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Arts briefs: Author Shannon Takaoka, Anat Cohen with Marcello Goncalves, a darkly comic double bill at The Pear and more

Author Shannon Takaoka shares her new young adult book “The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne,” at a Books Inc. Palo Alto on Nov. 19. Courtesy Laura Reoch.

This week, Bay Area author Shannon Takaoka shares her new novel, jazz clarinetist Anat Cohen teams with Brazilian guitarist Marcello Goncalves in a Palo Alto show, The Pear opens two dark comedies running in repertory. Plus, the Bay Choral Guild sings masterful masses, the film 'Coco' gets live accompaniment from a mariachi orchestra and Con Brio brings funk and soul to The Guild.

Shannon Takaoka

Bay Area author Shannon Takaoka presentes her new YA novel, “The Totally True Story of Gracie Byrne,” at a Books Inc. Palo Alto event this month, in conversation with friend and fellow local author Deborah Crossland (“The Quiet Part Out Loud”). Takaoka’s latest book, set in the 1980s, follows an awkward teen who finds she can shape reality by writing about it in a magical journal, and was called “moving and emotionally satisfying” by Publisher’s Weekly. Takaoka is also the author of the 2021 YA novel “Everything I Thought I Knew.”

Nov. 19, 3 p.m., Books Inc. Palo Alto, Town and Country Village, 855 El Camino Real, #74, Palo Alto.

‘District Merchants’ and ‘William Shakespeare's Land of the Dead’

The Pear Theatre presents, if you’ll forgive the pun, a pair of sharply comedic shows running in repertory, both offering fresh twists on Shakespeare. “District Merchants, an Uneasy Comedy” written by Aaron Posner, reworks “The Merchant of Venice,” setting it “among the Black and Jewish populations of an imagined time and place that is simultaneously Shakespearean, Reconstruction-era Washington, D.C., and today,” according to the Pear. “William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead,” by John Heimbuch, features the Bard himself as a character, defending his new play “Henry V” while a vile plague is sweeping through London and the theater finds itself under quarantine. And yes, there are zombies. Both shows are directed by Pear head Sinjin Jones and are rated PG-13.

“William Shakespeare’s The Land of the Dead” runs Nov. 17-Dec. 9. “District Merchants” runs Nov. 18-Dec. 10. The Pear Theatre; 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View, $38-40.

Majestic Masses

For the sheer scale of their sound, masses are impressive compositions, but there's nothing that says such a work also has to be ponderously long — or even exist in completed form, for that matter — to be a masterpiece. Bay Choral Guild, a 35-voice community choir, performs two masses from the Classical era that are brisk in length, and bright in sound. The choir's "Majestic Masses" program on Nov. 18 features Franz Schubert’s spirit-lifting Mass No. 2, which is not only (relatively) short and sweet but it's said that it took Schubert only about a week to compose. The piece is joined on the program by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's lush Mass in C minor, K. 427, which is considered one of his greatest works, according to the choral guild's website, even given the fact that some movements are missing. The choir performs Helmut Eder's reconstruction of the mass.

Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. $10-$30. The choir performs the same program Dec. 17 in Campbell.

'Coco' in Concert

What better way to enjoy a movie with a song at its heart than to watch it with its score played live? Stanford Live hosts a screening of Disney Pixar's "Coco," accompanied by a mariachi orchestra. The animated film takes inspiration from the Dìa de los Muertos holiday in the tale of 12-year-old Miguel, musically inclined in a family that has mysteriously banned music from the household, who due to a misunderstanding, finds himself in the Land of the Dead. Among the spirits of loved ones, he uncovers a family mystery.

Nov. 19, 7 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. Tickets start at $55.

Con Brio

Energetic, seven-piece Bay Area soul-and-funk group Con Brio (the name comes from the musical direction meaning “with spirit”), known for their lively performances, headlines at the Guild, following the October release of their fourth album, “Scream At It.” Santa Cruz-raised roots rocker Anthony Arya – a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2018 as a teen – will open the show with his band. His own forthcoming fourth album is due out in early 2024.

Nov. 22, The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 8 p.m., $33-$73.

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