On this week's itinerary are happenings that explore the city's diversity, films about bold art, socials that usher in major performances, avant garde music and an adventure ride that surveys one of Houston's oldest and charming suburbs.
Tip: Click on the link below each event to visit a page with helpful features, like the ability to download the information to your electronic calendar and to familiarize yourself with attractions near your destination, just in case you find yourself in need of a beverage, some sustenance or a place to crash for the night.
Silk Road Festival
One of the perks of being a music student is summer travel. Festivals, master classes and institutes offer the opportunity to visit far off destinations, some of which one wouldn't consider touring just for leisure. It was the summer of 2002 when a chamber music program took me beyond popular destinations in Russia to some of the lesser known cities, among them Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, and Novosibirsk, located in the southwestern edge of Siberia, whose Oblast (province) borders Kazakhstan and looks to Mongolia.
Many of the cities en route were along the Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest train line in the world, linking Russia's Pacific Coast with Moscow through Central Asia. You couldn't imagine the wealth of cultures and ethnicities we experienced, foods we tasted and languages we encountered.
My curiosity for all things Central Asia arises from those odysseys, hence my excitement for the Silk Road Festival, a four-day event that brings the richness of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan,Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to one 52-foot tent — a type of mini Epcot theme park. Dance, crafts, entertainment, music and good eats commingle to evince the colorful folklore of this diverse region.
Houston Grand Opera Opening Nights Young Professionals' "La Vie de Bohème"
Tristan und Isolde, La bohème, Don Giovanni, Il trovatore — that's just a handful of what Houston Grand Opera subscribers will revel in this 2012-13 season. To bid "toi toi toi" to the company, young professional prima donnas Heather Pray and Claire Cormier Thielke have planned a lovely evening of adult beverages, light bites and tunes themed after HGO's opening oeuvre, Puccini's Italian masterpiece.
Attire? Find your best bohemian-inspired duds and walk alongside the characters of Scènes de la vie de bohème — because there's a Rodolfo and a Mimì inside of everyone.
Houston Heights Association Bicycle Rally & Scavenger Hunt
This seventh annual event may not be a race, though that doesn't mean that your competitive spirit won't be showing because the entrants who decipher the most clues will receive prizes — and everyone loves rewards. There's both a 20-mile course (start anytime after 8 a.m.) and a five-mile route (start anytime after 2 p.m.), the latter is better suited for kids and their adult companions.
Once you are finished, gather back at the park for a post ride party and awards ceremony.
Artist on Film screening: Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present
Guilty. Very much so and I freely admit it. I used to dismiss performance art as a venerable genre, perchance because the creatives I was exposed to weren't the least bit convincing, committed or thoughtful. Weird, awkward and uncomfortable are often mistaken as art in this classification.
It's true that to define, qualify and categorize performance art is often challenging, yet there's no question what Yugoslavia-born Marina Abramovic develops is bold and shocking, like when she sat at Museum of Modern Art in New York for 736 hours.
As she prepares for a major show at MoMA in 2019, this film chronicles that journey.
Aperio, Music of the Americas presents "Sonatas & Interludes - A Centennial Performance of John Cage's Masterpiece"
When John Cage was told to stick a fork in it, he took it literally. Whether someone actually said that to him or not, it was an ongoing quip when I first studied the music of this avant garde American tunesmith, because he stuck many things inside the piano, including utensils, for effect.
That 4'33" is his most infamous composition is a shame as there's a huge catalogue of works that will blow your mind, among them Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. Kimi Kawashima performs the complete 20-piece cycle, one that goes beyond the whimsical world of chance with which Cage is so often associated.
Photo editor, fashionista and design doyen Barbara Kuntz's pick: InHouston OutHouse Open House
Barbara says: "We all do it: Share friendly conversation in the kitchen. We may not all have seats, so some of us may have to stand, but that's OK. The kitchen truly is the heart of the home.
"One of Houston's historic row houses in the Third Ward recently received a new 'heart' through a innovative prefab product, the InHouse-OutHouse, and the public is invited to celebrate the renovation. Guests will enjoy refreshments catered by local neighborhood eateries and the project's donors. This prefab unit packages a new full kitchen and full bath into a deliverable, customizable bundle.
In addition, the unit includes new heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing services with sufficient capacity for the entire house.
So come on and join in to toast this open house — in the kitchen. Where else?
Staff writer and totally awesome guy Tyler Rudick's pick: Dinosaur Jr. reunion show at Fitzgerald's
Tyler says: "I'm heading to the Dinosaur Jr. reunion show at Fitzgerald's on Friday. Actually, I suppose it's not entirely a 'reunion' per se — especially considering the band's original lineup set aside their differences in 2005 and went on to make three more albums, including the latest, I Bet on Sky. Judging from recent setlists, Dinosaur is striking a careful blend of solid new material and classics like 'The Lung,' 'Freak Scene' and the band's quintessential cover of The Cure's 'Just Like Heaven.' "
Staff writer and adventurous Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Zine Fest Houston
Whitney says: "Want to know what DIY grassroots art is really all about? Stop by Zine Fest at Super Happy Fun Land this Saturday, where dozens of artists, writers, zinesters and small publishers will be set up to promote their work and interact with other creators. We guarantee you'll be inspired to start your own zine by the end of it."
Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop dance maven Nancy Wozny's pick: The Dance Gallery
Nancy says: "I am heading to Huntsville this weekend, not to visit the prison, but to see the fantastic array of local and visiting dance companies from New York as part of The Dance Gallery, which includes a show at Sam Houston State University and one in New York. Local troupes include NobleMotion Dance and Revolve Dance Company, along with a group of rising New York choreographers and companies. It's a great way to catch up on rising talent here and elsewhere.