Freebie of the week: There’s never a bad time to visit Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, which offers world-class art exhibitions at a world-class price (admission is free). But this weekend marks a particularly good time to visit, as an intriguing exhibit there closes after Sunday. “Beyond Here: The Judy and Sidney Zuber Collection of Latin American Photography” features 34 works by noted photographers from 10 Latin American countries chronicling what organizers describe as “profound changes of the 20th century.”
Photographs from Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Flor Garduño, Javier Silva Meinel, and Marta María Pérez Bravo are included in a compelling collection of images depicting revolution and political upheaval, urban unrest and decay, and the ever-present collision of modernization and cultural traditions. The Zuber Collection, a gift to the center, represents the beginning of a museum development of a larger acquisition of Latin American photography, but this display is on view just through the weekend.
Hours at the museum, at 328 Lomita Drive, are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Also on display is Puerto Rican artist and filmmaker Sofía Gallisá Muriente’s “Celaje (Cloudscape),” a 41-minute video that juxtaposes images from her homeland’s recent natural disaster with scenes depicting its colonial history and more current developments; as well as the permanent display “The Faces of Ruth Asawa” featuring famed masks from the San Francisco artist’s collection.
More information is at museum.stanford.edu.
When ballet is a drag: If you’re going to spoof a beloved institution in the arts world, it helps to have a technical mastery of that which you are spoofing.
The revered performers of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and their legions of devoted fans understand this. The New York-based all-male drag ballet company, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is famous for performing parodies of well-known classic and romantic dance works.
But this is no sloppy, bulldozing-through-the-classics spoof. The Trocks, as they are known, ply their satirical trade with style, grace and athleticism—and in to-die-for costumes—which makes their drag performances all the more silly and sublime. As organizers put it, “Their irreverent, deeply informed romps through the glories and excesses of the dance world continue to offer laughs for aficionados and novices alike.”
The Trocks are back at University of California, Berkeley this weekend with a program including their classic take on “Swan Lake” (Act 2) as well as such works as “Yes, Virginia, Another Piano Ballet,” “Paquita” and a modern work. Presented by Cal Performances, the Trocks perform 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Zellerbach Hall. Tickets are $37-$119. Go to calperformances.org.
Pho show: There are some hot-button topics at the center of San Francisco Playhouse’s new production of “My Home on the Moon”—artificial intelligence, gentrification, the power of a good bowl of pho. Hmong-Vietnamese playwright and animator Minna Lee’s new sci-fi play centers on a struggling Vietnamese pho restaurant that appears on the brink of closing amid vast neighborhood changes.
Then a mysterious marketing expert steps in and suddenly the restaurant is kicking butt and taking names. But looks, of course, can be deceiving, especially nowadays when artificial intelligence and doings in the metaverse can render reality as useless as a flimsy banh mi. So the restaurant’s owner embarks on an otherworldly adventure to see if she can make things right—or at least make sense.
“Home on the Moon” is getting its world premiere after emerging as finalist for the 2024 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and semi-finalist for the Ashland New Plays Festival. Directed by Mei Ann Teo, the play opens in previews on Thursday; the main run kicks off Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 24 at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post St. Tickets are $15-$100; go to www.sfplayhouse.org
A unique collaboration: Two longtime musical institutions in Berkeley are joining forces for the first time to present a concert program. Now in its 87th season, the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, an assemblage of high school and college-age players led by conductor David Ramadanoff, is the oldest independent youth orchestra in the country.
On Saturday night in the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Ave., the musicians will be joined by the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, itself an organization with a history of nearly six decades, in a performance of Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria,” featuring soprano Vuyiswa Sigadi. Also on the program, which takes place at 7:30 p.m., are Kenji Bunch’s “Supermaximum” and the first movement of the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Henry Stroud, winner of YPSO’s concerto competition.
Tickets are $20 (but free to students who are asked to register); find them at ypsomusic.org.
A centennial celebration: One of the most iconic American compositions, now entering its 100th year, will be reinterpreted by a giant in the jazz world at this weekend’s California Symphony concerts at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.
Conductor Donato Cabrera has programmed “Gershwin in New York” to feature jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his trio performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which Roberts has been riffing on, to great acclaim, in concert halls all over the country since 1995. (In fact, he and his drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Marty Jaffe just performed it three times last weekend with conductor Yannick Nézet-Seguín and the Philadelphia Orchestra.)
Also on the program, which Cabrera has fashioned to showcase major works that all received highly praised premieres in New York many years ago, are Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1 and William Dawson’s “Negro Folk Symphony,” both dating from 1934. The Dawson work, infused with traditional spirituals, was warmly embraced by critics and concertgoers at its Carnegie Hall debut but fell victim to racism and dropped out of sight until a more enlightened musical community revived it about three years ago.
Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday in the Lesher’s Hofmann Theatre. Tickets, $20-$90, are available at californiasymphony.org or by calling (925) 943-7469.