Things To Do

Best Bets: Armstrong, Brahms, and Accordion Kings & Queens

Adam Castan͂eda presents a new evening-length work titled Lazarus in the Promised this weekend.
Adam Castan͂eda presents a new evening-length work titled Lazarus in the Promised this weekend. Photo by Jeffrey Hilbert
Whether your idea of a good time is a lively festival or a jazzy night out, and whether your ideal soundtrack is trumpet heavy or accordion heavy, well, we’ve got options for you on this week’s list of best bets. Keep reading for our top event picks coming up this weekend.

This weekend, the Houston Symphony welcomes trumpeter and vocalist Byron Stripling for Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Songbook. Stripling, whose interest in the trumpet was “sparked” by his father’s Louis Armstrong records, will join the Symphony, led by Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke, to play classic Armstrong tunes like “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,” “Saint Louis Blues,” and, of course, “What a Wonderful World.” The beauty of this music is in its timelessness, as Stripling has noted that “nothing can ever get old in jazz, because it’s meant to be felt differently all the time.” In-hall concerts are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, November 5, and Saturday, November 6, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, November 7. You can purchase tickets for $29 to $140 here. Or you can stay home and stream Saturday night’s concert only. You can nab a $20 ticket to the livestream here.

You may recall back in July when we learned that the City of Houston was, for the first time, celebrating Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead with a new festival and parade. Well, the time has come. Houston Día de los Muertos is scheduled for Saturday, November 6 and though you can join the free festival anytime between 2 and 10 p.m., you’ll definitely want to check out the parade, which will begin and end at Sam Houston Park, scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Though a week after most Día de los Muertos events – the day itself was on November 2 after all – there’s never a bad time to celebrate life, so enjoy the floats, the live music, the concessions, and plenty of arts and crafts.
The Fellini Centennial Tour over at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston closes this weekend with screenings of Ginger and Fred on Saturday, November 6, at 2 p.m. and Amarcord on Sunday, November 7, at 2 p.m. In Ginger and Fred, Fellini uses the TV reunion of two 40-some-years past their prime dancers to consider “television as a universe complete unto itself, where immortality is a three-minute spot on-camera and where shadows are more real than the figures that cast them.” And in Amarcord, Fellini’s fourth Academy Award-winning best foreign-language film, you’ll find “one of the director’s best-loved creations, beautifully weaving together Giuseppe Rottuno’s colorful cinematography, Danilo Donati’s extravagant costumes and sets, and Nino Rota’s nostalgia-tinged score.” Tickets to each film can be purchased for $7 to $9 (here for Ginger and Fred and here for Amarcord).

Before the accordion, the “unique Texas-based music tradition” of conjunto actually used a violin. But given that the musicians were playing outside, they needed a “bigger, louder sound” and the accordion fit the bill. It’s hard to imagine otherwise, but you don’t have to. Conjunto is but one style of music you can expect to hear over at Miller Outdoor Theatre this Saturday, November 6, at 7 p.m. during Texas Folklife Presents: The Accordion Kings & Queens. You can also hear polka, Cajun, zydeco, and more at the concert, now in its 32nd year. Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys will headline along with Christina Valdez, and you can also catch the winners of Texas Folklife’s Big Squeeze statewide youth accordion contest. Register here for a free seated ticket, or grab a blanket or lawn chair and head for the ticketless seating on the Hill. You can also catch this one from home on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page.

Find a touch of solace in Johannes Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, which will be performed during the Houston Chamber Choir’s concert this weekend, To Bring Comfort, presented with the Houston Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine. Brahms’s requiem, both “a deeply personal musical memorial” and “a work of consolation for those left behind,” will be joined on the program by Brahms’s Variations on an Original Theme for Piano Solo, Op. 21 No.1, and the world premiere of Hymn for Strength. With words by Houston Poet Laureate Outspoken Bean and music by J. Todd Frazier, the new work will be specially performed by a choir of representatives from the Houston healthcare community. The concert will be presented in person at the South Main Baptist Church at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 6 and you can purchase tickets for $10 to $25 here. If you can’t make it, you can look forward to the virtual release of the concert on the Houston Chamber Choir’s Digital Stage on November 21.
click to enlarge DACAMERA presents Jason Moran: Jason Moran: James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters. - PHOTO BY CAMILLE BLAKE
DACAMERA presents Jason Moran: Jason Moran: James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters.
Photo by Camille Blake
You’ll be forgiven (this time) if you’re not familiar with James Reese Europe, despite his standing as “an almost mythic figure from the dawn of jazz.” Reese Europe, along with his band the Harlem Hellfighters, landed in France on New Year’s Day 1918, and has since been widely “credited with bringing jazz to Europe during World War I.” At 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 6, at the Wortham Theater Center, DACAMERA will present multi-hyphenate Jason Moran in Jason Moran: James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters, an evening featuring “original compositions by Moran that re-imagine the music of James Reese Europe’s 396th US Infantry ‘Hell Fighters’ Band featuring visual contributions from filmmaker John Akomfrah and cinematographer Bradford Young.” You can purchase a ticket to watch Moran kick off DACAMERA’s jazz series with his “mediation” on Reese Europe’s life and legacy for $42.50 to $72.50 here.

It’s been ten years since Adam Castan͂eda, executive and artistic director of the Pilot Dance Project, left the Jehovah's Witnesses, the belief system his grandparents adopted after they emigrated from Mexico to Houston 70 years ago. This weekend, Castan͂eda will showcase a new evening-length work titled Lazarus in the Promised, which explores his family history as well as his experiences with the religion. Through 11 dancers and a community ensemble, set to live accompaniment and musical compositions by Aurum Son, Castan͂eda’s work interprets familiar Bible stories, like the story of creation and Jonah and the whale; considers practices within the religion and its culture; as well as serves as a remembrance of his grandparents. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 6, and Sunday, November 7, at The Storyhive. Tickets can be purchased here for $15 or for $20 at the door.
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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.