Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes

Staff Writer
Link Boston Homes

Chamber music

The Chameleon Arts Ensemble will perform the final concert in the season, “From the painter’s hand” at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 21 at the First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough St.

The ensemble will perform Francis Poulenc’s “Le Travail du Peintre” for soprano and piano;” Laura Schwendinger’s “Artist’s Muse” for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion; Maurice Ravel’s “Sonata for Violin and Cello;” Morton Feldman’s “For Franz Kline” for soprano, violin, cello, horn, chimes and piano and Robert Schumann’s “Piano Quintet in E-flat Major.”

Call 617-427-8200 or visit to purchase tickets and for more details.

Mansion tour

A public one-hour tour of the Ayer Mansion, 395 Commonwealth Ave., which showcases the striking interior and exterior embellishments designed and created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, will be offered at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20.

Reservations are required and a $10 donation is requested to help with the ongoing restoration costs.

To make a reservation, send an email to or call 617-536-2586.

Foundations of liberalism

The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., will welcome Brad Snyder, author of “The House of Truth: A Washington Political Salon and the Foundations of American Liberalism” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22.

Snyder, University of Wisconsin, Madison, will talk about the group of ambitious young men including Felix Frankfurter and Walter Lippmann, who threw informal dinner parties at a house owned by Robert G. Valentine that became the city’s foremost political salon. Snyder drew on the Valentine family papers at MHS to weave together the stories of these fascinating and sometimes contradictory figures, and looks at how ideas shifted from progressivism into what is today referred to as liberalism.

Admission is free for members and $10 for non-members. There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 p.m.

Registration is required, by calling 617-646-0578 or online at

Music of Wagner

The Boston Wagner Society will perform in concert from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23 at the Old South Church, 645 Boylston St.

The society will present “Songs Past and Present” with Joanna Porackova, mezzo-soprano; Matthew Larson and Jeffrey Brody, piano; Helen Sherrah-Davies, violin; and Kari Juusela, cello.

Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for members and $10 for students.

For more information, call 617-323-6088 or visit

Tiffany jewels

The Ayer Mansion, 395 Commonwealth Ave., will welcome guest speaker Elyse Zorn Karlin examining “Tiffany Jewels: Jewelry of the Early 20th century” at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23.

Karlin is the co-director of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts in Maryland.

The mansion showcases the striking interior and exterior embellishments designed and created by Tiffany.

Tickets are $35 per lecture. A wine and cheese reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. with the talk at 7 p.m.

To make a reservation, send an email to or call 617-536-2586.

Back Bay tour

The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay and will host a walking tour of the Back Bay neighborhood at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24.

Visitors will experience Back Bay’s “miracle of preservation.” The Back Bay is one of the largest neighborhoods of preserved Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture in the United States.

This tour is held as part of Boston Preservation Month activities.

Registration is requested for this free tour, online at

Black and white photography

The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St., will present “Mapping the Genome of Black and White Photography” with Paul Messier at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24. This program is presented in partnership with the Ticknor Society.

A reception will be held at 6 p.m. with the talk from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Messier, now head of the Lens Media Lab at Yale University, will talk about his historic photographic papers he collected with the aim of providing a baseline to date and authenticate photographic prints. Nearly 20 years and 5,000 samples later, this is possibly the largest collection of its kind in the world. He will discuss his work, the diversity and language of the medium and how meaning and measurements can be drawn from it.

Registration is required for this free program, by calling 888-296-3447 or online at

Based on the Bard

Company One will perform “Peerless” written by Jiehae Park and directed by Steven Bogart, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 25 and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 27.

Twin high school seniors are dead-set on attending an Ivy League school. With their perfect scores, perfect hair and perfect minority status they think acceptance is a given. But when a rival student emerges, the twins will do anything to knock out the competition, including murder. This dark and zany comedy sets “Macbeth” against the backdrop of competitive college admissions.

The play is part of “All The City’s a Stage: A Season of Shakespeare at the Boston Public Library,” commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

All tickets are Pay-What-You-Want. No minimum contribution is required to attend, though a $10 ticket donation goes to Company One and directly contributes to the future of financially accessible theater in Boston. To reserve a ticket, visit

Art of the garden

The French Cultural Center, 53 Marlborough St., is displaying “Les Gardiens du Jardin” by Mary Beth McAllister, now to July 5.

The works are gouache and ink, and are a collection of drawings relating to all things French, gourmand and garden.

American artist and designer McAllister was influenced by a magical childhood garden, which became a muse for the worlds she creates in her paintings, sculptures and designer show houses. Her work has been exhibited in numerous art exhibits on the East Coast and is in many private collections.

The exhibition is free, but reservations are recommended. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information and to make a reservation, call 617-912-0400 or visit

Victorian Back Bay

Boston By Foot is offering 90-minute guided, walking tours of the Back Bay at 2 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. on Sundays, now to October. Walkers will meet the guide on the steps of Trinity Church at Copley Square.

Visitors will discover how the Back Bay, once a body of water, was filled in and how the neighborhood was developed in the mid-19th century to become one of the nation’s richest collections of art and architecture. The treasures of the Back Bay tour include Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, Old South Church and the grand Back Bay townhouses.

Tickets are $13 adults, $8 children ages 6 to 12 and free for members if purchased in advance or an additional $2 if purchased from the guide.

For more information, visit or call 617-237-2345.

Art exhibit

The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St., is hosting the annual Members’ Juried Exhibition now to May 27 in the President’s Gallery.

Admission to the exhibition is free. Visit or call 617-536-7660 for more details.

Organ concerts

Trinity Church, 206 Clarendon St., will present organ concerts featuring innovative programs by recitalists from across the nation and abroad at 12:15 p.m. on Fridays until June 9.

Performers will include Nicholas Bideler, Jacques Boucher, Sophie de Courval and Julie Vidrick Evans. There is no charge for admission, but donations are welcome.

Call 617-536-0944 or visit for more information.

Library tours

Boston Public Library volunteers will give art and architecture tours of the McKim Building, a National Historic Landmark, in its main building, constructed in 1895, throughout the week.

Highlights include the murals of John Singer Sargent, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Edwin Austin Abbey and the work of architect Charles Follen McKim.

Self-guided tours are available as well, and literature describing the architectural highlights is available on the web at

For tours by appointment, call 617-536-5400, ext. 2216.