Sound suggestions: Boston-area fall museum concerts

Boston, MA 061014 Members of the Callithumpian Consort and director Stephen Drury (cq), middle, rehearsed at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Tuesday, June10 2014. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff) section: Lifestyle slug: 13classno reporter: David Weininger
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff
Callithumpian Consort.

Alongside their more visible and celebrated visual-arts offerings, museums now serve an essential role in presenting groundbreaking musical events, including some designed to harmonize with what’s hanging on walls nearby. Here’s a short list of the fall’s must-hear musical offerings at museums in Boston and the surrounding area.

Callithumpian Consort Pianist-conductor Stephen Drury and his intrepid new-music cadre (above) offer two very different events this season. On Nov. 2, they perform the first of four weekly renditions of “songbirdsongs” by John Luther Adams, inviting audience members to come and go as they please. A Nov. 5 “Stir” program includes modern pieces by Xenakis, Ligeti, and Steve Reich, and a premiere by David Fulmer. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Nov. 2, 2:30 p.m., free with museum admission (repeats Nov. 9, 16, 23); Nov. 5, 7 p.m.; $15, seniors $12, students $5, members and children free. 617-278-5156,

Performing Artists in Residence Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park continue to compose thoughtful mixes of standard and offbeat chamber-music fare for their ongoing Clark residency; here, violinist Jesse Mills and violist Ara Gregorian join them in pieces by Haydn, Martinu, Turina, and Dvorak. Clark Art Institute, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. $25, members $20. 413-458-2303,


John Zorn: “Simulacrum” The ever-provocative composer John Zorn oversees a concert devoted to one of his newest concepts, mixing minimalism, metal, and more in genre-agnostic, through-composed music for organ trio, performed by organist John Medeski, guitarist Matt Hollenberg, and drummer Kenny Grohowski. Institute of Contemporary Art, Nov. 13,
8 p.m. $25, members and students $15. 617-478-3100, www.ica

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Ensemble Intercontemporain In conjunction with the ICA’s current Black Mountain College exhibition, this eminent French modern-music ensemble offers “John Cage and Pierre Boulez: Correspondence,” a program based on letters exchanged between these maverick composers, excerpts from which will be read among performances of their works. Institute of Contemporary Art, Nov. 15, 8 p.m. $25, members and students $15. 617-478-3100,

Stephin Merritt The busy, heady troubadour behind Magnetic Fields and a slew of other eloquent art-pop projects, Merritt comes to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art for an intimate, stripped-down affair in which he’ll be partnered only by his Magnetic Fields bandmate, cellist Sam Davol. Mass MoCA, Nov. 21, 8 p.m. $35, advance $29, preferred seating $44. 413-662-2111,

Beth Morrison Projects Opening a new three-event series in conjunction with the Gardner Museum’s “Stir” program, indie-opera impresario Beth Morrison (left) presents Sarah Kirkland Snider’s moody, gripping song cycle “Penelope,” performed by singer Carla Kihlstedt and chamber ensemble Firebird. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. $15, seniors $12, students $5, members and children free. 617-278-5156,

Vellumsound The Museum of Fine Arts’ new resident chamber-music ensemble offers its second concert, “Social Distinctions: Patrons and Partnerships,” a program meant to explore relationships between artists and the benefactors who supported and funded their work, including pieces by Purcell, Mozart, and Bartók. MFA, Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $25, members $20. 617-267-9300,


San Fermin + Sam Amidon The music of San Fermin, the band led by Brooklynite composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, has been dubbed “chamber-pop” — a designation that suits its intricate, colorful instrumentation but sells short the band’s breezy verve and timeless hooks. Banjoist and roots-music alchemist Sam Amidon, a Mass MoCA favorite, raises the curtain. Mass MoCA, Dec. 5, 8 p.m. $18, advance $12, preferred seating $24. 413-662-2111,

Borromeo String Quartet Ready for a serious afternoon of music? Join the Borromeos as they make their way through one of the core oeuvres of the 20th century: all six string quartets by Bartók. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Dec. 20, 1:30 p.m. $27, seniors $24, members $17, students and children $12. 617-278-5156,


Steve Smith can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nightafternight.