Music Haven by Kathleen Cei

This Week in New Haven (November 17 - 23)

Places of worship take their place behind New Haven’s proverbial pulpit this week, hosting a holiday shopping tradition of 22 years; an epic coming-together of musicians and singers; and a popular musical that you wouldn’t expect many religious institutions to embrace. Indeed, the local theater scene hits a fever pitch over the weekend with a dizzying array of stagings, even as a once-a-year visual arts itinerary beckons from up the shoreline.

Monday, November 17
The theme for tonight’s 7 p.m. installment of the Listen Here reading series at the Institute Library is “Bitter Sweet,” and though we’re not sure whether that also applies to the coffee and mix of snacks that’ll be served, we’re sure it applies to the reading selections: J.D. Salinger’s The Laughing Man (1949) and Amy Hempel’s In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried (1983). Bitter- and sweetness are heavy ingredients of both, and you can expect that to come through in the able voices of the New Haven Theatre Company actors doing the reading. 847 Chapel Street, New Haven. (203) 562-4045. Free; donations accepted.

Tuesday, November 18
Janet Mock, author of the New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (2012), is a rare transgender media darling, having appeared on TV shows, in magazine pages—lately as a contributing editor for Marie Claire—and, of course, around the web. Today she appears in room 102 of Yale’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall (63 High St, New Haven) for a free 5 p.m. talk, part of the university’s broader Poynter Fellowship in Journalism program, which brings “distinguished reporters, editors and others who have made important contributions to the media” to campus.

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Wednesday, November 19
New Haven’s next PechaKucha—a series of “20×20” presentations wherein New Haveners have 20 slides, shown for 20 seconds apiece, to try to tell us something special—happens tonight at Bentara Restaurant (76 Orange St, New Haven). Starting at 6:30, presenters include local Pilates maestro Sarah Aldrich, who’s set to speak on “The Blessings of Hitting Rock Bottom,” and Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), who wants to explain “Why Refugees Matter to New Haven.” Free to attend.

Thursday, November 20
Located at the corner of Temple and Chapel Streets, the Trinity on the Green church’s 22nd annual Holiday Bazaar is open today through Sunday, and “bazaar” really is the right word for something this organic and many-splendored. Handmade ornaments, winter clothing (hats, gloves, scarves) and prepared foods (savory and sweet, from lunch entrees to desserts to takeaway bottles of preserves), all courtesy of the church’s parishioners, adorn tables and stations surrounded by Christmas garlands and lights and trees. There’s a tag sale section, too, and a silent auction involving “gift certificates for area restaurants and theater, art work, gift baskets, fine wines” and even in-home dinners prepared by “expert volunteer chefs.” The bazaar is open today from noon to 8; tomorrow and Saturday from 9 to 6; and Sunday from 9 to 1.

From time to time, educational non-profit Music Haven (117 Whalley Ave, New Haven; 203-745-9030) helps New Haveners unwind after the grind with live classical music and a bit of wine. The concert series is dubbed “Rush Hour,” and this evening’s 5:30 event is called “Rush Hour III,” being the third such occasion. “The idea is to lure people inside to warm up, chill out and listen to music on their way home from work, rather than sitting in traffic on Whalley Avenue,” says Kathleen Cei, the organization’s communications and general manager (who also snapped the image above). The live music lasts for 40 minutes, and you’ll know you’ve hit the right place if, weather permitting, you see the concert being live-projected onto a rooftop screen. Admission costs $8, or $5 for students and seniors.

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Picasso at the Lapin Agile - Long Wharf Theatre

Friday, November 21
Last night and tonight at 7:30, St. Mary’s, the majestic stone church towering over the foot of Hillhouse Avenue (address #5), hosts a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Yale Opera and the Elm City Girls’ Choir. Together, they’re performing Christopher Theofanidis’s recently penned oratorio Virtue, which “depicts a dramatic encounter between a human soul and its temptation and confrontation with the Devil,” and Giacomo Puccini’s heart-wrenching Suor Angelica, which follows a woman cast out from her life of privilege and sent to a nunnery. The show is titled “Puccini, Virtue and Redemption,” and tickets range from $15 to $74, with an additional $10 option for students.

Saturday, November 22
This weekend, theatrical endeavors, each with showings tonight among others, are as distinctive as their staging locales: the second floor of an old factory, a synagogue with stained-glass windows, a black box behind a vintage shop and, naturally, a traditional theater with all the bells and whistles.

The latter is the Yale Repertory Theatre (1120 Chapel St, New Haven; 203-432-1234), which yesterday opened its world-premiere production of War. The Rep-commissioned play shows us two siblings sniping at each other from across their mother’s hospital room, until a pair of strangers appear to “make a shocking claim about their grandfather’s WWII tour of duty.” Tickets to tonight’s 8 p.m. performance cost $55 (or $20 for students); for pricing and timing details throughout the rest of the three-week run, click here.

The black box is the New Haven Theatre Company’s home inside the English Building Markets (839 Chapel St, New Haven), where, since last Thursday, the NHTC’s been performing The Seafarer, set in Dublin on Christmas Eve. Featuring two brothers, Sharky and Richard, preparing for a night of “poker, booze and old friends,” an uninvited guest from the past shows up to play cards for Sharky’s soul. Performed Thursday, yesterday and today at 8 p.m., tickets are $20, with a $12 option for students.

The synagogue is Congregation Mishkan Israel (785 Ridge Rd, Hamden), where the Square Foot Theatre Company is putting on a production of the insta-classic Rent. Depicting “a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS,” Square Foot’s production opened Thursday at 7:30 p.m., continues tonight at 7:30 again and concludes with a 2 p.m. show tomorrow. $12-22.

And finally, the old factory is Erector Square (315 Peck St, New Haven), where the Collective Consciousness Theatre has been putting on Detroit ’67 since two Thursdays ago. Set at the heart and height of Motown music, the main characters, sister and brother Chelle and Lank, have turned their basement into a speakeasy. Then a “mysterious woman” catalyzes a quarrel, and as the siblings’ “pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and they find themselves caught in the middle of the ’67 riots.” For 8 p.m. shows Thursday, Friday and tonight and 2 p.m. shows today and tomorrow, tickets cost $25, or $10 for students.

Sunday, November 23
Yesterday and today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 2014 Shoreline Arts Trail gets you into 30+ artist studios and galleries across Branford, Guilford and Madison. It’s the annual “Open Studios Weekend,” where highlights include haunting paintings by Lisa Hess Hesselgrave (31 Sachem Rd, Branford), wondrous wearable textile concoctions by Owen Lucky (181 Main St, Branford) and luminous glass sculpture by Barbara Shulman-Kirwin (20C Church St, Guilford). Follow the trail using the official map, which you can get your hands on here.

Written by Dan Mims. Image, depicting Music Haven violinist/executive director Tina Lee Hadari (left) and resident violist Colin Benn, photographed by Kathleen Cei.

Readers are encouraged to verify times, locations and prices before attending events.

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