In today’s column in The Bee, I wrote about a handful of my favorite music discoveries of the year — seeing as how we’ve graduated to the second half of 2011 already. Here’s a little playlist I put together to help get the tunes in peoples’ ears. Read the column for a little bit of info on each artist. Enjoy.
I’ve already made today’s Summer Arts culminations at Fresno State one of my weekend picks, but it’s worth a second plug here. From my story in Friday’s 7 section, here’s the schedule for the rest of the day:
International chamber music, 4:30 p.m., Concert Hall.
Cornerstone Theater Company, 7 p.m., John Wright Theatre.
Michael Chekhov Theatre, 8:30 p.m., John Wright Theatre.
My story in the 7 section also includes a roundup of coming events as the second session of Summer Arts kicks off:
Opening the session is the jazz quintet bug, which draws on an eclectic range of influences but with compositions marked by a clear sense of melody. The group will be joined by guest saxophonist Hashem Assadullahi. (7 p.m. Sunday, Concert Hall. $30, $25 students and seniors.)
Grammy-nominated jazz singer and new music composer Theo Bleckmann performs solo and with his frequent collaborator, guitarist Ben Monder. (7 p.m. Tuesday, Concert Hall. $25, $20 students and seniors.)
Improvisational comedy has always been a favorite of Summer Arts audiences, and this year three popular artist return to the program: Alexandra Billings, Eric Hunicutt and David Razowsky. They’ll present a goofy evening devoted to “Katie’s Corner: Live!” a Katharine Hepburn-inspired talk show. (7 p.m. Thursday, John Wright Theatre. $25, $20 students and seniors.)
YOUR REVIEWS: As always, if you’ve been to a Summer Arts event, let us know what you think. I was able to catch two events on Wednesday. One was a theater lecture by Los Angeles-based Cornerstone Theatre Company, which does some fascinating work with underrepresented communities including day laborers. And I enjoyed hearing the Alexander String Quartet once again, this time with guest clarinetist Joan Enric Lluna. A highlight of the concert was the world premiere of Cesar Cano’s Clarinet Quintet, Op. 74 — a brusque, muscular piece that had an overall chalky and percussive feel. (I loved how the opening notes of each movement swooned, as if the pitch was taking a ride on a roller coaster.) The Brahms Intermezzo in A Major after intermission was particularly delightful as well.
Also, I’m on vacation the next two weeks, so I’ll miss the final Summer Arts session. I’ll have to live vicariously through these comments. So let us know what you think.
In theater, there’s drama all the time. Especially behind the scenes. CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre, which is hard at work preparing for the July 21 opening of “Hello, Dolly!,” had to do some serious scrambling this week when the actress playing the pivotal role of Dolly Levi dropped out of the show because of a death in the family.
To the rescue is Clytee Ramsey, a longtime Valley theater veteran who retired to Cayucos. She played the title role in “Hello, Dolly!” when Good Company Players mounted the production in 1983, 1996 and 2005. (The photo at right is from a 2001 production of “Gypsy” at GCP with Ramsey; I inexplicably could not find a photo of Ramsey’s trademark performance in our archives. Go figure.)
As her latest revival opened in ’05, the-then 60-year-old Ramsey told me in an interview: “I think this is the last time. ‘ll be too old when it comes around again.”
1. A TWIST ON ‘BEAUTY’
Leave it to director Joel Abels to come up with a fresh take on the oft-seen “Beauty and the Beast.” His new StageWorks Fresno show, which features a youth cast up to age 16, uses small “object” or tabletop puppets designed by Matthew McGee, pictured below. A tip: Get tickets early. This is a small venue. Read about the show in today’s 7 cover story.
1. GO SEE THE CIRCUS Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey makes its annual stop at Selland Arena. You have seven chances to see The Greatest Show on Earth — one tonight, and three shows on both Saturday and Sunday. [Tickets]