Folk music in Amherst, a new director at a key UMass


Folk veteran and organizer playing church gig for climate

AMHERST — Folksinger and songwriter Paul Kaplan, a longtime host of the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society’s Song & Story Swap, will mark 25 years of involvement with the event Sept. 2 when he plays as the featured performer.

This month’s Song & Story Swap begins at 7 p.m. at First Church and will be built round the theme of “climate.”

Kaplan, who lives in Amherst, has been part of the folk music world since the late 1960s, when many of his early songs were published in the protest song magazine “Broadside.” In the 1970s, he also produced three posthumous albums by noted folk/protest singer Phil Ochs.

A number of other artists have recorded Kaplan’s songs over the years, and in the 1980s his environmental songs landed him a spot in the Hudson River Sloop Singers with Pete Seeger. He’s the recipient of 11 ASCAP songwriting awards and will be touring in Denmark, Germany and England this fall.

Attendees of the Sept. 2 show are invited to contribute a song or story on the topic of “climate” during an opening round before Kaplan’s performance. Admission is free, with a suggested minimum donation via virtual tip jar to the artist of $7.50.

More information is available at pvfs.us.

New season, new director at UMCA

AMHERST — The University Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is opening the 2023-2024 year with a new director and three fresh exhibits.

Amanda Herman, who’s served as education curator at UMCA since 2018, has been appointed the museum’s interim director. She takes over for the former director, Loretta Yarlow, who retired earlier this summer after nearly 18 years heading UMCA.

Herman, who moved to the area from San Francisco in 2012, has previously taught photography, art and social practice in the Five Colleges system in addition to working on a number of art projects with organizations and public school in Springfield, Holyoke and Easthampton.

As UMCA’s education curator, Herman has expanded the range of programs, from teaching graduate students to curate their own exhibitions to having undergraduates serve as museum educators at the gallery. She also plans public programs and collaborations with faculty across disciplines, from the College of Nursing to Department of Art History.

A UMCA, she’s overseeing three new exhibits opening Sept. 22: “Strangeness,” a large-scale video installation by Raida Adon that explores themes of displacement; “Artists, Born Elsewhere,” works from UMCA’s permanent collection by artists who immigrated to the U.S.; and works by Westhampton artist Susan Yard.

An opening reception for all three exhibits takes place at the museum Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer

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