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Before she spent time in a studio with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein, singer-songwriter Tift Merritt took a certain amount of pride in being a self-taught folk musician who couldn’t read music. Dinnerstein, meanwhile, was a Bach specialist who was afraid to improvise. But both women came out of that studio with an unexpected respect—for each other’s art—and an album. Their original reason to collaborate was a one-weekend concert in early 2011, sponsored by Duke University. Two years later, the pair continues to tour together, and last month, they released Night, a wide-ranging album that has Merritt singing operatic laments and Dinnerstein playing variations on Leonard Cohen. In addition to rearranging Purcell and Schubert, they commissioned pieces from artists like Brad Mehldau and Patty Griffin, who contributed the title track. Last May, Dinnerstein and Merritt played through the song cycle at the Museum of Women in the Arts’ tiny auditorium, but this time they’re at the Hamilton, a more suitable venue for cross-genre music, where patrons can sip coffee or a glass of wine. Or both.
Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein perform at 7:30 p.m. at the Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $22.50–$25.50. (202) 787-1000. thehamiltondc.com.