Summer arts guide: Music

No, the conductor’s breath isn’t bad; this is just how the Boston Choral Ensemble likes to assemble.

Central Conservatory of Music Chorus, Beijing
Friday, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre
45 Quincy St., Cambridge
Free, 781-259-8195
This is a rare chance to see one of China’s finest choral ensembles, singing several Chinese works (some of which reach back into ancient folk traditions) as well a wide-ranging array of Western works, including Rachmaninov, Verdi, Mozart, Khachaturian and even an old American spiritual. Such a diverse display affirms that the human voice will always be the original musical instrument.

Double Bill of Baroque Opera
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Cambridge Family YMCA Theatre 820 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
$15-$20, 508-757-8515
Mass Theatrica presents Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” and Antonio Caldara’s “Il Giuoco del Quadriglio” in a world premiere English translation. Both are given contemporary settings — the latter takes place in the Most Serene Republic of Cambridge, where four housewives exchange gossip over cards — proving once again that while fashions change, scandal is always in style.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
June 28 through June 30
BCA Plaza Theatre
527 Tremont St., Boston
Free, 617-821-8515
OperaHub, a company dedicated to accessible opera in an intimate setting, describes this contemporary a capella musical/opera version of Shakespeare’s supernatu- ral romantic romp as a “genre-defying” lovechild of “Glee” and La Scala. That’s pretty outrageous, but also pretty gutsy. Besides, a play like this, in which reality and fantasy get all jumbled, kind of lends itself to unorthodox experimentation.

June 29, 8 p.m.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
138 Tremont St., Boston
$15-$20, 617-227-2270
The North End Performing Arts Center presents Bizet’s classic opera of seduction and betrayal, which both scandalized and impressed when it debuted in 1975. English titles are included for the nonfrancophone audience members. If you’d prefer to see it outdoors, there’s a second showing at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on July 1 at 2 p.m. It’s free, but a donation is suggested.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra: Boston Sings
July 11, 7 p.m.
Hatch Memorial Shell
47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston
Free, 617-987-2000
Because the Esplanade is a magnet for crowds on July 4, we don’t really have to publicize what the Pops have got going on here, so let’s give a little love to Land-marks Orchestra. Their first concert of the summer focuses on the music of Americana composer Aaron Copland, including such classics as “Appalachian Spring.” It features more than two dozen local choral ensembles.

Bastille Day Party
July 13, 7 p.m.
Marlborough St.
Between Berkeley and Clarendon sts., Boston
$28-$35, 617-876-4275
World Music/CRASHarts teams up with the French Cultural Center to turn the Back Bay into a 2,000-person street party celebrating all things French. French food, beer and wine will be available, too!

Revels Boston Harbor
Cruise and Sing
July 17 and Aug. 15
Mass Bay Lines, Rowes Wharf
$35, 617-972-8300
During these two-hour “sunset cruises,” Revels music director George Emlen and maritime musician David Coffin will lead the crowd through a program of sea shanties and other appropriate tunes. If you get into it enough, you might get a little sense of what seafaring life was like for the salty Bostonians of yore — and with zero risk of scurvy!

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou
July 20, 9 p.m.
Brighton Music Hall
158 Brighton Ave., Allston
$25-$27, 18+, 617-876-4275
This band, formed in Benin in 1968, with influences including Latin music, James Brown and even voodoo rituals (!), contains some of West Africa’s best musicians. Their importance to their post-colonial music scene can’t be overstated. Voodoo or not, these guys’ll make your body move!

Boston Summer Arts Weekend
July 27 through 29
Copley Square
Boylston St. at Dartmouth St., Boston, free
The Boston Globe and WBGH have teamed up to create what we hope will become a summer tradition in Copley Square: three days of free performances ran-ging from folk to soul to jazz to classical. Highlights include Suzanne Vega, Dan Zanes, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, bluegrass wunderkind Sierra Hull, Irma Thomas, The Low Anthem and many, many more.

Aug. 2 and 3
400 Soliders Field Rd., Boston
$35, 617-562-4111
This popular jazz act have been together for three decades, and they’re showing no signs of slacking — their latest, “Timeline,” snagged two Grammy nominations. We suspect part of their staying power lies in their talent for mixing accessibility with artistry, avoiding the extremes of outre experimentation on one end and the dreadful scourge of “easy listening” on the other.

August 4, 8 p.m.
Club Passim
47 Palmer St., Cambridge
$20, 617-492-7679
Vinx is a one-named soul-singing machine who carries only a drum for accompaniment. It’s just him, his voice and the drum. Most artists probably wouldn’t be able to get away with it, but Vinx’s sheer life-affirming charisma and power would make any more instrumentation redundant. You’ll want to sell your guitar after seeing this guy — but don’t. You need it. He doesn’t.

Boston Choral Ensemble
with Manado State University Choir
June 30, 7 p.m.
Boston University Concert Hall
855 Comm Ave., Boston
$15, 978-729-1910
The Boston Choral Ensemble welcomes a choir from Indone-sia with a remarkable gift for fusing Eastern and Western modes into a very unusual sound — at least to American ears. The two groups will perform both apart and together. The program includes works by Moses Hogan, Orlando Gibbons, Andre van der Merwe and Eric Whitacre.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra featuring Boston Lyric Opera
Aug. 8, 7 p.m.
Hatch Memorial Shell
47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston, free,
The Boston Landmarks Orchestra welcomes members of the Boston Lyric Opera to present an evening of operatic works. The program is heavy on the powerhouse trio of Wagner, Puccini and Mozart, but it also includes works from Bizet, Delibes, Sullivan and Bernstein. It’s a pretty good primer on opera: Check it out, you might learn yourself somethin’.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
June 24, 8 p.m.
Brighton Music Hall
158 Brighton Ave., Allston
$20, 617-876-4275
This group is one of many native African bands that fuse the sounds of the African diaspora with those of its motherland. For them, it means a mix of soukous, Afro-beat and traditional West African sounds with reggae, dub and funk. Each of them were once down-and-out occupants of refugee camps, making their accomplishment not just musical but spiritual.

– All listings were written by Metro writer Matthew Dinaro. Listing assistance was provided by, Boston’s premier arts and entertainment online calendar, putting Boston’s arts at your fingertips.


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