It's all but officially summer. Things should have slowed down in Houston. They haven't.
Not if last week — and this — are any indication.
Last week, the Bayou City Art Festival recognized its non-profit partners for assisting in mobilizing volunteers and providing essential services to help the event run smoothly. A total of $135,000 was donated, with special shout outs to FotoFest and the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston for their efforts.
The University of Houston Moores Concert Chorale sang a tireless and dynamic send-off performance, showing off its artistic range and huge (I mean gigantic) voluminous sound. At the Floriége Vocal de Tours in Tours, France, the students received recognition for Best Mixed Choir category along with two other choirs, and earned Best World Premiere with the debut of The Door Ajar written by Moores School of Music director David Ashley White.
In the movie Trust, David Schwimmer showed that life does not end after Friends. Screened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the film focuses on Internet sexual predators and the aftereffects on familial relationships, concentrating on behavioral patterns between father and daughter. The movie's strong emotional content moved everyone.
The screening of Summer Wars also at MFAH was presented in collaboration with Comicpalooza. Visually stunning, the movie questions society's dependence on the Internet for daily functions and social connections.
Classical Revolution put on its second concert, this time at The Ginger Man. Fans came out in hordes, filling the comfy patio, downing good brew and ignoring the heat to hear three young sensational ensembles flex their musical muscles. "Strings on Tap" assembled the Quartus Chamber Players, the Blue Static Saxophone Quartet (which recently earned silver at Fischoff) and the Tetra String Quartet (touring Texas in the Music Bus Tour).
Shostakovich, Schnittke, Lady Gaga and Ghostbusters music mingled for a lovely artsy and haute afternoon.
Moving on to this week.
Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) Rock of Ages at the Hobby Center
Big city boy — played by season four American Idol hopeful Constantine Maroulis (maybe, he didn't show for the first two performances) — meets small town girl. They fall in love, sort of. He calls her a "friend," she sleeps with a rock star and becomes a stripper.
He morphs into a boy band type dude, abandoning his hard rock dreams. They sing '80s big hair rock ballads, and they live happily ever after. That's the gist behind Rock of Ages, a story told through the music of Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benatar Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister and others. It's a rad good time.
If you have some cash to spare, try the VIP Mosh Pit right at the front of the stage, with beverage and food service. Runs through June 12.
Quartus Chamber Players Season Finale Concert at Christ Church Cathedral
Chamber music is alive and well in Houston with fine ensembles popping up everywhere. Finishing its first full season, the Quartus Chamber Players are approaching this concert with fearless conviction, programming two monsters of the string repertoire. The Viola Quintet in G Major is everything Brahms should be: Rich, lugubrious and romantic. Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 13 is chilling, powerful and at times, surreal and ethereal.
This young troupe brings energy and vitality to classical music, demonstrating that the genre is timeless. Friday at 7 p.m.
Big Range Dance Festival at Barnevelder Dance Movement Complex
Houston is an important hub for the world of contemporary dance and experimental movement. The Big Range Dance Festival showcases what's fresh, new and fabulous in the genre from established choreographers and dance ensembles, as well as works from emerging talent, breaking through barriers and expanding the boundaries of dance vocabulary.
Program A begins this weekend on Friday and Saturday, presenting works by Erin Reck, Leslie Scates/Jordan Fuchs, Teresa Chapman, Jennifer Wood/Suchu Dance and Amanda Jackson/Matthew Cumbie. The Dance Gathering on Sunday is a fast-paced uncurated first-come-first-served anything goes dance bacchanal.
Works are one to four minutes in length and can range from hula, hip hop, avant-garde and ballet.
National Trails Day with REI, Inc. at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
This 155-acre conservation sanctuary is home to many native plants and wildlife surrounding the five miles of walking trails that are available year-round to the public at no charge. Saturday at 8 a.m. Registration is required.
25th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition at East Beach on Galveston Island
Adults playing in the sand? This competition is far from just fun and games. Teams begin many months in advance, generating ideas, formulating designs and assigning responsibilities in hopes of winning the Golden Bucket Award. It's one of the largest amateur competitions in the world and this year, 54 teams will shovel away for a chance at the title.
My colleagues picks?
Assistant editor and city life expert Caroline Gallay's pick: First Saturday Arts Market
Caroline says: "It's the first time that attendees will be allowed to buy wine at the event, and I'm really looking forward to that new addition for this and other Heights-area events — including White Linen Night August 6!" Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m.
Assistant editor and art savant Steven Thomson's pick: Lecture: Are You Kidding Me? Lubbock?
Steven says: "To most, the life of both the artist and professor is riddled with mystery. Learn the secrets of Future Akins, Staci Elko and Sang-Mi Yoo, who straddle both professions, teaching at Texas Tech University and creating distinctive prints." Saturday at 2 p.m.
Arts contributor and Dancehunter Nancy Wozny's pick: Wendy Wagner's Once Uponse a Time in the Land of O-Poppida...
Nancy says: "I always get a big mental boost when I see work by Wendy Wagner. It's like a bolt of strange that sets me straight. She brings us into her enchanting world in Once Uponse a Time in the Land of O-Poppida ... with new paintings, prints, ceramics, installation art and animation at DARKE | gallery.
"Imagine whimsy on steroids, cartoons with punch and a delicious range of media, and you can get an idea of Wagner's work. The 2008 Hunting Art Prize winner conjures her signature brand of virtuoso weird, daring to get dangerously close to sentimental in her investigation of memory, dreams and the anatomy of 'cute.' Oh, and her dog is in some of the pictures."
On display through June 10, with installation and artworks continuing in the upstairs gallery through July 9.
Managing editor Chris Baldwin's pick: Rice baseball hosting an NCAA Regional at Reckling Park
Chris says: "The excellence of Rice's baseball program often almost gets taken for granted in Houston. But here the Owls are in the tournament again (for the 17th straight year) giving local baseball fans the chance to see games that actually mean something in June (something the Houston Astros have failed to provide this year — except maybe when rookie Jordan Lyles pitches).
"Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon hasn't had quite the season people expected as he's recovered from his injured shoulder, but he's been starting to mash lately and he's still expected to be one of the top three overall picks in the Major League Baseball Draft. Watch him under postseason pressure now."
Games are Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. Rice opens against Alcorn State at 6 p.m. Friday night.