Saxophonist and composer Paquito D'Rivera is one of the few artists to conquer both classical music and Latin jazz. D'Rivera made his symphony debut before he was in his teens, went on to become a founding member of the legendary Afro-Cuban music group Irakere, was an original member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, led his own Latin jazz orchestra, appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic orchestra, and recorded with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Over his career -- now spanning some six decades -- D'Rivera has earned 11 Grammy Awards; the first was for the 1979 album Irakere, which took home the Best Latin Jazz recording award, and the latest was the 2011 release Panamericana Suite, which earned him his fourth Latin Grammy. D'Rivera comes to Houston, thanks to Da Camera, for a one-night performance on Friday with guitar duo João Luiz and Douglas Lora. The program includes music by D'Rivera as well as Jacob do Bandolim, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Astor Piazzolla.
8 p.m. Friday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $35 to $65.
In Failure: A Love Story, by Philip Dawkins (a playwright with an increasing buzz about him), the grandiose themes of love, death and the transient nature of life are tackled on a minimalist stage and in a way both practical and magical, according to Leslie Swackhamer, a professor at Sam Houston State who is once again returning to direct at Stages Repertory Theatre. Failure, one of our choices for Friday, is the story of the three Fail sisters, whose immigrant parents make it to America only to die in a car wreck in their new hometown of Chicago. Each of the daughters is loved, and lost, in turn by Mortimer Mortimer (yes, that's his name), played by David Matranga. Each daughter is distinctive and special, and all three will be played by Courtney James (previously In the Next Room...or the vibrator play along with Matranga and directed by Swackhamer). Set in the late 1920s, the play includes music of the time ("Let Me Call You Sweetheart") as well as instruments rarely seen anymore (the melodeon, the harmonium).
Despite the deaths, Swackhamer says the story is really about how people can embrace life. The play runs anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours -- they haven't quite narrowed that down yet; it'll depend in part on how many songs and dances they toss in, Swackhamer says. At a certain point, all the actors turn into clocks, she says. A gramophone is conjured up by a person blowing into a horn, while a bright green scarf becomes a parrot. "How do I do a car wreck onstage with no car? How does somebody swim across Lake Michigan onstage?" she asks. "This playwright trusts the audience and invites them to use their imagination."
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713‑527‑0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $19 to $54.
It's one of the biggest -- and best -- parties of the year: Houston Press Artopia 2014. Okay, we admit we're a little biased, but it really is a great party and it's our only choice for Saturday. The highlight of the evening is the presentation of the sixth annual Houston Press MasterMind Awards sponsored by Stella Artois to this year's three winners: photographer Chuy Benitez, dancer/choreographer jhon r. stronks and classical music ensemble the Apollo Chamber Players. They're being recognized for their talent, ingenuity and contribution to the Houston arts scene. Progressive, provocative and at the forefront of their field, each winner takes home a $2,000 no-strings-attached check. There are also several dance and music performances, a couple of fashion shows, including one by Chloe Dao, and a warehouse-wide art exhibit of more than 25 local visual artists and lots of food and drink. Get your tickets quickly (this event is expected to sell out) and check our website for information on the official afterparty. A portion of the event's proceeds benefit Houston Public Media.
8 p.m. Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter. For information, call 713-280-2400 or visit houstonpress.com. $45 to $100.
Houston audiences will see a variety of performance styles in Choreographers X6, an annual concert featuring the work of six local dance-makers that's the highlight of Houston Dance Month and one of our choices for Sunday. Among the choreographers is Hope Stone's production manager, Cori Miller, who will present her work My Rollercoaster. "It reflects life and how we are always trying to keep up with others," says Miller. The piece incorporates improvisation, speech, comedy, movement and, according to Miller, urgency. "There is a sense of urgency that I have felt throughout this process, and that urgency/panic will be present in this piece, to be sure."
Rebekah Chappell will showcase Crowded, a dance that explores the ways people in crowds react to one another. Ashley Horn presents Mark Time, a dance about a marching band gone rogue. Choreographers X6 has historically had a modern and contemporary bent, which makes Kristina Koutsoudas's entry all the more interesting. Her piece utilizes classical Persian movement and gestures along with modern dance vocabulary. Randall Flynn, artistic director of Ad Deum Dance Company, and Heather Nabors, the assistant director of dance programs at Rice University, complete the lineup.
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A pre-show screening of Motion Captured: Dance on Film begins 45 minutes before each performance. 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For information, call 713-729-3200 or visit erjcchouston.org. $24.
William B. Miller of Midtown's Trinity Episcopal Church sees no conflict in synthesizing jazz and spirituality. Since 2002, Miller has spearheaded the Trinity Jazz Festival to display not only the beauty of his house of worship but also its commitment to artistry. "Though jazz in the sacred context may be rare, it is a pairing that makes much sense -- theologically, historically and liturgically," he says on the Festival's website. "Sharing some of the same roots as indigenous gospel music, this art form is rightly at home in the sacred context." This year's lineup of musicians performing and/or teaching master classes includes pianist Pamela York and saxophonist Everette Harp on Friday, with vocal duo Mood Indigo and guitarist Eric Essix on Saturday. But for many, the festival's highlight will be the jazz mass on Sunday.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday. 1015 Holman. For information, call 713-528-4100 or visit trinityjazzfest.net. Free to $50.
Margaret Downing, Adam Castañeda and Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.