Theater & Arts

UPDATE: Arts picks: Babayan joins Kuchar for Prokofiev

Clarinetist Howard Klug joins the Fresno Community Concert Band on Sunday, March 13.
Clarinetist Howard Klug joins the Fresno Community Concert Band on Sunday, March 13. Special to The Bee

UPDATE: Story updated to reflect change of Fresno Philharmonic program from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Fresno’s classical music scene is reveling in a master pianist this week: Armenian American favorite Sergei Babayan, who has built up a loyal local following throughout the years. His appearance Sunday with the Fresno Philharmonic is at the top of my picks this week.

Seeing double

▪ The event: Theodore Kuchar, Fresno Philharmonic’s conductor and music director for 15 years, has just three concerts remaining during his tenure. It’s fitting that one of those last three will feature Kuchar teamed up with Babayan, one of the conductor’s favorite pianist collaborators. Babayan will perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the orchestra.

▪ The draw: You might be rubbing your eyes in confusion right about now: Wasn’t Babayan a pick in this space last week? Yes, he was, but that’s because he’s appearing in Fresno twice within a matter of days. He performed Wednesday, March 9, with the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series. On Sunday, March 13, he will play with the Fresno Philharmonic. The orchestra’s executive director, Stephen Wilson, tells me the two organizations collaborated on booking Babayan to create a mini-residency of sorts.

As for Babayan’s virtuosity, he’s a big name and has played with most of the major orchestras in the world. It will be special to hear him and Kuchar together on a Fresno stage one last time.

▪ Details: 3 p.m. Sunday, March 13, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 559-261-0600. $25-$79.

Saluting students

▪ The event: The Fresno Community Concert Band, under the direction of Robert Nielsen, offers “A Cause for Celebration” to mark Music in Our Schools Month. Guest artist is Howard Klug, professor of clarinet at Indiana University.

▪ The draw: Klug is as well known for being an educator as he is for being an outstanding soloist with virtuosic technique. He will perform James Curnow’s “Concertino for Clarinet, Winds and Percussion.” (And for true classical music fans, you can attend the Fresno Philharmonic concert and still catch the concert band’s evening performance.)

▪ Details: 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 13, Fresno City College Theatre. Admission is free but you must have a ticket., 559-442-8221.

Feminine identity

▪ The event: Leslie Batty, who has made a name for herself on the local arts scene with her large-scale paintings, opens the show “Everyday Stages” at 1821 Gallery & Studios.

▪ The draw: Batty combines razor-sharp social commentary with a beautiful aesthetic. Her new show explores ideas of feminine identity construction within contemporary Western society.

▪ Details: Show opens Wednesday, March 16, at 1821 Gallery & Studios, 1821 Calaveras St. Opening reception is 4-8 p.m. Saturday, March 19.