October 30, 2009
Some years ago, New Yorker Winifred Horan set her mind to becoming a classical violinist, even attended the Aspen Music School for a summer. Eventually, the Irish in her overwhelmed her musical ambitions and, after performing as a musician and dancer in Irish competitions, she met Seamus Egan, who had been born in Pennsylvania but raised in Ireland. In 1996, the two formed Solas, and the band has been weaving an original, captivating blend of Irish and American styles ever since. The rest of the membership – singer Mairead Phelan, guitarist Eamon McElholm and accordionist Mick McAuley – all hail from Ireland, and the Irish influence is strong. But the quintet is as likely to put a moody, contemporary spin on Bob Dylan’s “Dignity” as they are to play a medley of ancient jigs and reels. A spectacular live group, Solas performs Saturday, Nov. 7 at Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House.
Paul Giamatti is a most interesting actor, willing to gamble with offbeat roles in “Sideways” and “American Splendor.” He is also a curious fellow off-screen; his Brooklyn neighbors frequently report seeing the actor scowling and muttering – possibly a result of not earning Oscar nominations for either “Sideways” or “American Splendor.” “Cold Souls” offers a look at both the actor and the person. In Sophie Barthes’ dark comedy, Giamatti plays an actor named Paul Giamatti, who is agonizing over his performance in a production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” Giamatti happens upon a solution – a company that can extract a person’s soul. This soul, however, turns out to be the size of a chickpea, and is eventually implanted in the body of a Russian soap star. “Cold Souls,” co-starring David Strathairn and Emily Watson, shows Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 4-6, at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.