’Tis the season to celebrate the start of the winter holidays, the end of the academic semester and Emily Dickinson’s birthday! To that end, the Choral Society Vespers perform a festival of lessons and carols, Theater and Dance students present original performances they’ve created this semester, and the Emily Dickinson Museum celebrates the poet’s 187th birthday with special tours and activities, and Emily’s famous coconut cake. Plus, Music at Amherst presents its final concert of 2017, The Common hosts its annual online Author Postcard Auction and the Mead hosts a closing reception for its fall exhibitions.

Keep reading to learn more about these and additional events, this month at Amherst.

Concerts & Performances

Choral Society Vespers Choral Society Vespers perform Dec. 3. Photo by David Le.

Amherst’s talented student musicians take the stage not once, not twice, but five times this month. On Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m., student chamber musicians perform the music of Claude Debussy at the Mead Art Museum, in conjunction with the exhibition From the Picturesque to the Modern Vision: Landscape Painting in Europe Across the Centuries. On Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall, Joshua Ferrer ’18E presents a cello honors thesis anchored by two monumental works written from places of darkness: Bach’s Suite No. 5 in C minor and Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano. The Choral Society Vespers present a festival of lessons and carols on Sunday, Dec. 3, first at 4 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. in Johnson Chapel. The Amherst College Jazz Ensemble presents its Winter Concert on Friday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall. Finally, the Amherst Symphony Orchestra performs works by the early iconoclast Charles Ives as well as the modern minimalist master John Adams on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., also in Buckley Recital Hall.

Performance Project Students perform original works Dec. 8 and Dec. 9.

Five College students and the Amherst College Dance Ensemble present new works in performance on Friday Dec. 8 and Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in Holden Experimental Theater. The event begins with Performance Project, featuring new works created in Professor Wendy Woodson’s Performance Studio course in collaboration with Lighting Design and Costume Design. The Lens, choreographed by the Dance Ensemble and Visiting Artist Danté Brown, follows. The performances are free, but ticket reservations are recommended. Call the box office to reserve tickets: 413-542-2277.

The final Music at Amherst series concert of the year takes place Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. with the award-winning vocal ensemble The Tallis Scholars. Free student rush tickets will be available 1 hour before the performance in the Arms Music Center lobby. General admission tickets are sold out; call the Concert Office to be put on the wait list: 413-542-2195. The previous day, on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 4 p.m., The Tallis Scholars’ director Peter Phillips teaches a masterclass with Amherst student musicians that is free and open to the public. Both the concert and masterclass take place in Buckley Recital Hall.

Gallery Talks and Exhibitions

Visitor looking at artwork, a self-portrait by photographer Cindy Sherman Tell It Like It Is—Or Could Be remains on view at the Mead through Dec. 31. Photo by Takudzwa Tapfuma ’17.

On Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 12 noon, spend your lunch break at the Mead Art Museum with Alla Rosenfeld, curator of Russian and European art, to learn about the history of European landscape painting and the works on view in From the Picturesque to the Modern Vision: Landscape Painting in Europe Across the Centuries, on view through Dec. 31.

On Thursday, Dec. 14 at 4 p.m., join Mead Director & Chief Curator David E. Little for a gallery talk and closing reception for Tell It Like It Is—Or Could Be, on view through Dec. 31. The exhibit features large-scale color photography that seeks to tell stories about the past and the present that often have been elided from historical imagery. 

Additional exhibitions on view at the Mead through the end of the month include:

  • Rotherwas Project 3: Saya Woolfalk: Life Products and the ChimaCloud, featuring video, sculpture and multimedia works by New York-based contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk
  • Home Away from Home: Russian Artists Abroad, featuring works by artists who left the Soviet Union or its pre-Bolshevik predecessor, the Russian Empire, in search of personal or artistic freedom
  • Perspectives on Michael Mazur, showcasing paintings and prints by of one of the most distinguished artists to have graduated from Amherst College
  • The American Collection: Two Centuries of Art at Amherst College, representing more than two centuries of American art and artistry
  • Picturing American Identity, featuring black and white photography selected by interns Shreeansh Agrawal ’20E, Jane Bragdon ’20, Claire Cho ’20, Crystal Ganatra ’19 and Nekhoe Hogan ’19

Literary Events

EDM Birthday celebration The Emily Dickinson Museum celebrates the poet’s 187th birthday on Dec. 9.

As part of the monthly Amherst Arts Night Plus held in and around downtown Amherst, enjoy a pop-up art exhibit and watercolor demonstration by artist Robert Masla, open mic poetry, and a reading by poet Will Dowd on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 5–8 p.m. at the Emily Dickinson Museum. Then on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1–4 p.m., celebrate Emily Dickinson’s 187th birthday with a festive open house at the Emily Dickinson Museum and coconut cake made from the poet’s own recipe.

The Common hosts its annual online Author Postcard Auction now through Dec. 10. Bid online for a chance to win a postcard from your favorite author (George Saunders, Junot Díaz and Zadie Smith, to name a few), handwritten for you or a person of your choice.

For Students

Black Box studio class
FAMS hosts a discussion for students interested in film and television careers on Dec. 4. 

Students interested in film and television careers are invited to a Film & Media Studies roundtable discussion on Monday, Dec. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in Johnson Chapel, room 202. Participants will learn about finding internships and ways to jumpstart careers after graduating.

Finally, students are invited to take advantage of the Mead Art Museum’s comfy chairs, ample outlets and inspiring setting during finals week. Snacks, activities and extra tables will be provided Dec. 19 through Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight.


Student saxophone players

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Amherst’s Arts Calendar features the latest information about these and additional arts & museum events on campus.

Kirby Theater exterior

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