With National Hispanic Heritage Month kicking off September 15, Mexican Independence Day being celebrated on September 16, and key performances planned at some of our favorite venues around town, the months ahead give Houstonians the opportunity to experience and share the rich traditions found in Latin culture.
On a busy street in the Heights, Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery stands as a cultural pillar in the community, offering books, paper flowers, jewelry, oilcloth fabrics, and workshops that preserve cultural traditions while also introducing them to new audiences. Casa Ramirez honors Hispanic Heritage Month with a new art exhibit, "Nuestra Cultura Art and Culture," featuring paintings, sculpture and crafts by regional artists.
The "Nuestra Cultura Art and Culture" exhibit is scheduled for September 12-29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays at Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, 241 West 19th. For information, call 713-880-2420 or visit casaramirez.com. Free.
Explore the heritage of Mexico this Friday night with a showcase of more than 50 touring performers in México en el Corazón (Mexico in the Heart). Univision 45 Anchor Marlene Guzman emcees the event, which is presented in Houston by the North American Institute for Mexican Advancement, El Consejo Nacional de Federaciones Jaliscienses de Estados Unidos, and the government of Guadalajara, and includes a live enactment of "El Grito de la Independencia." Our advice? Come early and come hungry, because The Grove's happy hour features specials on classic and pomegranate margaritas, pork belly nachos, tuna tartare tacos, and chips and salsa; that's from 4-7 p.m. Plus the mariachi performers from Kinder HSPVA and the ballet folklórico troupe Nueva Luna are set for pre-show entertainment at 6:30 p.m.
México en el Corazón is scheduled for September 13 from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/mexicoenelcorazon or facebook.com/events/2311938212390594. Free.
Spanish actress Mariaca Semprún takes on the voice and melodies of Édith Piaf, who began her career singing in the streets of Paris and eventually became one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century. For Piaf, voz y delirio (Piaf, voice and delirium), Venezuelan writer Leonardo Padrón has interwoven Piaf's music in a captivating story that preserves the chanteuse's songs and history in French while also delivering her message of having no regrets. A través de las canciones más emblemáticas de Edith Piaf, daremos un paseo por lo que fue su vida. Experimentaremos cómo una mujer frágil que comenzó a ganarse la vida cantando en las calles de la clase trabajadora de París se convirtió en una leyenda musical.
Performances of Piaf, voz y delirio are scheduled for September 13-14 at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash Road, Stafford. For information, call 281-208-6900 or visit staffordcentre.com. $50 to $120.
The design for the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health definitely calls for "thinking outside the box," and this Friday architecture buffs can learn more about the Las Vegas project when the lead project designer tells us how skepticism soon turned to excitement after meeting philanthropist Lou Ruvo, a senior managing partner of Southern Wines and Spirits whose own father succumbed to Alzheimer's. Brian Zamora, senior associate at Gehry Partners, is one of the speakers on deck for Latinos in Architecture of Houston: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage – Architecture, Art, Cuisine, Music, and Language. Part of AIA Houston (the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects), the committee's forum also calls for networking opportunities, appetizers, and live music. Participating forum panelists include Silvia Chicas of Antena Houston, who works at the intersection of language justice and language experimentation, and artist Luisa Duarte, who draws on her upbringing in Venezuela where she was exposed to contemporary non-figurative art.
The Latinos in Architecture of Houston forum is scheduled for September 13 from 3:30-9 p.m. Friday at Kirksey Architecture, 6909 Portwest. For information, call 713-520-0155 or visit aiahouston.org. $5 to $35.
Miller Outdoor Theatre is celebrating Mexican Independence Day with El Grito, featuring Mexican singer Antonio Aguilar hijo (Antonio Aguilar, Jr.) in a rousing ranchera concert that will draw from his lifelong passion for music — his father was an iconic singer, actor and music pioneer — as well as from his own four albums. Opening for Aguilar is telenovela star Sandra Echeverría who sang the theme song for La Fuerza del Destino along with Marc Anthony, and who also did a song with Enrique Iglesias and Marco Antonio Solis for El Perdedor. Her film career includes appearances in Oliver Stone’s Salvajes (with Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta) and Casa de Mi Padre (with Will Ferrell); her first solo album comes out this year.
El Grito is scheduled for September 15 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.
For music lovers, there's nothing more exciting than discovering a new sound. Venezuelan composer and band leader Aldemaro Romero is recognized as the brainchild behind onda nueva, a new musical style that fuses the fandango-esque joropo with Brazilian bossa nova, and mixes in a few other eclectic styles. Aperio, Music of the Americas kicks off its program year with Onda Nueva — Contemporary Currents in Latin-American Music, featuring Romero's Suite for cello and piano. Also on the program is Afro, Danzon, Preludio y Merengue by Cuba's Paquito D'Rivera, impressionistic songs by Emilio Vicente de Sojo, pop/folk music by Paul Desenne, and Robert Avalon’s homage to Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos.
Onda Nueva — Contemporary Currents in Latin-American Music is scheduled for September 15 at 6 p.m. Sunday at MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit aperioamericas.org/tickets-ondanueva or matchouston.org/events/2019/onda-nueva. $15 to $35.
They had us at gratis, or free, but Houston Symphony's Fiesta Sinfónica is so much more. The annual event celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and this year's Cuban-inspired concert features Mexican soprano Yunuet Laguna and Portuguese-American conductor Jacomo Bairos, who serves as music director of the Amarillo Symphony and artistic director of Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble. The program includes Gershwin's Cuban Orverture and dance-inspired works by one of Cuba’s most important 20th century composers, Ernesto Lecuona. While Houston audiences heard Laguna during Houston Grand Opera's Concert of Arias earlier this year, this will mark the soprano's debut with the Houston Symphony; she's expected to sing “¿Que te importa que no venga?” from the Spanish Zarzuela Los Claveles and “Despuis le jour” from Charpentier’s Louise.
A performance of Fiesta Sinfónica is scheduled for September 15 at 6 p.m. Sunday at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. Free.
Celebrate Mexico's Fiestas Patrias, kid-style, when the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston partners up with the Children's Museum of Houston. From Ballet Folklórico Las Américas (12:30 and 2:30 p.m.) to Mariachi Juvenil (1 and 2 p.m.) and from story time (1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m.) to a re-enactment of "Grito" at 2:15 p.m., this is the place to party this Sunday afternoon.
Fiestas Patrias is scheduled for September 15 from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Children's Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz. For information, call 713-522-1138 or visit cmhouston.org. Free to $11.
Talento Bilingüe de Houston is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month Con Sabor a Venezuela, with an opening reception for "Color y Identidad," featuring works of art by Teresa Echarry and Maria Elena Ferrer, entertainment by DJ Kike Garcia, y mas. By now most have heard the sobering news that the TBH cultural center might have to close due to lack of funds, but Latino leaders are determined to keep the doors open and organizers have met with Mayor Sylvester Turner, so there is still hope. Head out to TBH and show some love for the work they've done for our region since 1977, uniting people of diverse racial, cultural, social and economic backgrounds through performing, visual and literary arts.
"Color y Identidad" is scheduled for September 16 through October 25. The opening reception is scheduled for September 25 at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen. For information, call 713-222-1213 or visit tbhcenter.org. Free.
While we're all looking forward to the ofrendas and "Retablos32" exhibit at MECA next month, organizers are getting us ready by teaching an Anatomy of an Altar Workshop. Learn how to create a personal altar with marigolds, favorite foods, photographs and other mementos that will help us connect with our deceased loved ones and prepare for Día de los Muertos.
Workshops are scheduled for September 18 and 25 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts, 1900 Kane. For information, call 713-802-9370 or visit meca-houston.org.
Witness traditional dance with a contemporary twist when Siudy Flamenco Dance Theatre, Inc. presents an original dance and flamenco music production directed by dancer/choreographer Siudy Garrido. Set to original music by Spanish guitarist José Luis de la Paz, and with the voice of guest cantaor Manuel Gago, Flamenco Intimo is vibrant, dynamic and with a unique voice.
Performances of Flamenco Intimo are scheduled for September 21-22 at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $63.25 to $86.25.
It's nice when a star performer remembers his roots, and pianist Alejandro Vela is doing just that with the MECA Benefit Concert slated for later this month. Vela, who trained with the late Robert Avalon at MECA years ago, is returning to open the 2019-2020 season with works by Gershwin, Chopin, Liszt, Ponce and Radiohead. All proceeds from the event will benefit the organization's educational, outreach and cultural programs. Or upgrade your ticket for VIP preferred seating, a meet and greet with the artist, hors d'oeuvre and cocktails.
The Alejandro Vela MECA Benefit Concert is scheduled for September 27 at 8 p.m. Friday at Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts, 1900 Kane. For information, call 713-802-9370 or visit meca-houston.org. $25 to $45.
Oh, the stories they could tell. Choreographer and dancer Reinaldo Costa was a member of the professional company at Cuba's storied Cabaret Tropicana. Music Director Jorge "Cro-Cro" Orta has toured all over the world, including with the famous Grupo Niche. The duo are collaborating in Salsa y Salud, Texas' biggest live salsa and dance show, with a cast of more than 50, original choreography and even a few world premieres. It's presented by the Foundation for Modern Music, in collaboration with Flamart, Strictly Street Salsa and the American Heart Association — which is probably how the show got its name, which translates to Salsa and Health.
Salsa y Salud is scheduled for September 28 at 8 p.m. Saturday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.
Mark your calendars for these additional events that celebrate Latin culture in the months ahead:
September 13-15, East End Comic Fan Festival, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen, tbhcenter.org
September 21, The Catastrophe, a world premiere of a kid's show for kids by kids, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen, tbhcenter.org
October 3-5, 40th Annual Festival Chicano, Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, milleroutdoortheatre.com
October 5, 12 and 19, Día de los Muertos Class on Personal Altar Building, Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, 241 West 19th, casaramirez.com
October 10-13, Vaselina El Musical 2019, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen, tbhcenter.org
October 12-February 29, El Franco Lee rotating exhibition of paintings in the window, Mystic Lyon, 5017 Lyons, facebook.com/mysticlyonhtx
October 17, Ben Desoto, For Art's Sake (film screening), Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen, tbhcenter.org
October 18, The Day of the Hispanic World – Día de la Hispanidad, Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, milleroutdoortheatre.com
October 19, Lunada, The Night of the Full Moon, Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, milleroutdoortheatre.com
October 20, Unplugged at Discovery Green featuring Los Guerreros de la Musica, Sparky Parker Band, Allen Hill, Wendy Elizabeth Jones and Forever Miles, Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, discoverygreen.com/1619842
October 20, Las Cafeteras in Concert, University of Houston Clear Lake, Bayou Theater, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard, uhcl.edu/bayou-theater
October 25, "Retablos32" Exhibition Opening and Blessing of the Altars, Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts, 1900 Kane, meca-houston.org
October 26, Día de los Muertos Procession and Exhibit Reception, Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, 241 West 19th, casaramirez.com
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October 27, Talento Bilingüe de Houston's Día de los Muertos Festival, Guadalupe Plaza Park, 2311 Runnels, tbhcenter.org
November 1, Xfinity Día de los Muertos, Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, discoverygreen.com/diadelosmuertos
November 2-3, Día de los Muertos Festival, Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts, 1900 Kane, meca-houston.org
November 8, "Retablos32," Noche de Retablos, Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts, 1900 Kane, meca-houston.org