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Arts beat: Beethoven, Grisham and a modern-day exorcism

Before the joy of his Ninth, before the iconic da-da-da-dum of his Fifth, Beethoven wrote his Symphony No. 3. Though less famous than those later works, the powerful and intricate composition piece rewrote what 19th century Europe thought a symphony could be. Two hundred years later, it maintains its power and will be moving audiences at Kleinhans Music Hall in two performances this weekend by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, at 8 p.m. May 11 and 2:30 p.m. May 12.

The great composer originally dedicated the music to Napoleon Bonaparte, who began his rise as a champion of French freedom, but when Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804, Beethoven scrubbed his name from the music and instead called it "Eroica" – "Heroic." The name could refer to Beethoven himself, who was in his early 30s at the time and coming to terms with the realization that he was losing his hearing.

The music covers a wide emotional landscape. Audience members who arrive an hour before the concert will have a chance to hear more about it from the artists in "Musically Speaking," with conductor JoAnn Falletta. Cellist Asier Polo is the orchestra's guest for a program that also includes Fall's "Ritual Fire Dance" from El Amor Brujo and Rodrigo's Concierto in modo gallant. Tickets are $29 to $85, available through bpo.org.

Grisham is served at Desiderio's

Before his blockbuster thrillers "The Firm" and "The Pelican Brief," and all that followed, John Grisham cut his teeth on a tale of small-town justice, "A Time to Kill." That first novel, which finally gained attention after Grisham's subsequent books became best-sellers, has found another life on stage, in an adaptation by playwright Rupert Holmes. (Yes - he's also "The Pina Colada" song guy.) The tense courtroom drama is ideally suited for venues like Desiderio Dinner Theatre at Bobby J's,  where it premieres May 9 and runs through June 30.

More than a dozen performers will present the controversial story of a black father who is charged with capital murder after seeking his own justice against two white men who attacked his daughter. Director Jay Desiderio is director and your host for the evening. He recommends arriving for dinner at 6 p.m. for the 7 o'clock shows and at 1 p.m. Sundays for the 2:30 matinees. Tickets for dinner and show are $50 to $60, depending on your choice of entree. The theater is adjacent to Bobby J's American Grille (204 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga). Call 395-3207.

Intriguing exhibit at Hallwalls

Who could resist hearing from an artist whose sculptures are described as "death sites" and "love notes," pieces that "have metastasized like a science experiment gone awry?" They sound like a perfect counterpoint for another artist who compares her minimalist, self-deprecating creations to "tourists in a new place, interacting with qualities of curiosity, clumsiness and misplaced confidence." Intriguing works by both sculptors – Ashley Smith and Stephanie Rohlfs – will be exhibited at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (341 Delaware Ave.) beginning May 10, when there also will be a free opening reception and artist talk at 8 p.m. The exhibitions continue through June 28. It is closed Sunday and Monday, open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Friday hours extended to see Wilson exhibit

The celebratory exhibition "Humble and Human," honoring the artistic interests of the late philanthropist and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., is in its final weeks at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). The gallery is extending its Friday hours to 8 p.m. on May 10, 17 and 24, giving visitors a chance to see more than 40 works by Impressionist artists from the collections of the Albright and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Those used to seeing a neutral palette in the North Galleries of the Albright will find that the walls have been painted in deep jewel-tones that compliment the colors of Monet, Cezanne, Winslow Homer, van Gogh, Morisot and others.

New at Jewish Repertory Theatre

Romance gets a little metaphysical over at Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York for its production of "Looking Through Glass," a modern adaptation of the Russian play "The Dybbuk," about a lost spirit that settles in the body of the woman who was forced to reject him to marry another man. It turns out exorcism is a practice that spans religious boundaries on this disrupted wedding day. The play runs Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 2 in the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre (2640 North Forest Road, Getzville). Tickets are $38 with discounts for students, seniors and groups, at jewishrepertorytheatre.com.

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