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Weekend Picks: WordSong

The Opus Affair’s Graham Wright offers his ideas on what to do this weekend.

What: WordSong Forum at the OBERON

When: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.)

More: It can be hard to get people to really talk critically about music, but more people seem to be ready to talk about poems and stories — and about words in general. At least that’s what the creators of WordSong think. Each WordSong forum begins with introducing a text for consideration — usually a relatively short poem. People respond with their thoughts on images and moods, even just one-word associations with parts of the poem. Next a singer and pianist perform four new songs, all using that same text. Now all of a sudden, it seems that anyone can talk about the music and how it relates to the words, whether you’re a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer or high school music student. Everyone can experience the songs in a new way by spending time with the text first.

After a little break, discussion continues and the songs are all re-interpreted and performed again as part of the discussion. All of the pieces flow organically, like you’re having a salon party with talented, curious friends … and it certainly doesn’t hurt the discussion for people to be enjoying a few drinks the whole time. It’s a fantastic (and unique) way to discover new music.

What: Spencer Day at The Fenway Center at Northeastern University

When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m.

More: Spencer Day is a singer/pianist who came from the tradition of jazz piano clubs and the America Songbook, MGM musicals and jazz standards. He’s opened for Rufus Wainright and appeared at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival and is now making a name for himself as a songwriter in his own original, more contemporary style. This weekend’s concert is being produced by a class of music industry majors at NEU.

What: Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s “The Midsummer Marriage

When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory

More: BMOP is picking up where Opera Boston left off and presenting a concert version of “The Midsummer Marriage,” which would have been Opera Boston’s next show, had they not closed their doors last year. Considering the complexity of the music and the large number of musicians involved, the opportunity to present this work in concert form might actually be a better format.

While some people know the work for the “Ritual Dances” excerpt occasionally played by orchestras, very few American audiences know the opera in its entirety — which is a shame. It’s an incredibly expressive score, full of drama and excitement, as well as tenderness and beauty. Unlike many 20th century works, you can certainly say that most of this music is just fun to listen to. And it’s great to see a reunion of so many singers and players from Opera Boston. It’s an amazingly talented cast, performing some challenging roles. You won’t see something like this again anytime soon.


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