Every few months or so we get what I call a “culture-jam” – a bunch of events on one weekend, often causing fans of the arts to have to make some difficult choices. This is one of those weekends. (Consider Saturday afternoon/evening: Fresno Grand Opera, the San Joaquin Chorale and the Fresno Choral Artists all performing at close to the same time. What’s a vocal aficionado to do?) I’m dividing my arts picks for the week into three categories to help you keep track.
Keyboard Concerts: If you’re looking for an impressive out-of-town name to experience, this is the concert for you. Yeol Eum Son is one of South Korea’s leading pianists and was the silver medal winner at the 2009 Van Cliburn and 2011 Tchaikovsky piano competitions. (“It cannot get much better than that,” says Andreas Werz, artistic director of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series). Son will be playing works by Schumann, Alkan, Kapustin, and Prokofiev at 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, in the Fresno State Concert Hall. The event is co-sponsored by the Central California Korean Historical Society. Details: www.keyboardconcerts.com, 559-278-2337. $25, $18 seniors, $5 students.
Fresno State Symphony Orchestra: The ensemble’s final concert of the season, “Spotlight on the Students and Anna Hamre,” includes a salute to Hamre, who is retiring as conductor of the Fresno State Concert Choir. The program features a world premiere of Juan Maldonado’s “VY Canis Majoris” and Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony No. 10. Thomas Loewenheim conducts. Details: 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7, Fresno State Concert Hall. www.fresnostate.edu/music. $15, $10 seniors, $5 students.
“Big Fish”: Based on the 2003 movie about a man whose impossible stories of his epic adventures frustrate his son, this musical adaptation (with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa) got some strong reviews but didn’t last long on Broadway in 2013. Playhouse Merced promises a show “overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft” in its production, which opens Friday, May 6, and runs through May 22. Details: www.playhousemerced.com, 209-725-8587. $15-$22, $10 children.
“Of Mice and Men”: There’s something special about watching this John Steinbeck classic in the middle of California’s agricultural heartland. Reedley’s River City Theater Company presents the tale of George (Ken Stocks) and his large, simple companion, Lennie (Tommie Hill), through their harrowing trials and dreams of a better life. Details: Opens 8 p.m. Friday, May 6; runs through May 22 at the Reedley Opera House, 1720 10th St., Reedley. www.reedleyrivercitytheatre.org, 559-638-6500. $20-$39.
Fresno Choral Artists: The ensemble, under the direction of Greg Lapp, offers a special joint concert with University High School’s Chamber Choir (also conducted by Lapp) and Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Randall Cornelison). The program includes Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (featuring soloist Michael Krikorian, a University High graduate getting his doctorate at the University of Southern California), Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Festival” and John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen” from “Saving Private Ryan.” The concert promises to be an intriguing blend of student musicians and experienced singers. Details: 4 p.m. Saturday, May 7, Shaghoian Hall, 2770 E. International Ave. www.fresnochoralartists.org. $5.