Fresno has long been a fan of Dance Theatre of Harlem, one of the nation’s best known dance companies. The ensemble’s weekend performance is one of my top arts picks, along with an appearance by world-famous cellist Lynn Harrell at a star-studded chamber concert at Fresno State and the opening of a new production of the comic opera “H.M.S. Pinafore” at the 2nd Space Theatre.
The event: Dance Theatre of Harlem is returning to Fresno for the sixth time in a performance sponsored by the Lively Arts Foundation.
The draw: DTOH first came to Fresno 27 years ago and was one of the first big dance concerts staged by Lively Arts. The company’s popularity in the central San Joaquin Valley is attributable to its ability to make ballet entertaining and accessible to local audiences, says Lively Arts artistic director Diane Mosier.
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The program: Ulysses Dove, the powerhouse contemporary choreographer who died in 1996, is represented by “Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven,” with music by Arvo Part, an elegiac piece with themes of loss, angst and friendship. It’s a beautiful and captivating work. Also featured: Robert Garland’s “Brahms Variations” and Nacho Duato’s “Coming Together.” All are Fresno premieres.
The event: Fresno State presents a “Chamber Music Extravaganza” featuring Harrell, considered one of the world’s top cellists.
The draw: Harrell is no stranger to Fresno: He played at a Fresno State cello festival in 2013 and performed with the Fresno Philharmonic in 2007. He’s made more than 30 recordings and appeared with many of the world’s leading symphonies including Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Tel Aviv.
The program: Brahms’ String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat major; and Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D minor, known as “Souvenir de Florence.” Fresno State music professor Thomas Loewenheim calls the pieces “some of the best chamber music ever written.”
The players: Along with Harrell, featured musicians are violinist Stephen Boe, a Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition prize winner; Paul Coletti, described by Fanfare magazine as “the best violist currently on the musical scene today”; violist Michael Chang, a faculty member at California State University, Fullerton; and Fresno State music professors Limor Toren-Immerman on violin and Loewenheim on cello.
Master class: If you’re a fan of the cello, you don’t want to miss Harrell’s master class (10 a.m. Sunday at the Fresno State Concert Hall), which is free and open to the public.
Details: The concert is 8 p.m. Saturday, Fresno State Concert Hall. www.fresnostate.edu/music. $25, $20 seniors, $15 students.
Gilbert & Sullivan
The event: A captain’s daughter falls in love with a lowly sailor in “H.M.S. Pinafore.”
The draw: The comic opera, with a book by W.S. Gilbert and music by Arthur Sullivan, lampoons the British class system. J. Daniel Herring directs.