Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Aug. 11)

Weekend options include metal-meets-mariachi at Arte Americas and a new musical arts series at Bitwise Industries

I’ve already told you about two of this weekend’s big theater events (“Hedda Gabler” and “R&J”). Here are a few more promising (and, for this blog, a little off-the-beaten path) cultural picks for the weekend.

Metalachi performs at Vinyl nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, NV
Different kind of mariachi: METALACHI performs Saturday at Arte Américas.

Mariachi meets metal

This concert has such an interesting premise that I can’t resist: METALACHI is the first heavy-metal mariachi band in the world. (I’m not sure if it’s the only heavy-metal mariachi band in the world — that would be a pretty small group, right?) And it’s returning to Arte Américas for a concert on Saturday, Aug. 12, in the outdoor Plaza Paz.

The ensemble uses traditional mariachi instruments to re-interpret songs by Metallica, Guns N Roses, Led Zepplin, Bon Jovi, and more. Add in painted faces, over-the-top costumes, raunchy humor, and raucous theatrics, and this isn’t exactly your grandfather’s mariachi concert.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Aug. 4)

Options include California Opera’s free production of “Cinderella.” Plus: “Hairspray” in Visalia; and “I Love You” in Oakhurst

Here’s a rundown on three promising arts picks for the weekend:

California Opera

California Opera Association’s annual arts and education festival ends with a fully staged production Friday evening and Sunday afternoon of “La Cenerentola (Cinderella),” an operatic version of the beloved fairy tale, at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis. Under the artistic direction of Fresno’s own diva, Edna Garabedian, the festival brings together opera students, advanced singers and professional faculty in a month-long program. “Cinderella” is the festival’s big finale. And because it’s free (donations gladly accepted), it’s a great way to expose children to opera as an art form.

Gabriel and Alix
Fairy tale: Gabriel Manro and Alix Jerinic in the California Opera production of “La Cenerentola.” Photo / Owen Gailar

The production is stage directed by Richard Adamson, and the orchestra is conducted by Brian Asher Alhadeff, artistic director of Opera San Luis Obispo. Here’s the principal cast:

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 28)

Options include Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, the second weekend of California Opera’s summer festival and “Eurydice” at the Fourth Wall Theatre in Visalia.

Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:

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Refreshing: San Luis Obispo’s Festival Mozaic continues for a second weekend through Sunday, July 30. Photo / Festival Mozaic

Festival Mozaic

Where was I last weekend? Not in boiling Fresno. A quick trip over to the cooler Central Coast for a first-time visit to San Luis Obispo County’s Festival Mozaic has turned me into a hardcore fan.

I already walked you through the nuts-and-bolts of the festival in advance of last week’s opening. And next week, I’ll share some detailed reflections on the three concerts I attended last weekend, including an unforgettable musical moment on the top of a Shandon hillside as the sun set.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (July 20)

Cambridge choir makes a stop at Fresno’s St. James Cathedral. Plus: It’s the kickoff of California Opera’s summer festival, “Angels in America” hits the big screen, and Inner Ear poetry does its thing at Bitwise.

There are two Thursday evening events this week I want to make sure you know about, so I’m offering this version of “Donald’s List” a little early. Here’s a rundown on promising cultural events for the weekend:

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California tour: The Selwyn College Cambridge choir performs Thursday, July 20, in Fresno.

Cambridge choir

If you love choral music, you don’t want to miss the Thursday performance of the Selwyn College Cambridge choir visiting from England on a West Coast tour. The ensemble sings a concert titled “One Equal Light: A Celebration of European Choral Music” at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Fresno.

Sarah MacDonald conducts the choir, which is made up 29 singers (16 female and 13 male), who are undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Cambridge. She is the first woman to hold the post of director of music in an Oxbridge Chapel. MacDonald is a longtime friend of Fresno State opera professor Anthony Radford — they were both in the Ontario Youth Choir when he was 20 — and when she knew she was coming on tour to California, she wanted to visit Fresno.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (June 23)

It’s opening weekend for the Blossom Trail Players. Plus: a new show in Oakhurst, star gazing near North Fork, cabaret night at “35MM” and the kickoff of Summer Arts.

On my list for promising cultural weekend options:

‘Bye Bye Birdie’

Put on a happy face and experience the season opening production of Sanger’s Blossom Trail Players. The Broadway classic “Bye Bye Birdie,” which spins a thinly veiled tale of an Elvis Presley-type character drafted into the military, includes such well-known songs as “Honestly Sincere,” “The Telephone Hour,” “How Lovely to be a Woman” and, of course, the iconic title tune.

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All shook up: Greg Guerra makes the girls swoon as Conrad in the Blossom Trail Players production. Photos / Madlyn Esquer

The show opens Thursday, June 22, and runs through July 1.

There are more than 40 in the cast and an orchestra of 20 — let’s hear a cheer for live musical accompaniment! — in this production directed by Brittany Zenz and choreographed by Shannon Pelletier. (Andrew Esquer is music director.)

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (June 2)

Moment Musical closes its season, Hanford’s Kings Players go for the kill, Visalia hosts an American Sign Language production of ‘Oz,’ and don’t forget KFCF’s fundraiser

On my list for promising cultural weekend options:

Moment Musical

This top-notch Fresno chamber music group calls its concerts “Sunday Serenades,” and the description is fitting. There’s nothing quite like closing out a weekend with an afternoon spent in a contemplative (and cool) space listening to master musicians play great works.

Photograph of five musicians.
Quintet: Members of Moment Musical will perform Prokofiev’s Quintet in G minor. Photo / Moment Musical

Moment Musical presents its fourth and final concert of the season Sunday, June 4, with a program highlighted by a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s intriguing Quintet in G minor for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola and double bass. The piece, performed in six movements, is closely related to Prokofiev’s ballet “Trapèze.”

Also on the program: three very different duos by the Baroque composer Frederic Duvernoy (harp and horn), Beethoven (cello and piano), and early 20th century composer Theodor Findeisen (violin and double bass).

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (May 26)

Youth Orchestras of Fresno offers season-ending extravaganza, the Fresno Community Concert Band celebrates Memorial Day, ‘Nights at the Plaza’ kicks off at Arte, and don’t forget ‘New Wrinkles’

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.”

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