5 picks for July ArtHop

A salute to “Papa Mike” McGarvin of Poverello House tops the list

July’s ArtHop — the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods — might be a little slower in the heat of the summer, but there are still lots of options. ArtHop is 5-8 p.m. (at most locations) on Thursday, July 5.  The Fresno Arts Council has a full list of venues and shows. Here are five exhibitions that I think sound promising:

mcgarvin arthop

Jeffrey Scott Agency

Mike McGarvin, affectionately known as “Papa Mike” of Poverello House fame, took many photographs of the homeless. You can see 20 of his most powerful images in a show titled “View to the Soul” along with works from other distinguished photographers.

Papa Mike took photos because he didn’t want people forgotten, says Jeff Negrete of Poverello House. “He wanted those who didn’t understand the trauma of poverty to see that the poor are not faceless.”

Here’s how Papa Mike said it: “I hope my pictures have put a face on their desperation and captured their humanity. I hope that these pictures say, we are poor, but not too different than you. We love, we hurt, we bleed.”

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (April 27)

Whether it’s cutting-edge chamber music or the classic play “The Crucible,” there are lots of options for the weekend. I’ve already filled you in on Good Company’s “The Heiress,” Jeremy Denk performing with Keyboard Concerts and the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra in separate concerts, and the Fresno Community Chorus spring celebration of Leonard Bernstein. Here are even more choices:

‘The Crucible’

Don’t you love the poster for the new College of the Sequoias production? (Kudos to the designer.)

crucible poster

“The Crucible,” of course, is Arthur Miller’s 1953 classic play about the Salem witchcraft trials, but it can also be read as a searing allegory about McCarthyism or more generally mass hysteria in times of political unrest. The new production is set in a post-World War II small town that “feels eerily close to our own.”

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (April 13)

Highlights for this busy weekend include “Guys and Dolls” (a collaboration between Fresno Pacific University and the Selma Arts Center), a concert for all proud band geeks, the not-to-miss StageWorks Fresno cabaret, and the tantalizingly titled play “Nana’s Naughty Knickers.”

‘Guys and Dolls’

You know her as a powerhouse actress who last gave us a walloping Hedda Gabler. Now Brooke Aiello, an adjunct theater professor at Fresno Pacific University, is making her directorial debut with “Guys and Dolls.”

A scene from rehearsal in “Guys and Dolls.” Photo by Karen Vargas / Fresno Pacific University

For the first time, the university is collaborating with the Selma Arts Center for a one-weekend run of a musical. The production includes students, community members and a special guest artist: professional actor Chris Carsten. (He just happened to play opposite Aiello in last summer’s New Ensemble production of “Hedda Gabler”). He will play a cameo as Arvide Abernathy, who sings the touching song “More I Cannot Wish You.”

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (April 6)

You can win a pair of tickets to hear the Alexander String Quartet, which performs Sunday. Also: The Fresno Master Chorale salutes Bernstein

I have two promising picks for you this weekend, both music-related: the Alexander String Quartet; and a cheery sounding cabaret performance put on by members of the Fresno Master Chorale.

Famed quartet

On my monthly talk show, “The Munro Review,” I got a chance to interview David Fox of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series and Jack Fortner of Orpheus chamber ensemble. Those two august institutions are partnering to present a performance by the world-class Alexander String Quartet at Fresno State.

alex string quartet

You can catch up with the interview on the clip below, starting at about the 4:40 mark and going through to about the 12:00 mark. Fox (who calls himself an ASQ “groupie”) tells us a little background about the quartet, and also fills us in on Keyboard Concerts (which later this month is bringing noted pianist Jeremy Denk to Fresno, on April 27). And Fortner fills us in on Orpheus, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season. (Along with the ASQ special event, Orpheus is planning a big concert on April 29.)

Details: 3 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at the Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets are $25 general, $18 seniors, $5 students.

Win tickets: I’m giving away a pair of tickets to Sunday’s concert to a lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us why you’d like to hear the Alexander String Quartet. Deadline to enter is 10 a.m. Saturday. I’ll pick a winner at random.

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Donald’s list: Weekend choices (March 23)

At the top of my list for promising events this weekend are two prominent arts offerings — and one so-cute-it-barks dog event, just for the heck of it: The Orpheus chamber ensemble offers “Four Centuries of Beautiful Music” in a Friday night concert at Fresno State. The annual Danzantes Unidos Festival’s Showcase Concert Series features more than 40 Mexican folk dance groups from across the U.S. with a variety of weekend events.

And don’t forget a celebration of puppies on Friday at Bitwise.

Here’s a roundup:


orpheus logo

In just 90 minutes, you’ll be able to travel through the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. “Four Centuries of Beautiful Music” features the talents of pianist Christoper Guerrerio, flutist Teresa Beaman, violinists John Morrice and Cynthia Stuart, cellist Nancy Skei and accordionist Daniel Cantrell.

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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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