Best Bets: Malcolm X JazzArts fest, ‘Galileo’ musical, ‘Cinderella’ ballet, SF Symphony Youth Orchestra, two-piano recital  

Freebie of the week: It’s free, so you know the annual Malcolm X JazzArts Festival is a good bargain. And it brings a lot of talent to the table. Running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio Park, 18th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, in Oakland, the fest serves up a wide variety of dance and jazz musicians the whole day. The Jazz Stage offers Kev Choice and Marcus Shelby and others in “The Evolution of Jazz to Hip-Hop,” along with Prospect Band, Camellia Boutros Band, Valerie Troutt and Joyce Lee Quintet, and more.

The Katherine Dunham Dance Stage serves up Duniya Dance and Drum Company, Arenas Dance Company and Rara Tou Limen Haitian Dance Company. The Javad Jahi Soapbox Stage offers a variety of speakers; another stage features a steady supply of DJ music; and there’s also live painting, artists’ demonstrations, writers’ and authors’ booths and “Black book battles.” All that and plenty of food and drink, arts and crafts and kids’ attractions. Heck, they had us at Kev Choice and Marcus Shelby. The festival is sponsored by the Eastside Arts Alliance, which fosters artistic opportunities for African Americans. For more information, go to

New Ballet dancers Alysa Reinhardt and Jack Concordia star in the company’s production of “Cinderella” on May 18-19 in San Jose. (Courtesy Chris Hardy/New Ballet) 

New Ballet stages an old favorite: Each spring, San Jose-based New Ballet presents a full-length classical story production, and they don’t come much more classic than “Cinderella,” the 1945 standard-bearer created by the legendary Rostislav Zakharov and set to the iconic score by Sergei Prokofiev. With its lush scenery and costumes, happily-ever-after storyline and humor, “Cinderella” has long been one of ballet’s most popular works. This production will be staged by New Ballet founder and executive director Dalia Rawson, who says the fun and family-friendly aspects of the work make it right for now. Prokofiev’s beloved music will be performed live by an orchestra conducted by Thomas Shoebotham. Performances are 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose. The late show Saturday has been established as LGBTQ+ night, and Sunday’s early “My First Ballet ” performance–an hour with no intermission–is aimed at very young dance fans and their parents. Tickets are $19-$100 ($12.50-$65 for the early Sunday show). Purchaser of $100 VIP tickets will get to meet with dancers after the performance. More information is at

Raul Esparza stars as famed astronomer Galileo Galilei in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s premiere of “Galileo: A Rock Musical.” (Courtesy Kevin Berne/Berkeley Rep)

Galileo rocks out: His full name was Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei, but perhaps folks even back in the 1600s understood that you’re not likely to get a musical written about when you’re lugging around a mouthful of a moniker like that. So he became better known as Galileo Galilei – which sounds like a “Sesame Street” song – or, in the manner of modern pop stars, simply Galileo. He was among the most important scientists of his time and not least among his accomplishment in the fields of astronomy, physics and engineering was his early championing of Copernican heliocentrism, the oft-unpopular notion developed by Copernicus that planets revolved around the Sun, not the Earth. The theory put its proponents, including Galileo, at loggerheads with powerful religious leaders, which is what a new musical at Berkeley Repertory Theatre is centering on. The Broadway-bound work features a book by Danny Strong and songs and lyrics by Michael Weiner and Zoe Sarnak, and is directed by Broadway hitmaker Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening” “American Idiot”). It stars Raul Esparza, who has been in everything from the “Company” revival on Broadway to TV’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as the fearless scientist. “Galileo: A Rock Musical” runs through June 23 at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre; tickets start at $22.50; go to

Conductor Daniel Stewart will lead his final performance with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra on May 19 in Davies Hall. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen)

A symphonic swan song: Daniel Stewart, the Wattis Foundation music director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra for five years, — he was a member in his own recent youth — is bowing out Sunday afternoon with a concert featuring a great masterpiece, the Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Gustav Mahler.  The magnificent, five-movement work comprises the entire program Stewart will lead young musicians through in Davies Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday. It’s a challenging piece for any orchestra, but this group of young artists ages 12 through 21 from all over the Bay Area has tackled many impressive works under Stewart’s baton before, including Beethoven’s Fifth, Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du printemps” and Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” In April, the SFSYO members had a chance to prepare the Mahler in side-by-side rehearsals with members of the San Francisco Symphony. Meanwhile, Stewart, who has conducting credits with the St. Louis Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera, will continue his music directorship with the Santa Cruz Symphony. His SFSYO replacement will be announced in June. Tickets for Sunday’s concert are $20-$25, available through

Sarah Cahill, left, teams up with Regina Myers on May 18 for a four-hands, two-piano recital in Oakland. (Courtesy Miranda Sanborn) 

Doubling up: Two well-known Bay Area pianists, both champions of new music, team up Saturday at 7 p.m. for a two-piano, four-hands recital sponsored by New Performance Traditions at the Dresher Ensemble Studio, at 2201 Poplar St., Oakland. Berkeley-based Sarah Cahill, a recording artist and radio host renowned for her relentless pursuit, via commissions, for new music for the piano, will play alongside solo artist and founder of the New Keys ensemble Regina Myers in a program of music by Hanna Kulenty, Billy Strayhorn, Mamoru Fujieda, Eleanor Alberga, Colin McPhee and Riley Nicholson, who will be on hand to talk about his new four-movement work, “Up.” Find tickets, $20, at

The post Best Bets: Malcolm X JazzArts fest, ‘Galileo’ musical, ‘Cinderella’ ballet, SF Symphony Youth Orchestra, two-piano recital   appeared first on Local News Matters.

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