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The Friday Five for Nov. 8
FAQ, Nick Sanborn, La Traviata and the "Composer Institute."

Sometimes playwright Steve Martin

Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Soulstice Theatre

Why? Because “Wild and Crazy Guy” Steve Martin’s move toward Renaissance Manhood started with this 1993 play, which looks at two great minds of the 20th century on the verge of a Great Idea. On October 8, 1904, Picasso is about to pain the Modernist landmark, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Albert Einstein is working on this “E=mc squared” thing. They meet in a Paris bar, and talk about genius, art, all kinds of good stuff. It’s smart. It’s funny. And it’s not above a Martin-style outrageous pun.

Francesco Lecce-Chong

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’ “Composer Institute” at UWM’s Zelazo Center

Why? Because it’s a first. The MSO solicited new works from young composers (age 18-35) from around the world, and selected five to showcase as part of this concert. We haven’t heard any of them, but judging from the titles, young composers these days aren’t satisfied with the boring nomenclature of old—Symphony No. 3 in B-flat minor, etc. Here, the pieces have intriguing titles like Dollhouse (by Molly Joyce), signals of half-occulted senses (by Joseph Andrew Lake), and How the Solar System Was Won (Matthew Browne). Francesco Lecce-Chong conducts.

Fine Arts Quartet

The Fine Arts Quartet at UWM’s Zelazo Center

Why? Because Beethoven’s your game, and you reveled in the last FAQ outing, which featured two of Ludwig Van’s string quartets. This time, it’s a triple play. Or perhaps a double play plus. After warming up with an early Beethoven quartet, the quartet will tackle the Opus 130 quartet, including the towering final movement (the Grosse Fugue), which is usually played on its own. And you thought marathon season was over.

Nick Sanborn (photo by Kat Schleicher)

Nick Sanborn: Lend Me Your Voice at Alverno Presents

Why? Because you remember Nick Sanborn. And you maybe even miss Nick Sanborn, now that he has left Milwaukee for the greener, warmer pastures of North Carolina. But never fear. Sanborn returns to town with a storytelling-concert performance that explores the collaborative process—specifically how a being a frequent “side man” shapes your personality, musical and otherwise. To tell his stories, Sanborn brings along several of his frequent collaborators, including Brad Cook of Megafaun, Amelia Meath of Mountain Man, and others.

Elizabeth Caballero

Florentine Opera’s La Traviata at the Marcus Center

Why? Because the Florentine is celebrating its 80th year with a season of classics, starting with one of the great romantic operas ever written, Verdi’s La Traviata. Go because you want to wish Giuseppe a happy 200th birthday. Go because you want to want to hum along (quietly please) to the most famous of all brindisi. And go to hear Violetta sung by Cuban soprano Elizabeth Caballero, who has sung major roles with the (now sadly defunct) New York City Opera. And don’t forget your handkerchiefs.

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