This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Another superstar lineup is set for the annual Rainforest Fund benefit at Carnegie Hall

Another superstar lineup is set for the biannual Rainforest Fund benefit at Carnegie Hall

Who: Chris Botti, Vittorio Grigolo, Darlene Love, Idina Menzel, Ronnie Spector, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, James Taylor, more
What: Biannual benefit for the Rainforest Fund
Where: Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall,
When: Wednesday, December 14, $150 - $600, 7:00
Why: Founded in 1989 by Trudie Styler and Sting, the Rainforest Fund “supports programs that cover a range of issues from protection of civil and political rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, to the promotion and defense of their social, economic and cultural rights, including the protection of rights to their land and against the destructiveness of resource exploitation.” Every other year the man also known as Gordon Sumner leads a rousing benefit at Carnegie Hall to raise money and awareness for the organization, which must be cheering the recent news about the potential move of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The stellar lineup for the December 14 show, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”: The Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund, features jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, legendary vocalists Darlene Love and Ronnie Spector, Broadway superstar Idina Menzel, bestselling author Bruce Springsteen, singer-songwriter James Taylor, and Sting, in addition to surprise guests. Previous shows, which used to be known as Rock for the Rainforest, have included performances by Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Stephen Stills, Dionne Warwick, Billy Joel, Renée Fleming, Elton John, Natalie Cole, George Michael, Gladys Knight, Tom Jones, Macy Gray, Ravi Shankar, Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Wonder, mixing multiple genres and resulting in fab finales with everyone onstage joining in on classic tunes.


Marilyn Minter,  Blue Poles, enamel on metal, 2007 (private collection, Switzerland)

Marilyn Minter, “Blue Poles,” enamel on metal, 2007 (private collection, Switzerland)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, December 3, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum honors World AIDS Day with its free First Saturday programming on December 3. There will be live performances by MC and producer SCIENZE, the Brooklyn Ballet (The Brooklyn Nutcracker), and DJ Sabine Blaizin; a curator tour of “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” led by assistant curator Carmen Hermo; a Community Resource Fair focusing on political advocacy; a hands-on sketching workshop with live clothed models; pop-art talks of “Infinite Blue” led by teen museum apprentices; a Day With(out) Art / Visual AIDS screening of the video compilation Compulsive Practice, followed by a discussion with Juanita Mohammed of the Women’s AIDS Video Enterprise, feminist writer and Brooklyn College film department chair Alexandra Juhasz, and HIV and gay civil rights activist Justin B. Terry-Smith; and a screening of David Kornfield’s The Red Umbrella Diaries, followed by a talkback with documentary subjects Dale Corvino and Essence. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” “Beverly Buchanan — Ruins and Rituals,” “The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago,” “Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas,” “Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” and “Infinite Blue”; admission to “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present” requires a discounted admission fee of $10.


John Zorn returns to the Guggenheim for special program inspired by Agnes Martin

John Zorn returns to the Guggenheim for special program inspired by Agnes Martin

Who: John Zorn
What: Music for Agnes Martin
Where: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave. at 89th St., 212-423-3587
When: Thursday, December 1, and Friday, December 2, 7:00
Why: In 1995, avant-garde legend John Zorn released Redbird, a pair of compositions inspired by Canadian-American abstract painter Agnes Martin. The album consisted of the nine-minute “Dark River” and the forty-one-minute title opus, featuring harp, cello, and percussion. On December 1 and 2, Zorn, who last month played and discussed his “Commedia dell’arte” suite as part of the Guggenheim’s “Works & Process” series, will perform in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum rotunda in conjunction with the current exhibition, “Agnes Martin,” which continues through January 11. The evening comprises four Zorn compositions: “Dark River,” with William Winant and Ches Smith on bass drums; 1977’s “Curling” (yes, based on the Olympic sport), performed by Dither (guitarists James Moore, Gyan Riley, Taylor Levine, and Josh Lopez); and the premiere of two new Martin-inspired works, “Praise,” with Carol Emanuel on harp, Ikue Mori on electronics, and Winant and Zorn on vibraphone and percussion, and “Blue Stratagem, performed by the American Brass Quintet (Kevin Cobb and Louis Hanzlik on trumpet, Eric Reed on horn, Michael Powell on trombone, and John Rojak on bass trombone). Advance tickets are sold out, but standby tickets will be available starting at 6:50 each night; after the performance, attendees are invited to view the exhibition.


Wordless Music Orchestra will perform new score to Terence Malicks THE TREE OF LIFE at BAM

Wordless Music Orchestra will perform new score to Terence Malick’s THE TREE OF LIFE at BAM

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick, 2005)
BAMcinématek, Howard Gilman Opera House
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
November 18-19, $35-$85, 7:30

Iconoclastic writer-director Terrence Malick had made only five feature films in his forty-plus-year career when The Tree of Life came out in 2011, and it might very well be his best. And now you can see it like never before, as the BAM Next Wave Festival presents it in the Howard Gilman Opera House with a live score performed by more than one hundred singers and musicians from New York City’s Wordless Music Orchestra playing works by Mahler, Berlioz, Brahms, Górecki, Mozart, Tavener, Smetana, Couperin, and others, conducted by Ryan McAdams and featuring Robert Fleitz on piano and sopranos Charles Love and Jennifer Zetlan. Following Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), and The New World (2005), The Tree of Life is an epic masterpiece of massive proportions, a stirring visual journey into the beginning of the universe, the end of the world, and beyond. The unconventional nonlinear narrative essentially tells the story of a middle-class Texas family having a difficult time coming to grips with the death of one of their sons in the military. Malick cuts between long flashbacks of Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) in the 1950s and 1960s, as they meet, marry, and raise their three boys, to the present, when Jack (Sean Penn), their eldest, now a successful architect, is still searching for answers. The sets by production designer Jack Fisk transport viewers from midcentury suburbia to the modern-day big city and a heavenly beach, all gorgeously shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Every frame is so beautiful, it’s as if they filmed the movie only at sunrise and sunset, the Golden Hour, when the light is at its most pure. The Tree of Life is about God and not God, about faith and belief, about evolution and creationism, about religion and the scientific world. The film opens with a quote from the Book of Job: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation . . . while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Early on, Mrs. O’Brien says in voice-over, “The nuns taught us there are two ways through life: The way of nature, and the way of grace. You have to choose which one to follow.” Malick leaves those questions open, displaying the miracles of life and death and everything in between as perhaps the only response.

Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, and Brad Pitt star in Terrence Malick’s epic masterpiece, THE TREE OF LIFE

With the help of Douglas Trumbull, the special effects legend behind 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind — and who hadn’t been involved in a Hollywood film in some thirty years — Malick travels through time and space, using almost no CGI. Instead, he employs images from the Hubble telescope along with Thomas Wilfred’s flickering “Opus 161” art installation, which evokes a kind of eternal flame that appears in between the film’s various sections. Malick rolls the Big Bang, dinosaurs, and the planets into this inner and outer head trip of a movie that will leave you breathless with anticipation at where he is going to take you next — and where he goes is never where expected, originally accompanied by Alexandre Desplat’s ethereal orchestral score, which has been completely replaced for these screenings. But perhaps more than anything else, The Tree of Life, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for three Oscars (for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography), is about the act of creation, from the creation of the universe and the world to the miracle of procreation (and the creation of cinema itself). Mr. O’Brien is an inventor who continually seeks out patents but always wanted to be a musician; he plays the organ in church, but his dream of creating his own symphony has long been dashed. And Jack is an architect, a man who creates and builds large structures but is unable to get his own life in order. In creating The Tree of Life, Malick has torn down convention, coming up with something fresh and new, something that combines powerful human emotions with visual wizardry, a multimedia poem about life and death, the alpha and the omega. And now you can hear it in a different way as well as this special performance makes its U.S. premiere at BAM’s grand opera house.


Five NEA Jazz Masters will join forces for an all-star show at Flushing Town Hall

Five NEA Jazz Masters will join forces for all-star show at Flushing Town Hall

Who: Jimmy Heath, Barry Harris, Jimmy Owens, George Coleman, Jimmy Cobb, David Wong
What: Historic all-star jazz concert
Where: Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., 718-463-7700 x222
When: Friday, November 18, $20-$42 (standing room $20), 8:00
Why: Since 1982, more than 150 musicians have been named Jazz Masters by the National Endowment for the Arts, honoring “living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.” On November 18, five such living legends will perform together at Flushing Town Hall: saxophonists Jimmy Heath (inducted 2003) and George Coleman (2015), pianist Barry Harris (1989), trumpeter Jimmy Owens (2012), and drummer Jimmy Cobb (2009), joined by bassist David Wong. It’s quite a lineup, and although all the seats are sold out, standing room tickets are still available, at a mere twenty bucks, to catch this very special show.


Charles and Ray Eames’s POWERS OF TEN is part of Cinema 16 presentation at Mono X Festival, featuring live score by members of Blonde Redhead

Charles and Ray Eames’s POWERS OF TEN is part of Cinema 16 presentation at Mono X Festival, featuring live score by members of Blonde Redhead

99 Scott Studios
Saturday, November 12, free with advance RSVP, 7:00

After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, Molly Surno and Cinema 16 are back, taking part in the Mono X Festival, Mono No Aware’s tenth annual Cinema Arts Festival. Continuing the tradition of staging happenings built around experimental films, started by Amos and Marcia Vogel in 1947, Surno pairs avant-garde works with live music. On November 12, C16 will inaugurate the new 99 Scott space in Brooklyn with twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace of Blonde Redhead playing a commissioned score to Norman McLaren’s 1952 A Phantasy of Color, Jordan Belson’s 1972 Chakra, Malcom Le Grice’s 1970 Berlin Horse, Sarah Petty’s 1981 Furies, Charles and Ray Eames’s 1977 Powers of Ten, Naomi Uman’s 1999 Removed, Adam Beckett’s 1974 Flesh Flows, and Scott Bartlett’s 1968 OffOn. Started in November 2007, Mono No Aware “is a cinema-arts nonprofit organization working to promote connectivity through the cinematic experience and preserve the technologies of traditional motion picture filmmaking, [seeking] to build the first nonprofit motion picture lab in the United States.” The Mono X Festival continues through December 3 with such other programs as “Expanded Cinema from the UK” at the Firehouse, “A New York 8mm Minute: Reduce to Cognition” at Spectacle, “Never – Still” at the CAVE home of LEIMAY, and “Mono Made, 2009-2016” at BRIC.



Who: Tony Bennett, Scott Simon
What: Author event
When: Monday, November 14, free, 7:00
Where: Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East Seventeenth St. at Union Square North, 212-253-0810
Why: Anthony Dominick Benedetto from Astoria, better known as Tony Bennett, may have turned ninety in August, but according to the title of his latest book, he’s Just Getting Started (HarperCollins, November 15, $27.99). In this follow-up to 2012’s Life Is a Gift, the ever-positive painter and crooner pays tribute to a wide range of people who have had an impact on him, including Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Cole Porter, Amy Winehouse, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lady Gaga, and Charlie Chaplin. On November 14, Bennett will be at the Union Square Barnes & Noble, in conversation with his cowriter, NPR host Scott Simon, author of such memoirs as Home and Away and Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime and the novel Pretty Birds. Wristbands will be given out beginning at 9:00 am for the 7:00 pm event, for those who purchase the book at that store; Mr. Benedetto will not be personalizing books, posing for photos, or signing any memorabilia. But just to be in the same room as that voice and smile. . . .