Best bets: Upcoming: Classical concert, updated classic

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2002

Winter is the season for arts and entertainment in Juneau. The next couple of weeks offers three concerts, two plays, a couple of dances, a comedy show and several new gallery openings.

Maybe you don't have a lot of classical music CDs in your collection. Maybe you prefer rock bands over symphonies and karaoke over chamber music. But next week at Northern Light United Church three virtuoso musicians will perform an evening of classical music not to be missed.

This promises to be an accessible program of fine music in a relaxed atmosphere. Two seasoned professional performers and recording artists are touring Alaska as part of the Sitka Summer Music Festival Winter Classics concert series. Violinist Martin Beaver and pianist Boris Slutsky are both professors at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

The concert program is excellent: Each will play a solo piece, and they will play two sonatas together and a third with Juneau violinist Paul Rosenthal.

The music showcases the violin and piano and highlights the talents of the musicians. It's also a chance to hear the music in a fairly intimate setting. There is a fine grand piano at church and there's no need for amplification for this music.

Rosenthal founded the Sitka festival and has helped bring excellent musicians to Alaska for three decades. Although he lives in Juneau, his career as a concert violinist takes him all over the world and this is a good opportunity to hear some of his playing right here at home.

The guest musicians are top-notch. They've played with major symphonies in North America, won a plethora of prestigious competitions, performed all over the world and recorded dozens of CDs. The music starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday, Jan. 31, is another one-night-only performance, this time featuring actors. Perseverance Theatre offers "Moby Dick," a reprise of the show staged last spring. This performance, at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium, is a baptism by fire in Juneau before the cast embarks on a month-long tour.

Perseverance created the play a year ago and went far beyond simply retelling Melville's classic story. The Alaska "Moby Dick" captured a dozen key scenes from the novel, but also looked at Inupiat whaling traditions, subsistence, the devastation wreaked by industrial whaling, and life in New England whaling centers in the 19th century. It was a rich mix and a success.

The restaging draws upon the strengths of the original show, with some modifications. One original cast member won't be touring, so the show has been adapted for five players instead of the original six. It also features a new set. Given the talent of the cast and the power of the material, this promises to be an evening of fine entertainment.

One ticket gets you two comedians Friday night at Marlintini's Lounge. Comics Danny Villalpando and Gary Brightwell of Los Angeles perform a double-header comedy show Friday night. Marlintini's has brought in a series of comedians this fall, working with Jerry Evans of Comedy North in Fairbanks, and the shows have been a success.

Evans has connections with a pool of talented professional comics. All have extensive experience in the comedy club circuit and have performed on a range of television comedy programs and specials. Villalpando and Brightwell could easily merit a $12 ticket for a solo show, and this is an opportunity to see two sets from two pros. The show starts at 8 p.m.

Saturday night the Juneau Pride Chorus and Friends presents "A Gift of Song," a concert with the chorus and five other short sets by other singers and musicians. The choir will perform 10 songs. Guests Cheryl Cook and Kathy Hocker will sing a duet; Toby Clark will sing accompanied by Lorrie Heagy; Gani Ruthellen and guitarist and singer Corin Whittemore will perform a few songs; Collette Costa will sing; and pianist and singer J. Althea will do a few songs. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Northern Light United Church.

This week it seemed that winter has arrived in Juneau. If the cold holds through the weekend, this may be the time to get the skates out and enjoy the ice while you can. Snow has piled up in the backcountry. This may be our window of winter. It could rain for the entire month of February, so seize the clear, cold days and get outside while you can.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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