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Houston Symphony presents "Gershwin Concerto in F"

Houston Symphony presents "Gershwin Concerto in F"

Photo courtesy of Houston Symphony

Brimming with the toe-tapping jazz rhythms of the 1920s, Gershwin’s effervescent, free-spirited Concerto in F is positively guaranteed to leave audiences uplifted. Jeffrey Kahane will be both th conductor and soloist for a program celebrating great American composers, past and present, including outstanding recent compositions of Adolphus Hailstork and Shawn Okpebholo, along with the unbridled energy and heart-on-sleeve passion of Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1.

Image courtesy of Catastrophic Theatre

The Catastrophic Theatre presents Happy Days

The Catastrophic Theatre presents Happy Days

Beckett’s existential tragicomedy Happy Days concerns itself with the plight of Winnie, a middle-class, middle-aged woman who is quite literally stuck, buried to her waist in crusted earth. Her husband Willie lives in a hole behind her mound, physically and emotionally out of reach. Even in his company she is essentially alone.

Armed with a shopping bag of everyday items and routines, a series of half-remembered stories, songs, and prayers, and a heroic capacity for optimism, Winnie presses through an endless series of unforgiving days to the merciful night to come. The bell rings again and when the blazing sun comes charging back, she is buried up to her neck. Her last resources depleted, her arms and body sunk and gone, her predicament is irreversible, hellish, seemingly eternal. Through it all she perseveres, struggling with that which remains to make real her impossibly hopeful exclamation: “Oh this will be another happy day!”

Photo courtesy of A.D. Players

A.D. Players presents Miss Maude

A.D. Players presents Miss Maude

A.D. Players presents the pre-Broadway world premiere of Miss Maude, the inspirational true story of the relationship forged between renowned 1951 Life Magazine photographer Eugene Smith and South Carolina midwife, Made Callen. Eugene is sent to do a story on Maude, but never expects the life changing impact it will have on him.

Photo by Lynn Lane

Alley Theatre presents Lend Me A Soprano

Alley Theatre presents Lend Me A Soprano

Ken Ludwig (The Three Musketeers, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express), America’s preeminent comedic playwright, debuts a “revisal” of his classic hit Lend Me a Tenor with women in the leading roles.

Lend Me A Soprano is set in 1934 as Mrs. Lucille Wiley, General Manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, is ready to welcome world-famous soprano Elena Firenzi for her one-night only starring role in Carmen. Alas, Elena arrives late, ill and in need of a nap so, following orders, Wylie’s assistant and aspiring opera singer Jo slips sleeping pills into Elena’s martini. When Elena doesn’t wake up, it’s up to Jo to save the day.

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RodeoHouston announces ticket sale dates for  Lauren Daigle, The Chainsmokers, and Cody Jinks

rodeo tickets on sale

The time has come to start making plans to attend the 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Tickets for three concerts go on sale this Thursday, December 8 at 10 am (online waiting room opens at 9:30 am) via rodeohouston.com.

They are:

  • Christian country star Lauren Daigle on March 2
  • Electronic DJs and production duo The Chainsmokers on March 10
  • Texas country singer Cody Jinks on March 13.

Ticket prices start at $25, plus a $4 per ticket convenience fee. The other prices are:

  • Upper Level: $25 – $30
  • Loge Level: $40
  • Club Level: $50 – $55
  • Field Level: $44
  • Chairman’s Club: $150 (includes food and hosted bar)
  • Action Seats: $155 (includes hearty hors d’oeuvres and cash bar)
The Rodeo notes that those who enter the online waiting room between 9:30 and 9:59 will be randomly selected to purchase tickets when they go on sale at 10 am. Furthermore, being in the online waiting room does not guarantee that a person will be able to purchase tickets.

All tickets will be delivered electronically. To access their tickets, concertgoers will need to download the AXS Ticketing mobile app and login with the email address they used to purchase the tickets.

In September, the Rodeo announced that Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum would be the opening night performer. More acts will be announced as next year's event draws near. The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.

Lauren Daigle/Facebook

Lauren Daigle will make her RodeoHouston debut.

University of Houston powers up smart robot food server in on-site restaurant

tip your robot

The University of Houston is taking a bold step — or, in this case, roll — in foodservice delivery. UH's Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership is now deploying a robot server in Eric’s Restaurant at its Hilton College.

Booting up this new service is major bragging rights for the Coogs, as UH is now the only college in the country — and the only restaurant facility in Houston — to utilize a robotic food delivery.

These rolling delivery bots come from the state-of-the-art food service robot called Servi. The bots, created by Bear Robotics, are armed with LiDar sensors, cameras, and trays, and automatically return to their posts when internal weight sensors detect a delivery has been completed.

Not surprisingly, these futuristic food staffers are booting up plenty of buzz at UH.

“People are excited about it,” says Dennis Reynolds, who is dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership and oversees the only hospitality program in the world where students work and take classes in an internationally branded, full-service hotel. Launching robot waitstaff at UH as a test market makes sense, he notes, for practical use and larger implications.

“Robotics and the general fear of technology we see today are really untested in the restaurant industry,” he says in an announcement. “At Hilton College, it’s not just about using tomorrow’s technology today. We always want to be the leader in learning how that technology impacts the industry.”

Bear Robotics, a tech company founded by restaurant experts and tech entrepreneurs, hosted a Servi showcase at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago earlier this year. After seeing the demo, Reynolds was hooked. UH's Servi robot arrived at Eric’s Restaurant in October.

Before sending the bot to diners' tables, the bot was prepped by Tanner Lucas, the executive chef and foodservice director at Eric’s. That meant weeks of mapping, programming, and — not surprisingly — “test driving” around the restaurant.

Tanner even created a digital map of the restaurant to teach the Servi its pathways and designated service points, such as table numbers. “Then, we sent it back and forth to all of those points from the kitchen with food to make sure it wouldn’t run into anything," he adds.

But does having a robot deliver food create friction between human and automated staff? Not at Eric's. “The robot helps my workflow,” Joel Tatum, a server at Eric’s says. “It lets me spend more time with my customers instead of just chasing and running food.”

Reynolds believes robots will complement their human counterparts and actually enhance the customer experience, even in unlikely settings. “Studies have been conducted in senior living facilities where you might think a robot wouldn’t be well received, but it’s been just the opposite,” Reynolds says. “Those residents saw the change in their lives and loved it.”

To that end, he plans to use Servi bots in other UH venues. “The ballroom would be a fantastic place to showcase Servi – not as a labor-saving device, but as an excitement generator,” Reynolds notes. “To have it rotating through a big event delivering appetizers would be really fun.”

Critics who denounce robot servers and suggest they will soon displace humans are missing the point, Reynolds adds. “This isn’t about cutting our labor costs. It’s about building our top-line revenues and expanding our brand as a global hospitality innovator,” Reynolds says. “People will come to expect more robotics, more artificial intelligence in all segments of hospitality, and our students will be right there at the forefront.”

Servi bots come at a time of dynamic growth for Hilton College. A recent rebrand to “Global Hospitality Leadership” comes as the college hotel is undergoing a $30 million expansion and renovation, which includes a new five-story, 70-room guest tower. The student-run Cougar Grounds coffeehouse reopened this semester in a larger space with plenty of updates. The neighboring Eric’s Club Center for Student Success helps with recruitment and enrollment, undergraduate academic services, and career development.

“To be the first university in the country to introduce robotics in the dining room is remarkable,” Reynolds adds. “There are a lot of unique things we’re doing at Hilton College.”

Only one burning question remains: Just how does one tip a robot waitstaffer?

Photo courtesy of University of Houston

Servi bots are now delivering food at UH's Eric's Restaurant.

Acclaimed Hill Country winery pours onto list of the world's 100 best for 2022

Wine List

One Texas winery just landed on one of the most exclusive wine lists of them all. At an event held in Argentina's wine capital, Mendoza, the World’s Best Vineyards organization revealed this year’s top wine destinations for 2022. Texas' own William Chris Vineyards came in at No. 56, the only Texas vineyard on the list and one of only seven wineries from the U.S.

Founded in 2008 by Chris Brundrett and Bill Blackmon in Hye, Texas, the vineyard started out in the historic 1905 Dieke Farmhouse and has been rapidly expanding ever since. Now, the company partners with local farms to source the highest quality Texas fruit, utilizing a hands-off, low-intervention approach to allow the fruit's characteristics to shine through in the final product.

“It is such an honor to be included on the prestigious list of World’s Best Vineyards, especially as the first and only Texas winery,” said Brundrett in a release. “We’ve worked tirelessly to show the world that Texas has a place among the great wine destinations of the world, and we see this as a victory not just for William Chris Vineyards, but for the Texas wine industry as a whole. We’re excited to celebrate this with our partners and peers.”

Released annually, the World’s Best Vineyards list highlights the top must-visit vineyards globally, aiming to promote wine tourism around the world. 500 leading wine experts, sommeliers, and travel experts comprise the group's voting academy, submitting their nominations based on a wide range of criteria — from quality of overall experience to cuisine, value for money, and more. Submissions are voted on, and the collated results become the coveted World’s Best Vineyards list.

For a full list of 2022 winners, visit worldsbestvineyards.com.