big.

Take his planned contribution to the contemporary section of the 1996 Guggenheim exhibition China: 5000 Years. According to the official artist’s statement on his Web site, Guo-Qiang wanted to “borrow” a few boulders from a mountain in China, hire workers to roll ’em down from wherever they were, load ’em on a boat and ship ’em to New York. When the exhibit was over, the boulders would be shipped back to China, rolled up the hill and returned to their original perches. While this didn’t happen—owing to political interference—the artist says, “Still now, every time I see the curator, we laugh and say what a pity it was that such a foolish but delightful project was never realized.”

His new show, Inopportune, opens at MASS MoCA this weekend, and it’s being described as “his most expansive installation to date.” It’s certainly going to be massive, and likely to be spectacular, judging from MASS MoCA’s description of the three-part exhibit. That is, if we could comprehend what the curators are describing. The first part features nine identical white cars suspended as if, by “stop-action,” in “mid-air.” Part two has nine “realistic” tigers that leap, pounce and are impaled, midflight, by bamboo spears. (It’s based on a fable.) Part three will put you in the middle of a 90-second continuous film loop of a “phantom” car, fireworks and Times Square at night.


Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune opens this Saturday (Dec. 12) at MASS MoCA (1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.) and will continue through Oct. 2005. For more information, call (413) 662-2111 or visit

Albany Symphony Orchestra

The ASO are taking their act on the road again this weekend to Saratoga, Troy and Pittsfield with the intriguing holiday program, Christmas in China. Eclectic as ever, music director David Alan Miller and the symphony will perform traditional works by Handel, Mozart (Symphony No. 35), Vaughn Williams and Pachelbel, and contemporary compositions by Tan Dun, Dorothy Chang (Make a Joyful Noise, a world premiere) and Bun-Ching Lam.

The featured soloist will be internationally renowned pipa virtuoso Wu Man (pictured). If you want to hear a sample of her playing, check out

The Albany Symphony Orchestra will present Christmas in China tonight (Thursday, Dec. 9) at 7:30 PM at the Canfield Casino (Congress Park, Saratoga Springs); tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 10) at 8 PM at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (State Street and Second Avenue, Troy); and Saturday (Dec. 11) at 7:30 PM at the First United Methodist Church (55 Fenn St., Pittsfield, Mass.). Tickets are $37.50-$18.75. For tickets and information, call 465-4755 (Saratoga and Pittsfield concerts), 584-4132 (Saratoga concert) or 273-0038 (Troy concert).

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