Pick Five (Plus)
Your weekly guide to Houston: Scary stories, the 40th Buffalo Regatta & a wild1980s AIDS walk
Houston was curious about getting to know the real Mozart, and that was clear by the jammed-packed house eager to listen to pianist and University of Houston professor Timothy Hester. When he took on three of the composer's piano concerti on fortepiano, assisted by a period orchestra of local musicians and artists as far away as Amsterdam, Moores Opera House was suffused with the essence of 18th century Austria.
Before long, sighs, oohs and aahs could be heard in between movements, and chatter signaled that a spark just had lit inside listeners' heads. Somehow, we all understood Mozart better than ever via the Amadeus Project.
And that's what Hester wanted: To bring the past into focus.
While cupcakes and bubbly were being served at Friday Night Samplings with King Tut at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a chipper crowd of art junkies couldn't get enough of MFAH's Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection. At the members preview, a bewitched, bothered and bewildered bunch observed in enchantment how artists challenged the conventions on their medium.
Tip: Whatever you do, do not look closely at Beth Cavener Stichter's The Inquisitors, a pair of goat-like creatures that share one head, or Elise Siegel's installation Into the room of Dream/Dread I Abrupt Awake Clapping. Both works will haunt you.
Like children of the corn. You've been forewarned.
Now, what to do this week, you ask? On tap there is an '80s walk, a boat race, Jewish cinema, French music and more.
The silver screen bacchanal began with Kaddish for a Friend Tuesday night. Movie buffs have until March 18 to pore through 20 motion pictures, curated as a collaborative effort between the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Holocaust Museum Houston.
Whether you are interested in historical fiction, thrillers, feel-good stories, reality TV, children's movies or gut-wrenching drama, there's something for everyone. And no, you don't have to be a matzah ball-loving Jew (like me) to enjoy movies of importance to the culture and Israel.
If you love to meet Hollywood types, some filmmakers, producers and directors will be around for some of the screenings.
Through March 18. Tickets start at $5 and festival passes start at $50.
One fateful day with a pinch of apprehension, I submitted a very personal story to the crazies at BooTown. A month later, it was read at the zany Grown-up Storytime series during which I wailed with laughter. I couldn't help myself. Since then, the troupe of fruitcakes haven't disappointed, and I expect the same for the second episode of this Benshi-style performance.
The film Road House is the backdrop from which Emily Hynds, Blake Whitaker and Joe Wozny (he prefers Woe Jozny) will reinterpret the storyline with satirical narration. Lucas Gorham, like a cherry on top, ponies up musical tunes.
Where does Mijo come in? Best not to ask questions. Just grab a beer.
Tickets are pay-what-you-can and can be purchased at door. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m.
Because music is better always accompanied by art, a trip to MFAH to take in the sounds of The Old City String Quartet promises to be a delightful way to spend a Sunday evening. The foursome formed while studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and is the string quartet in residence at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.
One listen to its 2009 record of the Mendelssohn and Debussy quartets expounds why Dennis Rooney from The Strad said that the group plays with "exceptional interpretative maturity, tonal refinement." This gallery concert includes Schumann's Quartet No. 3 in A Major and Haydn's Quartet Op. 77 No. 1 in G Major.
Tickets are $15. Seating is limited. Sunday, 7 p.m.
The Buffalo Bayou Regatta is turning 40 and that's quite the accomplishment for Texas' largest canoe and kayak competition. Although I haven't participated in the race, I was wild about being a groupie supporting friends. Amid a mayhem of colorful boats, there's a thrilling energy as all the contestant get ready to take in the urban waterways that initially birthed the city of Houston.
Last minute paddlers can register for $45 at the event. But if you want to be timed, make sure to get your info in by midnight Thursday. Or you can just hang out at the starting line and join in for the awards ceremony and after party at Sesquicentennial Park.
Saturday. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. Race begins at 9 a.m. Awards ceremony at Sesquicentennial Park is at 1 p.m.
The Debussy French fete continues with the nonprofit's young artists paying homage to the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth. If you can't get enough of indulgent, hazy and beautiful Parisian tunes, explore them further at this informal "Stop, Look and Listen!" concert that programs works by Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen and Saint-Saëns.
There's more. Take a listen to new pieces by smarties Mark Buller and Benjamin Krause, composers in Da Camera's Young Artist Program, who crafted tunes in response to Debussy's painterly Preludes.
Event is free. Saturday, 3 p.m.
It's time to bring back '80s big hair, shoulder pads, mini skirts and Members Only jackets. AIDS Walk Houston 2012 is trying on a different look this year with an 1980s themed 5K stroll. HIV/AIDS is serious business, but that doesn't mean that fundraising for the cause can't be totally tubular.
Don't have team? Let's not allow that to get in the way of doing good: Participate as an individual or start your own squad. You'll be helping organizations that provide housing, food, medical care, counseling and job training to those living with and battling the disease every day.
Sunday, 8 a.m.
Whitney says: "I'm still dizzy from the fresh, clean air I breathed during a recent trip to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest. I'd like to fill my own (very small) backyard with hard-to-find green goodies from the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center's Native Plant Sale on Saturday and Sunday."
Admission is free. Sale is everyday from Saturday through March 18.
Nancy says: "FotoFest hasn't officially begun but I got in the photo frame of mind at Libbie Masterson's show, Nuit, at Wade Wilson Art. Well acquainted with Masterson's work from both her shows at Wade Wilson and her collaborations with Dominic Walsh, I found this new batch of work — created during a Dora Maar Residency through the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Brown Foundation — sublimely serene and alluring.
"I could just picture Walsh's dancers mingling amidst the night forest. Luminous and subtle, Nuit, evokes a an innate sense of theatricality. And, don't you know it, Masterson is collaborating with Walsh again."
Free admission. Nuit is on display through April 14
Karen says: "There's two not-to-be-missed shows this weekend. Dr. Dog with Givers on Saturday and of Montreal with Cults on Sunday, both at Fitzgerald's. I'm not quite sure if all these guys will be playing SXSW, but I'll be making my way to Austin this year and definitely will catch of Montreal there. If you can't make it to the festival this year, then you're in luck because most acts will be playing Houston the week before or after.
"I've been long-time fans of of Montreal and Dr. Dog, but Cults and and Givers have been buzzed-about bands recently. Cults' debut album is one of my faves. So be sure to check these guys out, you'll have a fun time, no doubt."
Tickets are $18.