Special thanks to guest blogger Sandra A. Miller, ACA Board of Directors and Co-Chair of ACA’s “Silver!” 25th anniversary celebration
When Peter Lehman plays the theorbo, he cradles the large 17th century lute so intimately, his chin nearly touching the fret board the body held tight to his chest, that one gets the sense he’s listening to the quiet whisperings of a Renaissance muse. Then, slowly, one-by-one, Lehman is joined by the four other members of the Foggy Mountain Consort, a double bass player, a singer, a banjo player and a fiddler and something quite unexpected happens. Time folds, the volume swells, and the classical music mixes with blue grass melodies in a rich, exquisite layering of sound, centuries and styles.
The half-hour acoustic concert of “New Old” style music most recently popularized by Yo-Yo Ma’s 2012 album “Goat Rodeo Sessions,” promises to be one of the many highlights of silver!, the Arlington Center for the Arts (ACA) 25th anniversary gala evening on January 26.
The festive event in the ACA theatre, which will also feature a jazz trio during the cocktail hour, a gallery show, a silent auction and affordable works by local artists, is meant to celebrate both the old and new at the art center, that has always been housed in the Gibbs Center on Foster Street in East Arlington.
Established in 1988 by a visionary group of creative residents who wanted a place to work and share their art with the community, the ACA is now a stand-out organization that offers exhibits, performances, and programs for artists and art appreciators of all ages.
“The 25th anniversary is an incredible milestone for our community,” said ACA’s Executive Director John Budzyna, “It’s amazing to think how the ACA has grown from a small group of artists with an idea to an organization that reaches thousands of people every year.”
And, the New Old concert, according to Budzyna, is a natural fit as entertainment for this event.
Lehman, who has a master’s degrees in Fine Arts and another in the performance of early music from the New England Conservatory, said his group will be presenting music by, among others, Johannes Kapsberger, “the Jimi Hendrix of the lute.” An Austrian nobleman who changed his name to Giovanni Kapsberger when he was working in Rome in the 1620s, Kapsberger mastered the intricacies of writing for this unusual style of lute that had only been invented ten years earlier, similar to Jimi Hendrix becoming a virtuoso in the 1960’s on the relatively new electric guitar. Since many of Kapsberger’s songs were lost after World War II and didn’t surface again until recently, they will be getting their contemporary premiere at silver!
“It will be a jewel of a concert,” Lehman promises. “Short but very unusual.”
The gala evening which will take place in the ACA theatre will be the first in a series of 25 special events marking ACA’s silver anniversary year. Some of the popular classics such as Arlington Open Studios in the fall and Shakespeare in the Park held in the summer are on that list of 25, alongside newcomers like an art show and party at Jam ‘n’ Java featuring studio artists from the ACA.
In thinking about the year ahead, Budzyna sees the bright palette of ACA’s future with many new colors in it. He points to the “Images of Arlington” program in which each 5th grader selects a favorite place in town as inspiration for a piece of art. In addition to getting a gallery show at the ACA, this year’s work will be scanned and placed on an interactive online mapping website, giving students a chance to show their work and the place it represents.
"Residents and visitors alike can go to the site and explore specific locations in Arlington through art,” said Budzyna. “It’s a sort of gallery without walls.”
Another brand new addition to the center is the vibrant red carpet that was installed in the theatre last week. Tens of thousands of people have used that space over the years, with more than 40 groups, such as the Arlington Children’s Theatre, hosting events there in 2012 alone. The spiffed-up space should draw even more.
“The theatre is the right mix of contemporary and warm,” said Lehman who is a long-time resident of Arlington. “It really feels like it’s ours—a place for people in this town to perform.” Other members of the Foggy Mountain Consort from Arlington include singer Anne Goodwin and lutenist and bassist Douglas Freundlich. Banjo player Lauck Benson is from Natick and fiddler Art Schatz lives in Newton.
“The Arts Center makes Arlington a richer, more interesting place to live,” said Betsy Baldwin, a member of the volunteer Board of Directors at the ACA and co-chairperson of silver! “You can show your support by coming to this fun, not-to-be missed evening.”
SILVER! A Festive Celebration of ACA’s 25th Anniversary Saturday, January 26, 7-10pm Arlington Center for the Arts 41 Foster Street, Arlington, MA To purchase tickets to silver! go to Acarts.org.