Mr. Smalls Hosts The New Pornographers; Angel-Voiced Jackie Evancho Performs at Heinz Hall (CPs 2/13/15)

February Music Preview: Great acts in town include The New Pornographers. (Photo: Simon Law)

The New Pornographers. (Photo: Simon Law)

1) The New Pornographers are one of the great indie rock bands that emerged in the early ‘00s. This is the kind of band your favorite substitute teacher listened to. The kind of band your wannabe hipster friend wouldn’t shut up about at the lunch table. The title of their newest album, 2014’s Brill Bruisers, connotes many images, among them The Brill Building in New York, where songwriters churned out some of the greatest hits of the ’60s. It’s not a stretch, really. The New Pornographers’ albums or solo albums by one of their members ranked in the top 40 of The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop year-end poll from 2000 to 2007. The Canadian group brings its harmonies and hooks to Mr. Smalls tonight. Operators open. 9 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

2) Who knew there was a world-class voice talent living in the Pine-Richland area north of Pittsburgh? Well, evidently, Jackie Evancho knew! She started out by entering talent contests including St. Barnabas’ Kean Idol, singing at various events, and even landed the coveted spot of singing the national anthem at a Pirates game. Acting was also in Evancho’s early repertoire, she performed in Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s version of High School Musical in 2007. She cut an independent album Prelude to a Dream, and what a prelude to a dream it was. Evancho posted videos of her performances to YouTube. She was turned down twice in auditions for “America’s Got Talent.” The third time was indeed the charm. The ladder to mega-stardom presented itself in 2010 after the nation heard her incredible classical song performances on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” She came in second. Since then she has recorded five albums all of which achieved success on the music charts and is the youngest artist every to achieve platinum sales status. Evancho;s latest album is Awakening.

Her work has included numerous singing appearances, acting roles including playing Robert Redford’s daughter in the 2013 film The Company You Keep, and some modeling. She is active in many charitable organizations and was named one of the Ten Best-Mannered People in 2011 by a national organization. Needless to say Kanye West didn’t make that list. What a great opportunity to see a hometown gal done good. She will be appearing with the recently Grammy Award-nominated Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 8 p.m. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District.

3) One reason great stories are “timeless” is that they can be told many different ways. Beauty and the Beast began as an adult fantasy tale written in France in the 1700s. Over the years, this story of a monster redeemed by love has been re-done numerous times in books, plays, and films, with treatments that vary widely. (Compare Jean Cocteau’s eerie 1946 film to the Disney movie.) The story’s dramatic dance of emotions also has made it a natural subject for ballets, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater presents a stunning but seldom-seen modern rendition. Lew Christensen’s Beauty and the Beastchoreographed to selections from Tchaikovsky—was a longtime audience favorite at San Francisco Ballet, then fell out of the repertoire in the 1980s. PBT’s revival is its Pittsburgh premiere. 8 p.m. Continues through Feb. 15. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.


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Rick Handler

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