Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Feb. 23)

Here’s roundup of promising openings this weekend:

Focus on vocals

Art Song lovers, unite. Maria Briggs, a voice professor, has organized the first Fresno State Art Song Festival, which she’s calling “On Wings of Song.” The festival features a number of master classes and guest instructors. Here are three public highlights:

• On Friday, Feb. 23, Briggs offers a recital (7 p.m., Wahlberg Recital Hall).

• On Saturday, Feb. 24, there will be a student showcase recital and presentation of the “best singer” award (4 p.m., Concert Hall).

• Also on Saturday, guest faculty artist Vladimir Chernov of UCLA will give a recital (6 p.m., Concert Hall).

Briggs says that she started the festival because that while there are several opera programs locally, there is no current platform to showcase and enjoy the Art Song.


“Our students learn and perform art song for their recitals and exams, but they don’t have a chance to work on it with distinguished faculty or to perform it in a well publicized event,” she says. “I am hoping to have the festival every year and perhaps to increase the number of days and the number of guest faculty.”

One particular focus is on presenting Art Song in the Spanish language “as this is another neglected area that especially resonates with our students and community.”

Among the participants is former U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who is leading a poetry workshop.

Briggs gives a sneak peek of her Friday recital:

I will be performing “Spring Waters” by Sergei Rachmaninov, which is a brilliant virtuoso showpiece for piano and voice. The cascading piano part is depicting melting ice and gushing waters, while the voice is sailing on top, announcing the coming of spring. It is a brilliant moto-perpetuo that’s quite a crowd favourite and lots of fun to perform. I am also very excited to sing Wagner’s “Wesendomck Lieder” cycle. Wagner wrote it to poetry of his lover Mathilde Wesendonck, who was the wife of one of his patrons. Wagner was residing with his own wife in the Wesendonck cottage at the time! The story could be an opera plot in itself.

An audience pass for the festival is $15, which gets you into all master classes, lecture, poetry workshop, student showcase competition and faculty concerts.

You can listen to a KVPR interview about the festival here. And you can buy audience passes here or at the door.


‘Swing!’ in Reedley

The River City Theatre Company in Reedley opens the perky musical revue “Swing!,” a tribute to Fats Waller. Tidy Gill directs. Here’s a synopsis:

‘Two thirds rhythm and one third soul.’ That’s how Fats Waller defined the uniquely American form of popular music and dance known as ‘swing.’ Requiring only joyful enthusiasm and a ready partner, swing exploded out of pre-war Harlem’s hotbed of youth culture and swept the world. SWING! celebrates this remarkable diversity to the beat of the most exhilarating songs of the period.

The company performs in the historic Reedley Opera House, one of the most charming and intimate venues in the central San Joaquin Valley.

“Swing!” opens 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, and continues through March 11.

daisies poster

‘Too Soon for Daisies’

The Kings Players in Hanford opens the dark and poignant comedy “Too Soon for Daisies,” which is about “three somewhat eccentric women who have been cast off by society but aren’t ready to be put out to pasture.”

Here’s a bit more on the show in a preview on Kings River Life.

It opens 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, and continues through March 18.

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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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