Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2000

The opening reception for the Alaska Positive photography exhibit is a great way to start a weekend packed with entertainment. The reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Alaska State Museum is free and many of the local photographers will attend.

Pianist Natalia Bolshakova will perform Saturday night with the Juneau Symphony and this season premier promises to be an excellent concert. Brian Wallace photographed the rehearsal Tuesday for the Empire and sang her praises for the rest of the week. He was particularly impressed by her sensitivity and dynamics.

"She had the whole range of the piano, from Elijah shouting from the mountaintop to the softest notes from a caress of the keys. Of course, I had the benefit of having my head right next to the piano," he said.

The Russian-born virtuoso will be featured in the second half of the concert in Brahms' "Piano Concerto No. 1." The program also includes Rimsky-Korsakov's "Procession of the Nobles" and Respighi's "The Pines of Rome."

Kyle Wiley Picket will make his debut Saturday night as the symphony's new conductor. He loves this music and will give a pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. I guarantee you will appreciate the music more if you come early for this. Knowing the stories behind the composers and the emotion that went into the music makes it so much richer. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.

Northern River, arguably Alaska's finest bluegrass band, comes to Juneau for two nights of music at the Alaska Bar. The band delivers the high, lonesome sound of traditional bluegrass with sincerity and drive. Northern River starts at 9 p.m. tonight and Saturday and there's no cover.

Fiddler Gerry Harrington, singer-guitarist Peter Gilmour and button accordionist Charlie Piggott bring the traditional music of Ireland to Juneau tonight. All three players are Irish. The concert will emphasize authentic, older Irish tunes, and Gilmour will sing a few songs as well. They take the stage at 8 p.m. at Northern Light United Church.

I am a member of the Alaska Folk Festival, which is sponsoring the event. Another festival volunteer, Greg McLaughlin, is producing the concert, and he said Charlie Piggott has a wealth of knowledge about Irish music.

"Charlie is a great historian and he wrote a really incredible book -- interviews with traditional musicians from all over the country," McLaughlin said. "He went to their houses, recorded them, got their life stories and condensed them down. He's really strongly into the tradition. He's got that old connection, keeping that tradition alive."

Like Wiley Pickett, Piggott will share that rich musical history at the concert along with the music.

Performer Rod Molzahn does a one-man show as William Shakespeare at 8 tonight at UAS Student Activities Center in Auke Bay. He's developed an interesting performance -- part act, part improvisation and part Shakespearean theater. I saw him last year and was very entertained.

He comes out as Shakespeare, but it's staged as if the audience has come into the country home of the retired playwright and poet as his guests. He fields questions and converses in character, working from a well-researched and meticulously developed backstory. I was impressed by how much the audience embraced the game.

John Straley, in my mind, is the best writer working in the subgenre of Alaska mysteries. His five novels, set in Juneau, Sitka and other Southeast Alaska communities, have been well received critically and commercially. The poet, private investigator and novelist will read from his soon-to-be-released sixth mystery and answer questions about writing at 7 tonight at the downtown library.

On a similar note, Alaska fiction writer Joe Karson from Fairbanks is coming down with Northern River and will read from his latest short story collection, "Dining with Hitler and Hemingway" at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Gastineau Suite of the Baranof Hotel.

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