May 2011 Event Highlights

Local arts are in full bloom this month

Art by Karla Hackenmiller at Fanny Garver Gallery

Spring is here! Does a happier sentence exist? If the sentiment makes you think of flowers, sunshine and fresh air, you’ll be glad to know there’s music to match the mood this month.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with the New Horizons Concert Band at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (May 8, olbrich.org). The band, which boasts more than sixty members, plays classical tunes, Broadway hits, movie themes and more; after the concert, enjoy Olbrich’s tulip beds
and gardens.

Find flower power in Oakwood Chamber PlayersGarden Gateway concert (May 21–22, oakwoodchamberplayers.com) featuring Fine’s “Lilacs” for flute, clarinet, cello and piano; Stravinsky’s “Septet” for mixed instruments and piano; and Kodaly’s “Trio” for strings. Or ring in the season with Madison Area Concert Handbells’ spring concert Americana Celebration (May 1 and 7, madisonhandbells.org) featuring folk songs, spirituals, hymns, Broadway hits, patriotic works and big band tunes—all played by bells.

It’s That Time Again

For plenty of Madisonians, Memorial Day weekend means one thing: Brat Fest! The World’s Largest Brat Fest (May 27–30, bratfest.com) is food-focused, of course, with sales of brats, hot dogs and veggie brats benefiting local charities. But it’s also packed with entertainment, from more than two hundred acts performing on four stages to a fireworks show on May 29. The weekend also brings another annual highlight, StageQ’s Queer Shorts (May 27–June 4, stageq.com). It’s the sixth year of the playfest, which stages a dozen shorts in a single night at the Bartell.

Now’s Your Chance

If you missed Madison Theatre Guild’s production of Souvenir last season, be sure to catch this encore performance (May 6–21, madisontheatreguild.org). The heartfelt comedy tells the story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a real-life, tone-deaf socialite who considered herself a talented soprano. Her accompanist Cosme McMoon chronicles Jenkins’s rise to a Carnegie Hall performance in 1944. This month also brings the opportunity to experience Les Miserables (shown above) anew—whether you’re a longtime fan or have never seen the legendary musical. The new twenty-fifth-anniversary production that visits Overture Center (May 10–15, overturecenter.com) brings fresh staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. What remains are the original’s powerful music and story about residents of early nineteenth century France struggling for revolution.

You Be the Judge

Humankind, nature and technology are constantly mixing and morphing, simultaneously easing and creating problems. Three new exhibitions delve into the complexities of these relationships. Picturing Technology: Land and Machine (May 21–August 21, mmoca.org) pulls from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s permanent collection to offer paintings, prints, photographs and installations showing society’s responses to airplanes, trains, ships, guns and more.

At Grace Chosy Gallery, new paintings by Randall Berndt and Charles Munch (shown above) (May 6–28, gracechosygallery.com) reveal the artists’ continued interest in man’s relationship with the natural world. At times it’s harmonious, as when Berndt’s farmer tends to crops; other instances are dangerous, such as when humans, beasts and animals attack one another in works by Munch. And Fanny Garver Gallery presents the latest etchings by printmakers Art Werger and Karla Hackenmiller (May 6–31, fannygarvergallery.com). Werger’s surburban landscapes depict colorful houses in tightly organized neighborhoods—but the viewer is left to judge the arrangement. In contrast, Hackenmiller’s finely detailed, over-lapping forms call to mind organic growth and subtle movement.

Sounds Cool

The Orpheum Theatre hosts Cake (May 13, orpheumtheatre.net), the socially conscious alternative rockers from Sacramento whose sound began creating buzz in the ’90s. The band’s on tour after releasing Showroom of Compassion in January, an album produced with solar-generated electricity as part of a “long-term quest for independence from old, sick infrastructure.”

And local bluegrass outfit the Cork n’ Bottle String Band hits the stage at the High Noon Saloon (May 21, high-noon.com) to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary. The popular six-member band, named after an East Johnson liquor store, often plays the Memorial Union, the Frequency and the High Noon.

Ending on a High Note

The curtain goes down this month on the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s eighty-fifth season, but not before its Season Finale with Mozart & Mahler (May 6–8, madisonsymphony.org). The concert features principal flute Stephanie Jutt and principal harp Karen Beth Atz in “Mozart’s Concerto for Flute & Orchestra,” while Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection)” highlights soprano Julia Faulkner, mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck and the Madison Symphony Chorus.

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. Find more arts and entertainment coverage in profiles and the Liberal Arts column.

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