Arts Briefs: Four Sundays program returns to Northampton, UMass alumna wins major opera competition, and more

Published: 03-08-2023 6:38 PM

Four Sundays (and a few Saturdays and weekdays)

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton Arts Council’s “Four Sundays” program, which has gone through a bit of an evolution in the last few years, is back again in yet another format.

The original program, “Four Sundays in February,” was moved to April last year and expanded to include additional events. This year, Four Sundays runs in March and April (it officially began last weekend, with the Arts Council joining Signature Sounds this year to present the Back Porch Festival), with seven events all told.

The Silver Chord Bowl, a longtime staple (39 years) of Four Sundays, takes place this Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m. at the Academy of Music. The a cappella singing competition will pit a number of collegiate groups against each other; it also includes The Northamptones, Northampton High School’s a cappella singers.

Four Sundays continues March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Academy with a screening of the 1919 silent film “South — Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition,” generally considered the world’s first documentary film, with live music accompaniment by the Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra.

The film chronicles the famous 1914-1916 voyage led by Shackleton to explore Antarctica, only to see the Endurance, a mixed steam power/sailing ship, get trapped in ice floes, forcing the crew to escape and make camp on a barren island before making an 800-mile journey in open boats to safety. The movie was filmed by crew member Frank Hurley.

The live music accompaniment will be provided by three musicians on a combination of instruments including drums, bass, electric violin and guitar, clarinet and more.

Other Four Sundays events in March and April include the Power of Truths Festival, a kids’ movie festival, and a fundraising concert for NHS music students. More details are at


UMass alumna wins opera award

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AMHERST — Natalie Lewis, a 2021 graduate in vocal studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, won first place in the Houston Grand Opera’s “Concert of Arias” competition in February, earning a $10,000 prize and besting over 900 original applicants for the contest.

The competition takes place annually to identify candidates for the Houston Opera’s young artist training program.

According to the UMass Department of Music & Dance, Lewis, one of eight finalists in the contest, also won the Online Viewers’ Choice Award, chosen by people watching a livestream of the Houston competition via Facebook and YouTube.

At UMass, Lewis was part of the school’s Chamber Choir, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and UMass Opera. As a senior, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend The Juilliard School in New York.

She will make her Carnegie Hall debut in April, singing the alto solos in Marianna Martines’ “Dixit Dominus” and Bela Bartok’s “Three Village Scenes” with the Cecilia Chorus of New York.


Art for the planet

AMHERST — Hope & Feathers Framing and Gallery this month is hosting “The Way of Gaia,” a collection of paintings by Martin Bridge that speaks to humanity’s relationship to the planet through the lenses of ecology, evolution and the environment.

Bridge’s paintings are from the book “The Way of Gaia,” which includes prose by Steve Trombulak, a professor emeritus of biology and environmental studies at Middlebury College in Vermont.

According to publicity notes, Bridge is a western Massachusetts artist whose work “celebrates the sacredness inherent in nature ... he hopes to inspire and cultivate a greater sense of mystery and possibility in our experience of the world.”

The exhibit runs through March 31.