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In the age of AIDS

Tony Kushner is that rare contemporary playwright who can seriously address large political and moral issues without losing his characters -- and his audience -- in the process. His widely acclaimed plays contain no mouthpieces, no patronizing preachers. His seven-hour, two-part "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes" begins with painfully real and often comic characters whose lives are affected by the AIDS crisis and ends with these same characters grappling with some of the most urgent philosophical questions of our time. The masterfulness of "Angels" was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, the New York Critics Circle Awards and a host of other honors. Also highly praised were Kushner's adaptations of such plays as Brecht's "The Good Person of Setzuan" and Ansky's "Dybbuk." His current play is "Henry Box Brown or the Mirror of Slavery."

Tuesday evening -- Day without Art/World AIDS Day -- at 7 in Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College, Kushner will give a reading and be part of a discussion on theater in the age of AIDS. He will be joined by two noted Buffalo artists, Lorna C. Hill and Ron Ehmke. Actor and director Hill is artistic director of Ujima Theater. Ehmke, who has known Kushner since childhood, is a performance artist and writer. The program is co-sponsored by Just Buffalo, Rockwell Center for the Performing Arts, AIDS Community Services and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. It is part of Hallwalls' Ways in Being Gay festival. For tickets, call the Rockwell Hall box office at 878-3005.

-- Richard Huntington
Building blocks
A program spanning the ages has been planned by Harold Rosenbaum, new choral director at the University at Buffalo, for his first performance conducting the select UB Choir at 8 p.m. Thursday in Slee Hall on the North Campus. Founder of New York City's Canticum Novum Singers and New York Virtuoso Singers, Rosenbaum comes to UB with a strong reputation as a chorus builder. Featured on Thursday's program will be Bach's Cantata No. 78, "Jesu, der du meine Seele" (Jesus, Who Delivered My Soul), the beautiful "Ave Maria by Josquin Des Prez," Bartok's "Four Slovak Folk Songs" plus works by Haydn and William Dawson.

-- Herman Trotter

Getting a Handel
Announcements received to date indicate that Handel aficionados will have a choice of three and a fraction performances of the perennial masterpiece "Messiah" from which to choose this Holiday season. First up is the 35th annual presentation by St. Paul's Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, with the NYS Baroque Orchestra conducted by Dale Adelmann at 4 p.m. Sunday. Soloists will be countertenor David Scarozza, tenor Jeffrey Porter, baritone Daniel Ihasz, while the soprano solos will be sung by the trebles of the choir. The fractional performance is by the Community Advent Chorale at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 in Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, Main and Center streets, East Aurora, when Cheryl Delventhal will conduct extensive excerpts from "Messiah" on the second half of a concert that includes other seasonal choral music. Then on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. another substantially complete "Messiah" (it is almost never done in its entirety) will be performed by the Parkside Lutheran Church Choir and the Ars Nova Musicians Chamber Orchestra conducted by Marylouise Nanna. Soloists will include Jill Raisen Buerk, Laura Munson, Cristen Gregory, Margaret Kuhl, Edson Gifford III, Clifford Chapman and Frank Martinez. Your final shot at "Messiah" comes with the Dec. 19 and 20 performances in Kleinhans Music Hall by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Richard Westerfield, concerning which more details will be published in Gusto on Dec. 18.

-- Herman Trotter
For giving
"Artful Gifts IV," Art Dialogue Gallery's annual holiday art fest and sale, this year has an incredible 380-plus works by at least 80 area artists. With so many artists it seems almost unmannerly, not to mention unjust, to list only a few. But nevertheless here are those few -- selected by randomly dropping 10 paper clips on the page: Russell Ram, Marge Rosteing, Alma Slotkin, Mary Weig, Edward G. Bisone, David Derner, Joan Hambleton, Anita Johnson, Gerald Mead and Patricia Obletz. The variety will be immense. Go to look, go to buy. You can't miss. And besides, the prices are moderate. The exhibition begins today at the gallery, located at One Linwood Ave. An open house and reception will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 4. The show runs through Dec. 30.

-- Richard Huntington

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