February 2013 Event Highlights
Another thrilling month filled with concerts, plays, exhibitions and more
February 16–April 28
As the Great Depression took its toll on Americans, President Franklin Roosevelt promised them a “new deal” of government programs, including the Public Works of Art Project. The program employed thousands of artists who painted portraits, cityscapes, rural landscapes and other regional subjects, documenting both the realities of the time as well as the public’s hopes for a better future. 1934: A New Deal for Artists showcases fifty-six paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of art from the project, presented at the Chazen Museum of Art. chazen.wisc.edu
San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green is a five-piece rock band with an adventurous spirit and sound. Eclectic and open to experimentation, the group travels this month to the Majestic Theatre for a show sure to prove that you’ve got to hear this jam band live. majesticmadison.com
January 19–March 31
Color as the subject—not a compelling component—of art is the fascinating focus of The Force of Color, an exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Running in conjunction with a collection of prints by famed minimalist artist Ellsworth Kelly, this show explores the role of color in the abstract art of the 1960s through twenty-six works by twenty-three artists, among them Gene Davis, Sol LeWitt, Bridget Riley and Frank Stella. mmoca.org
Voice of Africa
Known simply as “The Voice” in his native South Africa, Vusi Mahlasela is a singer, songwriter, poet and activist who was asked to perform at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. His powerful, optimistic songs about revolution, life and love have continued into his most recent release, Say Africa. Hear him live in a concert at The Sett at the Union South. uniontheater.wisc.edu
Follow the Light
Offering a sense of light in a time of winter darkness, Kanopy Dance’s Yggdrasil features five works: a fantastical rendition of the Norse tree of life myth, a romantic work, a piece inspired by a mystic’s “shining light,” a blend of modern and flamenco dance and an excerpt from Martha Graham’s iconic Appalachian Spring. kanopydance.org
Love and loyalty are tested in West Side Story, the acclaimed musical that’s more than fifty years strong and playing this month at Overture Center. Tony and Maria hail from different sides of New York’s West End but find romance amid the growing gang violence in this contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The musical’s innovative choreography is as well known as its Bernstein and Sondheim score, featuring such hits as “Something’s Coming,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.” overturecenter.com
Feel the Love
Show your love for the Hometown Sweethearts in a special Valentine’s Day show at the High Noon Saloon. The Madison “party band” is known for its impressive repertoire of nearly four hundred songs—from Jackson Five to Johnny Cash to Madonna, plus their own tunes. Guitarist Waylan Daniel says to expect original cuts from their 2012 self-titled album “alongside our usual helping of cherry-picked dance covers.” high-noon.com
Not All Fun and Games
In Circle Mirror Transformation, presented by Mercury Players Theatre, four New Englanders enroll in a six-week community-center drama class. But they soon discover the seemingly harmless theater games and exercises are anything but. mercuryplayerstheatre.com
Led by a Vision
February 22–March 9
Madison Theatre Guild honors outsider artists with The Road to Mecca. Set in the 1970s in the South African Karoo, Helen is an Afrikaner widow who, after having a vision, begins decorating the walls of her home with broken glass and filling her garden with cement sculptures—all pointed east toward Mecca. madisontheatreguild.org
February 8–March 7
Delve into the fascinating life of a famed writer, art collector and Left Bank icon in Gertrude Stein and a Companion. StageQ presents this drama relaying the relationship between Stein and Alice B. Toklas from the 1900s to the 1960s. Drawing from Stein’s own writings, the play also shows the influence she had on Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and other contemporaries in the arts. Running in repertory is The Story of My Life (February 14–March 9), a playful and touching musical following the lifelong friendship of two men. stageq.com
Local artist Dagny Quisling Myrah is known for her beautiful oil paintings of the Wisconsin landscape. But for River Ramblings at the Grace Chosy Gallery, she narrowed her focus to the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. “The bridges, the river towns and even the fishermen and canoeist provided me with plenty of subject matter,” she says. gracechosygallery.com
With Greg Hettmansberger
I can’t think of a better way to fight our way through winter than to brave the cold and warm ourselves near the footlights of some great local musicians.
Let us begin with the Oakwood Chamber Players, one of Madison’s semi-hidden musical treasures. Start your February warm-up with The Americas (February 2–3, oakwoodchamberplayers.com). The ensemble has long been noted for stimulating programs, and this lineup of works by D’Rivera, Higdon, Cervantes, Lauridsen and Dvorak offers an intriguing mix and match of winds and strings (yes, Dvorak sneaks in with his “American” Quartet). Be warned: the auditoriums are usually full, so get your tickets early.
The following weekend, John DeMain and the Madison Symphony Orchestra offer a trio of works that perhaps we don’t hear often enough: Ravel’s beguiling “Rapsodie Espagnole,” Prokofiev’s “Sinfonia Concertante” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 (February 8–10, madisonsymphony.org). The Prokofiev is essentially a cello concerto, and German star Alban Gerhardt will assay the lyricism and passion of the solo part, and the Beethoven is a work too easily overlooked.
In keeping with this month’s theme of lesser-known gems, Andrew Sewell is up to his usual tricks of mixing standard greats with “I’m glad I just heard that” selections. The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra opens its third Masterworks concert with Bach’s Suite No. 3, the “Introit” by Gerald Finzi, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and Gounod’s charming Symphony No. 2 (February 22, wcoconcerts.org). The Finzi and Prokofiev feature a soloist sure to heat up the hall, violinist Tasmin Little.
Want more classical coverage? Find Greg Hettmansberger’s Classically Speaking blog.
Katie Vaughn is managing editor of Madison Magazine. Check out her arts and entertainment blog.