December 7, 2007
The Aspen Choral Society has come far in its three decade history. The organization stretches across the valley, with community choirs in Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Over the last several years, the Choral Society has undertaken the feat of premiering ambitious new works by its director, conductor and resident composer, Ray Vincent Adams. And its spring concerts have moved into the Aspen Music Festival’s wondrous Harris Hall. But the group has maintained its roots; it started with performances of Handel’s and 30 years later, Handel’s 1742 masterwork, with its universally known “Hallelujah” chorus, remains a signature part of the repertoire. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 11-12, at the United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs, and Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15, in Aspen. To celebrate the anniversary, the Aspen performances are at the Wheeler Opera House, where the late John Denver memorably sang the “Every Valley” chorus years ago.
No, guitar rock did not exactly disappear in the 1980s. But formed in Amherst, Mass. in 1989 by six-stringer J Mascis, put the full potential of the electric guitar ” stinging, wandering and, above all, loud ” out front in a way that reached back to Black Sabbath and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. (Perhaps the biggest influence on Dinosaur Jr., though, was Sonic Youth ” an ’80s band.) Through the first half of the ’90s, the lineup changed regularly ” not that it mattered much; the focus remained squarely on Mascis and his guitar excursions. In the late ’90s, Mascis finally retired the Dinosaur Jr. name and launched a career under his own name. But in 2005, he reunited the original trio, with bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph. This year, the three released “Beyond,” an album that demonstrates that the band hasn’t misplaced its emphasis at all. Guitar lovers, give thanks. Dinosaur Jr., which canceled a scheduled Aspen appearance last summer, is set to play Belly Up on Saturday, Dec. 15.
A proud Bostonian, in his directorial debut, Ben Affleck goes the overkill route in portraying his hometown in The accents are wicked killer; the working-class streets in which the film is set looks like a parade of the grotesque; and everyone is either a cop or on the run from them. But Affleck has more on his mind than serving up the quirks of the Dorchester neighborhood. His adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel, about a 4-year-old girl abducted from a hideously addicted mother, has such high energy and moral intensity that the neighborhood freaks really do become a sideshow. “Gone Baby Gone” is a formula picture; there are the rogues posing as good cops, the locals who know enough not to trust them, and the ever-tightening knot that closes in on the guilty parties. It is, however, a useful formula, and Affleck squeezes a tense story out of it. And while the star ” Casey Affleck, the director’s brother ” looks better than most, he’s as morally questionable as the rest. The film is showing this week in Aspen.