#5: Milwaukee Symphony Pops and Cherish the Ladies at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because you’ve seen a few decades of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and your idea of honoring the homeland of William Butler Yeats, Sinead O’Connor and Oscar Wilde no longer involves cheap beer, food coloring and breakfast. Instead, why not tap your shillelaghs along to the rhythms of Cherish the Ladies, who will play a roster of Irish standards along with the Milwaukee Symphony, conducted by Michael Krajewski. Yes, we know. But on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, everyone’s Irish.
#4: Early Music Now presents East of the River at the Zelazo Center.
Why? Because we’re not sure which river they are talking about, but this quartet is definitely east of it. That’s because its current specialty is the music of The Levant. Its latest CD, Levantera, features medieval music from Greece, the Balkans, Turkey and elsewhere. Nina Stern and Daphna Mor, the core members of the group, are two of the most acclaimed recorder players in the world. They are joined by percussionist Shane Shanahan, violinist Jesse Kotansky, and Tamer Pinarbasi, who plays the Turkish kanun, a variety of autoharp.
#3: Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Why? Because the Milwaukee Rep has assembled an impressive quintet of performers to honor the ebullient music of Fats Waller and the musicians of the 1920s and ‘30s who performed it in places like Harlem’s Cotton Club. Over the years, this show has launched the careers of folks like Irene Cara, Nell Carter, Andre DeShields, and Debbie Allen. The Rep’s usual music director, Dan Kazemi, is at the helm. And the cast is drawn from far and wide. It’s a show with lots of fun and games, but be prepared for the dark punch-in-the-stomach power of Waller’s great lament, “Black and Blue.”
#2: LeeSaar The Company at Alverno Presents.
Why? Because it may not have a name that rolls off the tongue, but this all-female company—founded by Israeli dancers Lee Sher and Saar Harari—has earned ovations and critical acclaim for its recent work, particularly for Grass and Jackals, which was commissioned this year by the American Dance Festival. They work in the choreographic language known as Gaga, developed by fellow Israeli Ohad Naharin. And by all reports it’s filled with powerful energy and surprising, eruptive gestures. Dance fans won’t want to miss it.
#1: Hydrogen Jukebox at Skylight Theatre.
Why? Because it’s one of the curiosities of the music world, a seldom performed collaboration between Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg. And it’s one of the most unusual projects ever staged by the Skylight. It premiered almost 25 years ago, and is scored for Glass’s familiar electronic-acoustic ensemble, providing the arpeggios behind some lovely vocal writing. The title is from Ginsberg’s “Howl,” and the songs are based on poems and sung by six characters who represent everyday Americans. Skylight Artistic Director Viswa Subbaraman conducts the ensemble.