Donald’s list: Weekend choices (May 26)

On my list for promising cultural weekend options:

Famous violinist, famous violin

Youth Orchestras of Fresno is known for ending its seasons with a (timpani) bang, and this year is no exception. The concert “Coming Home,” which will be performed Sunday, May 28, at the Saroyan Theatre, features a professional guest artist with a big name in classical music: violinist Vadim Gluzman, the Russian-born pianist known for his many recordings and appearances with the world’s major orchestras.

Vadim GluzmanPhoto: Marco Borggreve

Violin superstar: Vadim Gluzman performs Sunday with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno. Photo / Marco Borggreve

I caught up with Gluzman by phone the day before he got on a plane to Fresno, and we talked about 1) why he’s coming to Fresno to perform with (very talented) students; 2) the famous Tchaikovsky concerto he’ll be playing; and 3) the equally famous violin he’ll be playing it on. You can read more here.

But Gluzman isn’t the only draw of the Sunday concert, which features three orchestras and 300 young musicians. A highlight will be a newly commissioned work titled “Coming Home” inspired by William Saroyan’s novel “The Human Comedy.” Four Fresno State composers — Alexander Bianco, Chris Carreon, Mason Lamb, and Matthew Wheeler, working with music composition professors Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich — reference themes in Saroyan’s novel, in which home is a thinly disguised Fresno.

Boone explains the process:


The multimedia project was a collaboration between music and mass communication/journalism students. They chose a culture other than their own (Armenian, Japanese, Hmong, Hispanic, or African-American), examined their biases and interviewed people representing those cultures. The music students composed a movement for orchestra inspired by the culture, and the MCJ students selected clips from their recorded interviews for an audio montage to be used along with the composition.

The program includes Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.” And the concert will close with “Conga del Fuego Nuevo” by Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. Thomas Loewenheim conducts.

Details: 4 p.m. Sunday, May 28, Saroyan Theatre. The concert is free, but “your much-appreciated $15 or $20 (or any) donation is welcome at the door.”

Fresno Community Concert Band

It wouldn’t be the Memorial Day weekend without music. The band on Sunday offers “Lest We Forget,” a pair of concerts “honoring our fallen heroes, those who fought beside them and those who continue to serve.”

Guest soloist is tenor Brian Lummis, who will sing “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot.”

Also on the program:

… a beautiful arrangement of “Danny Boy” and a work by Canadian composer Jeff Smallman, “And the Birds Will Sing Again.” Other works include “Hymn for the Fallen” by John Williams, “The Light Eternal” by James Swearingen, “Let Freedom Ring” by Ryan Nowlin and the immensely powerful and moving “Arlington” (Where Giants Lie Sleeping) by Paul Murtha.

Details: 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 28, Shaghoian Concert Hall. $12 adults, $7 children 12 and under. Veterans and active military and their families will be admitted free to the 7 p.m. concert only, but tickets are required (call 559-440-9429 or 559-225-0225).

Members of Mariachi Universal group pose with instruments.

Mariachi Universal kicks off ‘Nights in the Plaza’ on Friday, May 26, at Arte Americas. Photo / Mariachi Universal

‘Plaza’ kickoff at Arte

The summer is officially heating up Friday with the first in the “Nights in the Plaza” series at Arte Américas. Performing is the local Mariachi Universal, which calls itself the “Fresno’s Premier Mariachi” ensemble.

Tacos Mazatlan will have food for purchase. Beer, wine, margaritas, sodas and waters will be available, along with shaved ice for the kids.

Details: Doors open at 7 p.m. Friday, May 26, and the show is 8-10. Bring your own lawn chairs for maximum comfort. $12 adults, $10 members, $5 children 10 and under.

Viva Las Wrinkles

I’ve already told you on The Munro Review about the newest incarnation of “New Wrinkles,” the annual senior revue at Fresno City College. (In my feature story posted Thursday morning, I talked to some of the cast members who were married in Las Vegas: You could say that some things that happen there deserve to come home.) The 50 cast members this year will take you on a musical journey from the Rat Pack through Celine Dion. This hard-working company of performers is filled with show-biz talent, and if you’ve never seen their razzle-dazzle, you’re missing a Fresno institution.

Details: Opens Thursday, May 25 and runs through June 11, Fresno City College Theatre. $16.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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