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Your weekly guide to Houston: Naughty opera, modern homes and happy vegetables

Your weekly guide to Houston: Naughty opera, modern homes and happy vegetables

A perky-butt naked-man quilt. A missing celebrity. And early music that rocks. Houston happenings are full of surprises.

This is what I was up to this past week. 

What I thought was going to be a genteel assignment turned into a thoroughly interesting look at three controversial art quilters exhibiting at the Houston 2010 International Quilt Festival. Stitched, a film produced and directed by Houstonians Nancy Sarnoff, Jenalia Moreno and Thomas Gandy, explored a world known to 21 million quilters in America, though generally ignored by the rest of the population. Missed the screening? The DVD is for sale.

Rock of Ages presented by Theater Under the Stars opened without lead Constantine Maroulis, season four American Idol contestant. He was sick. But he is better now. Rock of Ages is not your typical jazz hands musical. Expect loud music, a concert-like atmosphere and a reminder of why big hair and headbands should make a comeback. 

Quartus Chamber Players is a one-year-old string ensemble, already making waves and pulling a near-capacity crowd in its season finale concert on Friday. They are full of energy and vitality, tackling two significant works in the repertoire — Shostakovich String Quartet No. 13 and Brahms Viola Quintet in G Major — with relative ease.

As we approach summer, I wanted to highlight happenings that will help you and your family stay fresh and fabulous.

Summer Family Programs Kick-Off Performance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Parents, take note. If you are feeling desperate, searching for fun yet meaningful activities to do with your children, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — Rienzi and Bayou Bend included — have a myriad of summer programs designed to keep young ones creatively engaged. Kids may enjoy hands-on arts and crafts, story time and perhaps a great flick.

The series kicks off with an interactive music performance showcasing local favorite string ensemble, Two Star Symphony. The musicians will bring Andy Warhol to life with a program inspired by his Self-Portrait in the museum's permanent collection, located in the Audrey Jones Beck Building, Gallery 214. Thursday at 2 p.m.

Divergence Vocal Theater presents Evening Star: Beauty Bringer, Songs of Possibility at the Rothko Chapel

Following Divergence Vocal Theater's Divergence Music & Arts opening musicale may seem like an impossible task. Coupling the company's collaborative artists with the intimate and contemplative ambiance at Rothko Chapel may just be a way to do so. 

Soprano and DVT's artistic director Misha Penton has achieved what many have difficulty doing: She has trademarked a signature aesthetic in partnership with the participating artists. Inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell and William Blake, baritone Michael Walsh and sopranos Alison Greene and Natasha Manley will premiere new works, including a composition by Dominick DiOrio. Friday at 7 p.m.

TEDx Houston 2011 at the University of Houston Wortham Theatre

Have ideas worth spreading? The powerhouse lineup of speakers curated by TEDx Houston will blow your mind, contributing groundbreaking concepts with the intent to incite thought, action and change.

TEDx is an independently organized event licensed by TED, the nonprofit organization that devoted to "ideas worth spreading" in technology, entertainment and design — promising a fast paced assemblage of short lectures, also serving as a forum to connect like minded individuals.

In that spirit, the audience is curated. If you didn't apply, you can't go. But that doesn't mean you won't have a chance to enjoy it. Watch the simulcast on the event's website. Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.

First Annual VegFest Houston Community Festival at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

Breaking news. Houston is vegetarian and vegan friendly. Our city may be behind others, but the first annual VegFest indicates we are on the right track.

You've seen the movies and you've read the reports. Eating more plant-based whole foods will help you feel and operate at an optimum level.

Get help, advice and resources on how to do so from Houston's vegan and vegetarian vendors, offering mouthwatering yummies for you to try. Kids are welcome. VegFest is free. Saturday at 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Screening of Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? at 14 Pews

There's so much to learn from observing the behavioral patterns of other living species. When these patterns start changing, as a society concerned with preservation and survival, we should pay attention and examine the symptoms and consequences.

Bees are disappearing from beehive colonies and Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? explores the phenomenon while weaving a dramatic story. Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.

That's my schedule. Where will my illustrious colleagues be? Here are their suggestions:

Associate editor and CultureMap's resident gourmand Sarah Rufca's pick: Houston Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands

Sarah says: "Houston Wine & Food Week runs all week in and around The Woodlands, but foodies should look out for the big three: Wine Walk at Market Street on Thursday (which offers music, shopping and over 100 vendors pouring vino), Sips, Suds & Sliders on Friday (where wine meets beer and burgers) and the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase on Saturday, with 50 chefs and 500 wines to taste and try.

"Are you hungry enough? We dare you to do it all (but don't forget a cab or hotel)."

Arts contributor and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Ars Lyrica Houston presents "Forbidden Pleasures" at the Hobby Center

Nancy says: "I never miss a chance to see the amazing Houston soprano Melissa Givens, her voice is simply transcendent. "Forbidden Pleasures," the conclusion to Ars Lyrica's season, will include works by Alessandro Scarlatti written during the prohibition of opera in Rome.

"In addition to Givens, countertenor Ryland Angel will make his Ars Lyrica debut. The flamboyant music of the castrati seems a perfect way to wrap up a season. There's a post-concert HYPA party too. I'm there." Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Assistant editor and nightlife expert Caroline Gallay's pick: Houston Beer Fest 

Caroline says: "It was a close call between this one-day beer festival outside of City Hall and the Capture the Cruze scavenger hunt to win a Chevy Cruze, but let's be honest, we all know where I'll end up if I'm within walking distance of some flip cup." Saturday at 2 p.m.

Photo editor and design connoisseur Barbara Kuntz's pick: Modern Home Tour Houston 2011

Barbara says: "On my calendar is the Modern Home Tour Houston on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. I like to see what our modern-proponent architects have created, especially homes from MC2, Intexture and STUDIO. If you are in a party mood, there is a reception from 6-9 p.m. Saturday with the architects, designers and sponsors at BMW West Houston."

Learn to eat and love your vegetables at Houston first VegFest. Photo by Joel Luks
MFAH Family
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston kicks off its family summer programming with an interactive performance featuring Two Star Symphony.
News_Modern home tour_8210 Hillcroft_MC2 Architects_FOR SINGLE PHOTO
The Modern Home Tour showcases what's now and haute in the world of residential construction. Courtesy of Houston Modern Home Tour
Queen of the Sun
Studying the behavioral patterns of other species often leads to learning something about ourselves. What are bees telling us?
News_Ars Lyrica_Nancy Wozny_Matthew Dirst
Early music has never been so naughty. The Ars Lyrica concert programs music forbidden at the time of Alessadro Scarlatti. Courtesy of Ars Lyrica
Melissa Givens
Soprano Melissa Givens is a local favorite and frequents the stage with Ars Lyrica. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
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