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Best Virtual Bets: Altered Books, Diverse-City, and Dance

DACAMERA will premiere its original production of Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l'Amen during their opening weekend this Saturday.EXPAND
DACAMERA will premiere its original production of Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l'Amen during their opening weekend this Saturday.
Photo by Ben Doyle

Welcome to October! For the first week of a new month, we have gathered a list of some interesting virtual activities for you to partake in as we patiently await Halloween and the cold fronts we’re told are coming around the corner. With music, dance, visual art and even some arts and crafts to get your hands dirty, we think we’ve got a little something for everyone.

Fresh off their musical journey though Latin America in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Apollo Chamber Players’ 20x2020 Virtual Festival continues tonight, Thursday, October 1, at 7 o'clock. A simple suggestion of doing something Irish by one of the eventual underwriters of the work featured in tonight’s episode was the genesis of said work, What is the Word, by composers Christopher Theofanidis and Mark Wingate. Based on Samuel Beckett’s poem of the same name and written for string quartet, the ensemble interacts with the digital playback of a woman (Maura Hooper) reciting the poem during the piece.

Episode 12, premiering Sunday, October 4, at 7 p.m. will feature composer Chitravina N. Ravikiran’s Cosmic Knowledge and A Mouthful of Universe with some special guests: Houston Symphony Principal Robin Kesselman (double bass), Erode Nagaraj (mridangam), and dancers from Silambam Houston. Remember, new episodes – all free – will continue to premiere every Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m. on Apollo Chamber Players’ YouTube and Facebook pages through November 1.

If you’ve missed the Virtual Open Studio offerings from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, you've missed some high-quality crafting on Saturday afternoons. That’s because every first Saturday of the month CAMH gets artsy: ATC-making (that’s artist trading cards), journal making; and even the repurposing of VHS and cassette tapes to create a self-portrait inspired by the artists of their "Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses" exhibit. The good news is that you can catch up on these here. And this Saturday, October 3, at 2 p.m. you can join in real time for Virtual Open Studio: Altered Books. To gear up for transforming literature into a different kind of work of art, you can start gathering some books you don’t mind losing and then tune in to Virtual Open Studios on Saturday. They are released on the CAMH website and hosted over on Instagram Live. Or you can just dive in now – instructions are here.

French-born photographer Isabelle Perreau will open “Diverse-City, An Ode to Houston” at Archway Gallery this Saturday, October 3, at 6:30 p.m. with a virtual opening and artist talk. Perreau describes the exhibit as “a love letter to Houston – a ‘photographic ode’” based on her 20 years of getting to know and appreciate the city, which – for a world traveler like Perreau – wasn’t all that impressive on first sight. You can join the virtual opening and artist talk through the Archway Gallery website or Facebook Live, and you can also experience the exhibit, which will be on view through November 5, on the Archway Gallery website.

DACAMERA opens their 2020-2021 season this weekend with an entire lineup of virtual performances. First up, this Friday, October 2, at 7 p.m. DACAMERA will livestream a wide-ranging offering of chamber music that travels across genres, including the jazzy stylings of pianist (and Houston’s own) James Francies and Cuban percussionist Pedrito Martinez; Bach from cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton; “a kind of sonic hug” when flutist Claire Chase performs Marcos Balter’s Echo, a work for flute and electronics; and much more. DACAMERA’s Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg will host the livestream, and the virtual opening night will also see the release of their full season lineup, which will feature a mix of livestreams, concert premieres from the DACAMERA archive with new introductions, and live concerts.

Opening weekend will continue Saturday, October 3, at 7 p.m. when DACAMERA premieres its original production of Olivier Messiaen’s Visions de l'Amen – straight from the archives. Composed in 1943 for two pianos, the work – called “kaleidoscopically majestic and mystical” by The New York Times – was performed by Rothenberg and Marilyn Nonken and recorded in 2015 with lighting designs by two-time Tony winner Jennifer Tipton. Both events are free, but registration is required.

Pianist George Li joins the Houston Symphony to perform Joseph Haydn’s best remembered piano concerto, Piano Concerto No. 11, on Saturday.EXPAND
Pianist George Li joins the Houston Symphony to perform Joseph Haydn’s best remembered piano concerto, Piano Concerto No. 11, on Saturday.
Photo by Simon Fowler

Pianist George Li joins the Houston Symphony this weekend for Live from Jones Hall: Clyne, Haydn & Dvorák. On the program is Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, a piece written in memory of Clyne’s mother that’s been said to not only have “a perfectly sculpted tension, a somber beauty, and an inner radiance” but “the feel of wholesome traditional British string music enlivened by a new spirit.” Joseph Haydn’s best remembered piano concerto, Piano Concerto No. 11, “a work of the composer’s maturity, with strikingly dramatic contrasts, an expressive slow movement and an infectious Hungarian Rondo” is also on the program, which will conclude with Antonín Dvorák’s Serenade in D minor. On Saturday, October 3, at 8 p.m. the program will be livestreamed straight from Jones Hall. For $20, you get a ticket to the concert and to a live Prelude discussion with musical ambassador Carlos Andrés Botero on Zoom to learn more about the program.

Axiom Quartet will present their first digital offering this Sunday, October 4, at 5 p.m. when the string ensemble takes to Facebook Live for Beethoven Op. 18 No. 5 in Four Parts (Part 1). While Beethoven always seems a good choice, they’ll actually be exploring Beethoven’s celebratory fifth string quartet though the lens of their season’s theme, “Hindsight,” paying particular attention to both the obvious homage paid within the piece to Mozart and the ways it went on to influence the genre. Really, the similarities to Mozart’s K.464 quartet are striking, a piece that supposedly elicited high praise from Beethoven: “That’s a work! That’s where Mozart said to the world: Behold what I might have done for you if the time were right!” As the title indicates, this is part one of four, featuring the first movement. The free series will continue on October 4, October 11, October 18, and October 25.

Dance Source Houston hosts Mind the Gap 16 this Monday, October 5, at 7 p.m. – but this time instead of trekking over to The MATCH, where you’ve been able to catch the last 15 (!) installments, you can join from cyberspace. The program will include five original works from five local choreographers: Joshua Eguia, Ke’Ron Wilson, Paty Solórzano, Emalie Thok and Karen Imas. Each performance will be coming to you straight from their homes to YouTube. And after the show, you can open up Zoom for an artist talkback. Tickets are available here on a sliding price scale.

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