#5: Prometheus Trio at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
Why? Because WCM’s resident piano trio—Stephanie Jacob, Scott Tisdel and Timothy Klabunde—are terrific at finding music you don’t hear every day. To wit: a trio arrangement of Arnold Schoenberg’s landmark tone poem, "Verklärte Nacht," arranged by Schoenberg’s former student, Eduard Steuermann, which should highlight the atmospheric transparency of the composer’s inventive harmonies. Also on the program, a Haydn Trio and Brahms early Trio in B major, which he completed as a 20-year-old, and then rewrote it 35 years later.
#4: 1959 Pink Thunderbird at In Tandem Theatre.
Why? Because playwright James McLure was a playwright who never became a Broadway legend or a sought-after screenwriter. But his vision of a wide-open America was distinctive and wry. A native of Louisiana, he often wrote about the south. And this pair of one-act plays—Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon—each feature a trio of comic parts ripe for the picking by the actors assembled at In Tandem. Libby Amato and Matt Koester are two of the crowd, which is directed by In Tandem’s Jane and Chris Flieller.
#3: The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the Marcus Center.
Why? Because you know Rachmaninoff. You hum along quietly when you listen to that “Paganini Rhapsody,” and you try not to sing “All By Myself” when the familiar melody of the Second Piano Concerto blooms. But you don’t know Sergei like Joyce Yang knows Sergei, particularly if you don’t know the Fourth Piano Concerto, which is positively spare and modern compared with the arching melodies of the more familiar concertos. Yang returns to play the Fourth with Edo de Waart conducting, the last of the pair’s five-year collaboration on Rachmaninoff’s complete works for piano and orchestra. As in the past, the program is entirely devoted to the composer, with the Third Symphony and the symphonic poem "Prince Rostislav" also on the bill.
#2: Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.
Why? Because pianist Moran has been called one of the most creative minds working in jazz today. And he’ll show you why with this program of re-imagined classics from the mind of Fats Waller. When he premiered this event three years ago, The New York Times celebrated its loose, party atmosphere as a welcome respite from the formal, concert-hall presentations of jazz. So be prepared to swing. Be prepared to laugh (Waller, after all, was one funny songwriter). And be prepared to dance.
#1: Plugged In at Danceworks Studio.
Why? Speaking of inventive dance, the Danceworks Performance Company is on a roll. But how do you top a dazzling collaboration like last month’s Temptation’s Snare, which brought Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale into the postmodern era (with the help of Present Music’s ensemble). You collaborate again, this time with music artist Tyrone “DJ Bizzon” Miller and a group of hip-hop dancers. You also turn the Danceworks studio into a faux dance club, and turn Jason Powell loose to pay tribute to the Talking Heads and B-52s, with a dance accompaniment, or course.