Donald’s list: Weekend choices (March 16)

You can win tickets to Sunday’s Fresno Philharmonic concert. Plus: “Bullets Over Broadway” opens in Visalia, and Ethan Bortnick performs live at the Tower Theatre

I have three promising weekend picks for you. They are the Fresno Philharmonic’s “Virtuoso Orchestra” concert (to which you can win a pair of tickets; for details, see below); the Central Valley premiere of the musical “Bullets Over Broadway” at Visalia’s College of the Sequoias; and a special performance by PBS star Ethan Bortnick with a select group of singers from the Bach Children’s Chorale. Read on:

Fresno Philharmonic

stephanie phil
Fresno Philharmonic concertmaster Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio

Most of the time, a different stellar guest artist joins the Fresno Philharmonic at each concert for a solo performance. But for its next concert (3 p.m. Sunday, March 18), the orchestra is turning to one of its great talents within: concertmaster Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio.

“The Virtuoso Orchestra” will showcase Sant’Ambrogio performing Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” and Foss’ “Three American Pieces.” The program also includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 (“The Hen”) and Ginastera’s “Variaciones concertantes.”

In 2016 I did an interview with Sant’Ambrogio (here’s a link to the Fresno Bee story), who has been concertmaster in Fresno since 2010, and after talking with her, I came away even more impressed. After graduating from Indiana University and the Eastman School of Music, she landed a spot in the famed Cleveland Orchestra at age 24, then went on to become reigning concertmaster at the San Antonio Symphony for 13 years.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (March 2)

Options include the chamber group Moment Musical, the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra, a memorial concert for Fresno State’s Brad Hufft, an artists reception at Arte Americas, and the final performance of ‘Sherlock Holmes’

Arts picks for a busy cultural weekend:

Moment Musical

The chamber group Moment Musical presents its latest “Sunday Serenade” concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 50 E. Santa Ana Ave., Fresno.


The program includes Paul Wranitzky’s Sextet No. 3 in E flat major written for flute, oboe, violin, two violas and cello.

Also on the program: Antonin Dvorak’s Terzetto in C major (for two violins and viola); and Camille Saint-Saens’ Fantasie in A major (for violin and harp).

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

Options include an art song festival at Fresno State; and new theater productions in Reedley and Hanford

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.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Feb. 9)

Picks include Fresno State and Fresno City College choirs, a scrappy version of “King Lear” and a chance to see the Oscar-nominated short films at Fresno Filmworks

Some promising options for a busy weekend:

‘Walk in Peace’

This sounds like a beautiful event: The choirs of Fresno State and Fresno City College collaborate on the concert “Walk in Peace,” which celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King and Black History Month. Fresno State’s Cari Earnhart and Fresno City’s Julie Dana conduct. Guest artists include Mike Dana, Richard Giddens and members of the Fresno State Jazz Ensemble.

walk in peace

If you’re a fan of choral music, this is a chance to hear two strong collegiate music programs for the price of one!

Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $5.

‘King Lear’

Just three performances of the Shakespeare classic remain in Theatre Ventoux’s run. This taut adaptation, directed by Broderic Beard and starring Greg Taber in the title role, runs just 105 minutes including intermission.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Jan. 19)

Options include annual Fresno State faculty concert, a special recital at Fresno Pacific, and a “Super” event by the Fresno Community Concert Band

Classical music lovers, this weekend is for you:

Faculty concert

How big is this year’s Fresno State faculty concert? There are so many performers they can come together as a symphony orchestra. Faculty members participating (in alphabetical order) are Rachel Aldrich, Teresa Beaman, Michael Chang, Andrew Quiring, Matthew Darling, Larry Gardner, Richard Giddens Jr., Thomas Hiebert, Ed Hull, Thomas Loewenheim, Aaron Marcus Luna, Nathan Sobieralski, Limor Toren-Immerman, and Andreas Werz. They’ll be joined by selected students.


The concert will include Dvorak’s Carnival Overture, the Sextet from Mozart’s opera “Cosi fan tutte” featuring our voice faculty and two of their top students. The orchestra will close the concert with Gliere’s “The Red Poppy Suite.”

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Jan. 5)

As January’s cultural scene slowly begins to ramp up, here are two weekend picks for you:

Keyboard Concerts

If you’ve never heard a professional organist play the Elizabeth V. Lyles Pipe Organ in the Fresno State Concert Hall, you owe yourself the experience. (Fun fact: The impressive instrument was built by the Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company in St. Louis and installed in 1996.)

Kimberly Marshall, organist
Acclaimed organist Kimberly Marshall performs Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Fresno State Concert Hall. Photo / Keyboard Concerts

You’ll get that opportunity when Kimberly Marshall, who has an illustrious performance and academic background (at one point she was dean of postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music), returns to the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series on Sunday, Jan. 7.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Dec. 15)

Weekend options include GCP holiday cheer, Playhouse Merced, an exciting look at Latinx Theatre at Arte Americas, “A Bob Hope Christmas” and “Another Night Before Christmas” at Sierra Repertory Theatre

Five picks for the weekend:

Good Company cheer

You couldn’t ask for more talented Christmas entertainers. A group of veterans from Good Company Players will perform favorite songs Saturday at Sequoia Brewing Co. in the Tower District. Join Teddy Maldonado, Shawn Williams, Tim Smith, Emily Pessano, Sara Price and Paddy Myers for a lineup of Yuletide vocals.

From left, Paddy Myers, Teddy Maldonado, Shawn Williams, Tim Smith, Emily Pessano and Sara Price.

By the way, I love the above photo. Emily and Paddy look like they’re naughty, Tim and Sara are being so nice, Teddy looks ecstatic that it’s December, and Shawn has a smile as big and white as the North Pole. The whole tableaux just seems warm and jolly.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Dec. 8)

The Youth Orchestras of Fresno goes all out in its annual holiday concert, including dancers

I’ve already told you about two of this weekend’s big events: the Central California Ballet’s “Nutcracker” at the Saroyan Theatre, which runs for three performances; and Soli Deo Gloria’s Christmas concert at University Presbyterian Church on Friday evening. Here are other promising options:

Youth Orchestras of Fresno

All three ensembles of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno — more than 250 musicians in all — offer a holiday concert that includes works by Sibelius, Stamitz, Dvorak, and Gounod.

The Youth Orchestras of Fresno perform in a Memorial Day weekend concert. Photo / The Munro Review

A highlight of the program: Dancers from Shirley Winters Ballet will complement the advanced Youth Philharmonic’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite:

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