Donald Munro

From Keyboard Concerts to Herrera choral concert, lots of cultural possibilities

Kirill Gerstein performs Sunday, May 7, at Fresno State.
Kirill Gerstein performs Sunday, May 7, at Fresno State. Provided by Keyboard Concerts

My arts picks this week include the end of the season for Keyboard Concerts, a “spicy” concert by Soli Deo Gloria, the opening of the musical “Crowns,” a “Rat Pack” concert in Auberry, a “Spring Fling” concert by the Youth Orchestras of Fresno and a chance to relive Juan Felipe Herrera’s closing musical program at the Library of Congress.

Keyboard Concerts

The event: The Russian-Israeli-American pianist Kirill Gerstein makes a stop in Fresno for the season finale of the Philip Lorenz Memorial Keyboard Concerts series at Fresno State.

The draw: Gerstein was the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and he went on to win first prize at the 2001 Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. His Fresno program will include works by J.S. Bach, Brahms and Liszt. If you’ve never experienced Keyboard Concerts before, it’s a wonderful introduction to the world of stellar piano music. The performers who come through on tour for Keyboard Concerts are often playing in major venues in New York, Chicago and San Francisco – but in Fresno you can hear them for a fraction of the price.

Details: 3 p.m. Sunday, Fresno State Concert Hall. www.keyboardconcerts.com, 559-278-2337. $25, $18 seniors, $5 students.

Soli Deo Gloria

The event: The Fresno-based women’s chorale presents “Spark & Spice,” a concert featuring music from South America, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

The draw: The program includes the commissioned piece “Five Solas,” by Fresno composer Larry Warkentin, a retired Fresno Pacific University music professor. It is a tribute to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Other pieces in the rhythm-heavy evening include the Canadian folksongs “J’Entends le Moulin” and “Savory, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,” both designed to get toes tapping. Music director Julie Carter will give a ecture a half-hour before performance time.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Friday, College Community Church Mennonite Brethren, 2529 Willow Ave., Clovis. www.brownpapertickets.com, 559-473-6486. $15 in advance and $20 at the door; $10 students.

‘Crowns’

The event: The Fresno branch of the NAACP presents the musical “Crowns.”

The draw: Fresno State theater professor Thomas-Whit Ellis directs this buoyant gospel musical by Regina Taylor, which salutes the role of hats (aka “crowns”) in the black community.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Moments of Blessings House of Prayer, 378 W. Fallbrook Ave. 559-263-1367. $15, $10 students.

Young musicians

The event: Youth Orchestras of Fresno presents its two younger ensembles in the concert “Spring Fling.”

The draw: You’ll be amazed at the talent of these musicians, some as young as 6. The program features the Youth Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Adam Elmore, and the Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Loewenheim.

Details: 4 p.m. Sunday, Roosevelt High School Auditorium, 4250 E Tulare. Ave. www.youthorchestrasfresno.org, 559-275-6694. Free.

Auberry concert

The event: Vocalist Garry Seefeldt performs “My Funny Valentine” at Sierra Lutheran Church in Auberry.

The draw: What a great excuse to drive to the foothills on a beautiful spring day. Seefeldt sings the music of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. And it’s free!

Details: 4 p.m. Saturday, Sierra Lutheran Church, 32410 Rockhill Lane, Auberry. 559-855-8989. Free.

Command performance

The event: “Speak the People/The Spark/El Poema,” a concert featuring the Fresno State Chamber Singers and U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, will reprise Herrera’s closing concert at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The draw: Fresno State music professors Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich wrote five original pieces between them for this program, setting the music to poems of Herrera and Mia Barraza Martinez. Herrera is part of the live performance as well, with his spoken words integrated into the compositions. I was able to watch this event live online and was moved by the passion, intensity and liveliness of the performance.

Details: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Fresno State Concert Hall. Free tickets are available in the Fresno State Music Department Office, room M134. Limited seating.

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