From local composers to Just Jag, here are weekend picks for July 27

So many things you could do this weekend, so little time. Here’s a curated list of options:

Spotlight on local composers

How’s this for a great song title? Luffy Bailey’s “Cup O’ Food” derives its text from a list of ingredients found in a cup of instant ramen. You’ll find that original piece and a lot more in the 2nd annual “Composers Showcase” featuring choral music by Fresno composers and musicians. The concert is 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at the First Congregational Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Ave. Tickets are $10 general, available at the door.

“Composers Showcase” is organized by E.J. Hinojosa. (You can read my interview with him from last year previewing the 1st annual concert.) This year the chorus is made of 30 singers from the community, he tells me. Many of them sing with the Fresno Master Chorale and many have returned from last years “Showcase.” Nearly all of the composers will sing or play in the course of the evening. None other than Anna Hamre conducts.

Bailey also contributes “Big Fam, Small Van,” which Hinojosa describes as “mostly aleatoric, requiring the chorus to repeat phrases from casual conversations on pre-determined pitches.”

Other highlights:

• The concert will open with Evelyn Shu’s “Psalm 133”, which takes many cues from West African styles of singing and hand drumming.



• “Prayer for Peace” is a new 10-minute long piece by Larry Warkentin, setting to music a poem of the same title written by his grandfather 100 years ago. The poem was written in 1918 at the conclusion of the World War I, and it embodies a signature Anabaptist mark of pacifist theology. “Prayer for Peace” will feature a piano part written for four hands. Kevin Memley, accompanist for the concert, will play the “Primo,” and Warkentin will play the “Secundo.”

• Joungmin Sur, longtime collaborative pianist for the Master Chorale and oft-performed local composer, provides four works, including a gorgeous setting of “Arirang,” Hinojosa says, a well-loved folk song of her native Korea. The melody and text are roughly 600 years old, and long predate the political division of the Korean Peninsula.

• And, of course, the ramen song, complete with lyrics that include “thiamine mononitrate” and “riboflavin.” Not all choral music is in Latin, after all.

Theater reminders

StageWorks Fresno always schedules its popular cabaret after the second-weekend Friday night performance. That’s tonight — Friday, July 27 — for “Urinetown.” Tickets are $10.

little women hanford

“Little Women” in Hanford

• In Hanford, the Kings Players opens Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Louella Moreland directs. The show runs Fridays-Sundays through Aug. 19. Read my Hanford “Theater road trip” piece from last year here.

• In a weekend chock full of theater, don’t forget this is your last chance to see the ambitious “Memphis: The Musical” in a Reedley River City Theatre production at the Reedley Opera House. Here’s my preview and review.

• It’s hard to even think about Christmas trees when it’s 107 degrees outside, but the “Nutcracker” is always on the horizon. The Central California Ballet will hold auditions for the December production on Saturday, Aug. 25. Advanced dancers can also win a spot in the Lively Arts Foundation production of “Best of the West” Nov. 4 at the Saroyan Theatre. Auditions will be held at various times at the Fresno State Music Building. Go to the Lively Arts website for details.

Summer ration of Jaguar

Jaguar Bennett Performing Start Your Own Religious Cult at 2017 Rogue Festival

It can be hard in March to get to all the Rogue Festival performances you want to see. Now here’s a summer second chance. Jaguar Bennett will reprise his one-man show “Start Your Own Religious Cult for Fun and Profit,” which premiered at the 2017 Rogue Festival,” for a one-time only performance at the Vista Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28. He describes the show as “a seminar for aspiring entrepreneurs in the growth industry of the 21st century — religion. Yes, you could be making big bucks by starting your own religious cult today, with no prior experience, no capital outlay, and no training!”

Josh Tehee of the Fresno Bee called the show “hilarious, groan-inducing fun.”

Bennett will return to the Vista Theatre with another Rogue reprise, “Mansplaining,” on Saturday, Aug. 11.

In a thoroughly startling example of third-person press-release honesty, the reason for the performances is divulged: “Bennett claims that these shows are fundraisers to pay for his travel and drinking expenses for a trip to Portland, Oregon, to perform ‘Mansplaining’ at the Clinton Street Theater.” He is then quoted as saying: “A vigorous and vital independent theater depends on vast quantities of alcohol and the generous expenditures of audience members to pay for that alcohol.”

So there you are. It’s your duty to go. And take away his keys after.

Tickets are $10 in advance online; $12 at the door.

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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