Things To Do

Best Bets: Bach, Mekong: SOUL, and My Year of Dicks

Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ brings Mekong: SOUL to Asia Society Texas Center.
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ brings Mekong: SOUL to Asia Society Texas Center. Photo by Ben Doyle
It’s “Do a Grouch a Favor” Day, so do your part and send this list of best bets to the grumpiest person you know and encourage them to get out and see something that just might put a smile on their crabby face. This week, we’ve got world premiere music works, Oscar-worthy short films, and the musical version of a beloved film. Keep reading for more on the best to do over the next seven days.

The news keeps coming in for the Formosa Quartet. Following the news of a new violist for the ensemble back in December, just in time for their 20th anniversary season, last week the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music named Formosa Quartet as their Quartet-in-Residence. Though tickets are sold out to Saturday night’s performance at Christ Church Cathedral, where their residency will be officially announced, you can still catch the ensemble – violist Matthew Cohen, violinists Wayne Lee and Jasmine Lin, and cellist Deborah Pae – tonight, Thursday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. for Narrative Meaning in Art and Music at Blaffer Art Museum. McGovern College Dean (and musicologist) Andrew Davis will join the group to talk about the relationship between art and music, and specifically artist Leslie Martinez and composer Robert Schumann. You can RSVP for the free performance here.

The Mekong River covers over 3,000 miles, “stretching from the Plateau of Tibet to the South China Sea.” It also inspires Mekong: SOUL, Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ and Jonathan Berger’s multi-sensory, interdisciplinary work – incorporating music, dance, and spoken words – about life on the river. At 7 p.m. on Friday, February 17, and Saturday, February 18, at Asia Society Texas Center, you can get a sneak peak of the still in-progress work, performed with artists from Southeast Asia and the Apollo Chamber Players, ahead of its premiere in April at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Võ recently said, “We really hope that Mekong: SOUL (helps) connect us, the Southeast Asian artists and culture, with Apollo, the American string quartet, in terms of sound, in terms of soul, in terms of feeling, of stories.” Both performances will be proceeded by an artist talk at 7 p.m. with the performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here for $29.
If you caught Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams announcing Oscar nominees last month, then you may remember the giggles elicited from the title of one of the animated shorts. Well, you can catch that animated short – Pamela Ribon’s My Year of Dicks – over at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as they screen this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts – animation, live action and documentary. Ribon’s film will be screened alongside the other animated short films at 7 p.m. on February 17 and 24 and 2 p.m. March 4 and 11; the live actions shorts will be shown at 7 p.m. February 18 and March 3, 6 p.m. February 23, and 5 p.m. February 26; and documentaries will screen at 2 p.m. February 19 and March 2, 5 p.m. March 5, and 6 p.m. March 10. Tickets are available for each program of the 2023 Oscar-Nominated Short Films series for $7 to $9.

On Friday, February 17, at 7:30 p.m. you can experience Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s cullud wattah, a two-act play about a family of women – three generations – and six days of their lives during Flint, Michigan’s water crisis. Director Rachel Hemphill Dickson told the Houston Press that the play has “a layer of full reality” and “a layer of Afro-surreal,” adding, "You have to be willing to be present. That it is not a piece for you to come and just watch a play. And if you’re willing to think about relationships on a micro level and the impacts our country has on people’s lives on a macro level then you will enjoy the journey.” Performances will continue at 7 or 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at The Gordy through March 31 (check the Stages website to confirm times and dates). Tickets are available here for $50 to $84.
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ROCO continues their In Concert series on Saturday with a program titled Friends.
Photo by Ray Kuglar, Courtesy of Blueprint Film Co.
ROCO’s In Concert Series continues on Saturday, February 18, at 5 p.m. with a program titled Friends at Rice University's Brockman Hall for Opera. Concertmaster Scott St. John will lead the conductorless concert, featuring a premiere, co-commissioned by ROCO, from Brian Raphael Nabors inspired by Maya Angelou's "A Brave and Startling Truth.” Rounding out the program is Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s spiritual, “Keep Me From Sinking Down”; Joachim Raff’s enduringly popular “Sinfonietta,” Antonín Dvořák’s “lyrical gem for violin and orchestra,” “Serenade for Strings”; and “Jery und Bätely: Overture” by an “obscure female opera composer from the 1880s,” Ingeborg Bronsart von Schellendorf. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $35 and can be purchased here. The concert will also be livestreamed free on ROCO’s website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and

Get a little taste of the Academy Awards at Houston’s own Oscars-style award show at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, when the Houston Film Critics Society converge on The MATCH for the 16th Annual Houston Film Critics Society Movie Awards. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin lead the nominees with nine nominations each including Best Picture, and you can cheer (or jeer) the winners across that and sixteen other categories. Special appearances by the Consuls General of the five countries represented in the Best Foreign Language Feature category will attend and local artists will be on hand to perform the Best Song nominees. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and an after party will follow right after the show. Tickets can be purchased here for $10 to $15.
To all the Johann Sebastian Bach fans out there: If you’ve ever wondered what his works might sound like if he and his friends took a go at them after a couple of beers, you can find an answer on Saturday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. when DACAMERA welcomes Ruckus with Emi Ferguson to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The flutist and early music ensemble joined forces in 2019 to record an album of Back preludes and sonatas which lends it title to Saturday night’s program, Fly the Coop: Music of J.S. Bach. Together, Ruckus and Ferguson tackle Bach’s “endlessly adaptable” music in new ways that are “loud,” “percussive,” “syncopated and catchy,” and “open to newly-composed counterpoints, or to mash-ups like quoting the ‘Goldberg’ Variations in the middle of a flute sonata.” Tickets can be purchased here for $37.50 to $67.50.

See the musical based on Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 starting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, when Memorial Hermann Broadway at the Hobby Center brings Moulin Rouge! The Musical to town. The production, directed by Alex Timbers, is a winner of 10 Tony Awards and has been described as “a cloud-surfing, natural high of a production,” one in which “even songs you thought you never wanted to hear again pulse with irresistible new sex appeal.” Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays (plus performances at 1 p.m. on February 23 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. on March 12) through March 12 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased here for $35 to $140 (not to mention resell prices).
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.