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The manipulator
Peter Byrne, a Canadian-born artist now living in Buffalo, is a painter and then some. He starts out with a "sample" -- a fragment of an image or pattern drawn from all sorts of sources in life and art. From there the artist scans this bit of image into a computer and subjects it to what computers do best -- rampant manipulation. After this digital dicing and splicing, the humble electronic product is translated once again -- this time into old-fashioned oil paint on canvas. The result -- against all logic -- is something big and substantial and something very unlike your average computer art production.

Big Orbit Gallery will present a group of these paintings under the title "Peter Byrne, (sample)" in a show that begins with a reception from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition will continue on view through Nov. 6. Big Orbit is at 30-D Essex St. (883-3209).

-- Richard Huntington
Song of the South
Southern Culture on the Skids turned up at Woodstock '99 this summer as a replacement for Sugar Ray, and fit right in with the zany, raucous Woodstock atmosphere.

The band boasts of playing a "psychobilly" musical style also defined as "Southern trash boogie." Rick Miller, lead singer and guitar player, is the guy who gives Southern Culture on the Skids its edge. He wails away with garage-band bombast, combining Southern-style country and rock with twangy guitars and a redneck sensibility. The rest of the band includes Mary Huff on bass and drummer Dave Hartman.

Miller says the band is "Renaissance rednecks. Things that are quintessentially Southern are always a little bit odd. I grew up with it."

Miller comes from Henderson, N.C., and claims that many of the subjects of his songs, including such topics as bear wrestling and cooking roadkill, are from real-life experiences. Some Southerners don't appreciate such humor. "They think we're mean-spirited," Miller has said. "We have been the brunt of many jokes."

Southern Culture on the Skids performs Sunday at 8 p.m. in Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St.

-- Anthony Violanti

The Russians are coming
Next week will bring to Western New York two performances by the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, conducted, amazingly, by the American-born Constantine Orbelian. The touring Russian ensemble will first present an 8 p.m. concert next Friday in Wesley Chapel at Houghton College, followed by a 7 p.m. concert Oct. 3 on the Mainstage in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, North Campus.

Orbelian, born in San Francisco to Russian-Armenian parents, was made music director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in 1991, the first American ever to hold such a post in Russia. He has been so successful that he was recently named successor to the legendary conductor Evgeny Svetlanov as artistic director of the Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra. The program for the Houghton concert has not been announced, but presumably it will be similar to the program scheduled for the UB concert, which will feature performances of Alfred Schnittke's Piano Concerto, with Orbelian as soloist and conductor, and Tchaikovsky's lush Serenade for Strings. Other works on the program include the Bizet-Waxman "Fantasy on Themes from 'Carmen' " plus transcriptions of pieces from operas by Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka and Dargomizhsky.

-- Herman Trotter

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