Best Virtual Bets: Lunar New Year, a Kaleidoscope, and Music Illustrated

Asia Society Texas Center moves to cyberspace for Lunar New Year 2021: A Virtual Celebration.EXPAND
Asia Society Texas Center moves to cyberspace for Lunar New Year 2021: A Virtual Celebration.
Photo by Chris Dunn
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It’s another week of social distancing but, in honor of Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, let us offer another week of suggestions to keep you distracted and entertained over the coming days.

Today, Thursday, February 11, Main Street Theater opens their digital production of Caridad Svich’s The Book of Magdalene. Svich’s interest in the biblical character resulted in a 90-minute play, set in the near future, about a young woman in a transitional state. Svich told the Houston Press that she’s always interested in “making work that offers some sort of solace emotionally,” adding that she hopes The Book of Magdaleneoffers a space to contend with conflict and despair and grief,” and an example of someone else finding their way through. Tickets are available here for a regular price of $40, with pay-what-you-can tickets also available for $20 to $54. Each ticket gets you a 48-hour viewing window during the production’s run, which ends February 21.

A.D. Players at The George Theater announced in January that they were going virtual for the rest of their season and the move to cyberspace begins this Friday, February 12, with A Speck-Tacular Evening of Stories and Songs with Emily & Jake Speck. You can join A.D. Players Executive Director Jake Speck and his wife Emily Tello Speck to hear their story, from finding each other to finding their place here in Houston, and to enjoy some familiar musical theater tunes. (Take a sneak peek at Emily rehearsing Sara Bareilles’s “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress here). You can purchase a ticket for $35 here, and the show will be available to stream through February 28.

Two strangers meet at a train station and things get existential in the third and final of Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose’s newly translated short plays, Luigi Pirandello’s The Man with the Flower in His Mouth. Company members David Rainey and Jay Sullivan play the strangers in the one-act that inspired Edward Albee’s classic The Zoo Story. The Man with the Flower in His Mouth premieres this Friday, February 12, and you can register to view the play here. It will be available until March 14, and there is still time this weekend to catch the Alley’s second short play release, August Strindberg’s A Half Sheet of Paper, which ends its run this Sunday, February 14.

Enjoy the third collaboration between Musiqa and Open Dance Project this weekend when the two organizations premiere Inside/Out, a film comprised of two short dance films choreographed by Open Dance Project’s Artistic Director Annie Arnoult. Filmed by James Templeton, the two short films, titled “Moving Pieces” and “Still We Tend,” will feature 20 dancers and four musicians performing at The MATCH and Houston Botanic Garden. Inside/Out will open Saturday, February 13, and be available to view from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $25 and can be purchased here. Viewings will continue on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through February 28.

Asia Society Texas Center moves the festivities online for Lunar New Year 2021: A Virtual Celebration.EXPAND
Asia Society Texas Center moves the festivities online for Lunar New Year 2021: A Virtual Celebration.
Photo by Chris Dunn

It is the Year of the Ox, and if you’re looking for something a little hands on this week, check out Asia Society Texas Center’s Lunar New Year 2021: A Virtual Celebration. With content release spread out over four days, beginning February 12 and continuing February 13, 19 and 26, you can not only watch musical and dance performances from groups like Huaxing Performing Arts Group and Houston Shaolin Kung Fu Academy, you can also learn to make dumplings and your own lantern. The virtual festival is free, but you can purchase and pick up a ready-made activity kit for $25 at Asia Society Texas Center (while supplies last, of course) instead of making your own.

The annual, quadrennial, and vicennial fires that burn in Konza Prairie inspired one of the new works to premiere this Saturday, February 13, at 5 p.m. during ROCO’s Unchambered series concert, “Kaleidoscope.” “Konza” and “Shine,” by oboist and ROCO composer-in-residence Alyssa Morris, will see their world premieres on a program that highlights ROCO’s principal winds performing additional pieces from Valerie Coleman (Red Clay and Mississippi Delta for Wind Quintet) and William Grant Still (excerpts from Miniatures for Woodwind Quintet). You can watch the free concert, offered in partnership with Houston’s Alta Arts and performed there live, here.

Mercury Chamber Orchestra continues their “Mercury at Home” virtual concerts on Saturday, February 13, at 8 p.m. with Handel & Vivaldi. The program, led by Mercury Artistic Director and Conductor Antoine Plante, highlights two Baroque innovations, the solo concerto and the concerto grosso, with works from four different composers. The selected composers are both well known and a little less well known, including the aforementioned George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi, and Francisco Geminiani and Georg Matthias Monn. Little is known about Monn, for instance, whose Harpsichord Concerto in G minor will be played, other than he didn’t drink, was a bit dour, and was apparently the original man in black. You can purchase a ticket for $20 here.

The Houston Symphony meets virtual reality this Saturday, February 13, at 8 p.m. when Topher Sipes joins the Bank of America POPS Series for Virtual Reality in Concert: Music Illustrated. The Austin-based visual artist will use Google’s Tilt Brush to create real-time 3D images choreographed to the music. The program will include Symphony favorites like Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune and Alexander Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances,” and the pieces Sipes says he is most excited for, “Sicilienne from Gabriel Fauré’s Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande and Danse bacchanale from Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns.” You can purchase a $20 ticket for Saturday’s livestream here, and no special equipment (VR headset or special glasses) required.

Axiom Quartet will debut their latest digital project this Sunday, February 14, titled “Love, Death, Murder and a String Quartet,” or Garrop: Demons and Angels in Three Parts. During their first streaming performance of the year, Axiom will tackle composer Stacy Garrop’s String Quartet No. 2 (Demons and Angels) about an ex-boyfriend who, following their break up, struggled with mental illness, founded a cult, and murdered multiple people. But don’t let the attention-grabbing inspiration fool you; Garrop herself once called the piece “the strongest in dramatics and form” in her “whole catalog.” You can watch the premiere of the first video at 5 p.m. Sunday on Facebook. The three-part project then continues on February 21 and 28.

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