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Best Virtual Bets: Art Heist, Beethoven, and Crazy Rich Asians

ROCO's Brass Quintet will tackle a program that includes jazz standards and the Beatles during ROCO Unchambered: Blackbird.EXPAND
ROCO's Brass Quintet will tackle a program that includes jazz standards and the Beatles during ROCO Unchambered: Blackbird.
Photo by Blueprint Film Co
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For those of us who still believe in taking public health and safety precautions, let us present to you this week’s list of best virtual bets. Each one you can either enjoy from the comfort of your home or, for those who’d like to get out of the house responsibly, outdoors and socially distanced.

Join Aperio and resident conductor Marlon Chen on Friday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. for The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The title may already remind you of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but the piece, a collection of four tangos by nuevo tango master Astor Piazzolla, actually wasn’t written with the intent to parallel the famous work. Subsequent musicians connected the dots, and Aperio along with violinist Chloé Trevor will present an arrangement by composer Leonid Desyatnikov, which “unequivocally” links them together. You can view the livestream, also featuring a performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No. 4: I. Preludio (Introdução) on Friday or watch it on-demand through March 12. You can get a free general access ticket here.

So, if you are itching to get out of the house, you can go to the lawn at Asia Society Texas Center this Friday, March 5, at 8 p.m. to watch a screening of the hit film Crazy Rich Asians from the socially distanced comfort of your own “lawn pod” – an eight-foot circle that fits up to four people. Bring a lawn chair, blanket, and food, or you can also purchase a Popcorn and Candy Package to complete the experience. Asia Society members can get their own pod for $30, nonmembers for $40, and either can get Popcorn and Candy Packages (which serve two) for $10 each. Asia Society plans to continue presenting Asian and Asian American films on the lawn through June, including Enter the Dragon, To Be Takei, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

ROCO’s Unchambered series ends this Saturday, March 6, at 5 p.m. with a program of works for brass during ROCO Unchambered: Blackbird. ROCO’s brass quintet will play Jonathan Bailey Holland’s Introit; three jazz compositions by Bix Beiderbecke and one from Fats Waller; and Joan Tower’s Copperwave, informed by her father’s job as a mining engineer and the nine years her family lived in Latin America. The titular blackbird can be found in both Robert Dennis’s “highly effective tone paintingBlackbird Variations, based on a Wallace Stevens poem, and Seb Skelly’s arrangement of the Beatles classic “Blackbird,” a song described as “an utterly sumptuous effort and arguably one of Paul McCartney’s finest hours.” You can tune in to the free concert here or here.

Conductor Fabien Gabel returns to lead the Houston Symphony in Beethoven's Pastoral Plus Bronfman.
Conductor Fabien Gabel returns to lead the Houston Symphony in Beethoven's Pastoral Plus Bronfman.
Photo by Steìphane Bourgeois

Ludwig van Beethoven loved walks through the Vienna countryside. If you’re looking for proof, look no further than the composer’s Sixth Symphony. The work is one of only two that the Beethoven himself gave a title to, and quite the title it is: “Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life.” Conductor Fabien Gabel will lead the Houston Symphony in Beethoven’s “expression of nature,” along with Stella Sung’s Fanfare and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman, during Beethoven’s Pastoral Plus Bronfman this Saturday, March 6, at 8 p.m. You can purchase a ticket for $20 to watch the virtual concert, which is also part of the French Cultures Festival, here.

This Sunday, March 7, at 5 p.m. the 40th anniversary Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series continues when writer Jim Shepard leads a conversation with Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro will read from his new novel, Klara and the Sun, written from the perspective of an AF (artificial friend) of a sickly young woman. Though mostly completed before lockdown, The Guardian says it “feels like a message for all of us as we go about our drearily circumscribed days,” as it’s “energised by the friction between two different types of love: one that is selfish, overprotective and anxious, and one that is generous, open and benevolent.” You can purchase a ticket to the livestream for $30, which includes a hardcover copy of the book for U.S. residents.

He’s one of the greats, so don’t be surprised to see Beethoven appear for the second time on this week’s list. This Sunday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m. Third Space Music, a collection of musicians from both the Houston Symphony and the local community, will perform live from the Steinway Piano Gallery of Houston. The musicians will play the “sublime tenderness” of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 10 in G Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 96, and Ernst Von Dohnányi’s Quintet No. 1 in C minor for Piano and Strings, Op. 1. Tickets to the virtual concert start at $25 for basic access, but if you’re feeling giving (all proceeds going to MECA), you can purchase higher priced tickets, which come with access to a virtual panel discussion and two Third Space Music wine glasses.

DACAMERA will present an archival performance from the Elias String Quartet followed by a conversation with composer Sally Beamish.EXPAND
DACAMERA will present an archival performance from the Elias String Quartet followed by a conversation with composer Sally Beamish.
Photo by Ben Doyle

On Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. DACAMERA will premiere an archival performance from the “nimble and wonderfully sweet-tonedElias String Quartet. The recording includes the U.S. premiere of composer Sally Beamish’s String Quartet No. 4, “Nine Fragments,” from 2019. The “inventive” nine-movement piece uses Robert Schumann’s Quartet in A Minor, Op. 41, No. 1 (which the Quartet will also play), as a “launching pad for its own musical explorations” and incorporates motifs such as high-A’s symbolizing the tinnitus that afflicted Schumann and a viola representative of Clara Schumann’s voice. Following the two works, you can enjoy an arrangement of Scottish folk tunes as an encore, and following the encore, you can join DACAMERA Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg in conversation with Beamish. You can register for the free event here.

If you’re still in the mood to get out of the house safely, check out our second socially distanced recommendation, this one presented by Society for the Performing Arts – Art Heist: A True Crime Walking Experience. Get a ticket and get yourself to the Wings Over Water sculpture over at George R. Brown Convention Center to join the outdoor walking theater experience, which asks you to play detective to solve a – you guessed it – art heist. Tickets to the socially distanced, fun-for-the-whole-family outing can be purchased here for $39.50 to $44.50 each. Though it opens Tuesday, March 9, note that some dates are already selling out. If you’re interested, you’ll want to snap up tickets for one of the remaining shows before Art Heist closes on March 28.

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