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The Friday Five for May 17
The season winds down with a full slate of beloved classics.

Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit and Mark O’Connor at the Wilson Center

Saturday 8:00 p.m., 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

Because mega-fame may have passed her by, but Monheit can certainly hold her own in comparison to pop-jazz stars like Diane Krall or Norah Jones. She approaches the canon with a similar cozy softness, but recent reviews have remarked on her new confidence and more refined musicality as she continues her jazz journey. Here, she’s joined by violinist O’Connor for an evening that is bound to be replete with standards and a few originals, as well. And the Wilson Center’s Harris Theater is a great place to capture every nuance and inflection of the music, before everything moves outdoors where singers have to compete with passing jets and Harleys.

Bel Canto Chorus’s A German Requiem at the Oconomowoc Performing Arts Center

Saturday 7:30 p.m., 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc

Because it’s quite simply one of the most beautiful pieces of choral music ever written. Richard Hynson leads his Bel Canto orchestra in a performance, which includes members of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. While not without its moments of majesty, the music is most memorable for its sense of tenderness and stillness. If that’s not enough, think of it as the start of your Brahms marathon, and plan to attend the MSO’s double header of Brahms symphonies next weekend.

Jennifer Startt

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at St. Josaphat’s Basilica

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., 2333 S. 6th St. 

Because it’s a chance to hear the U.S. premiere of a symphony by one of the neglected composers of the 20th century, Mieczys┼éaw Weinberg. A Polish Jew who eventually settled in Russia, Weinberg lost most of his family in the Holocaust. He becamse a protégé of Shostakovich, and championed by some of the great musicians of the century. The MSO’s Francesco Lecce-Chong will conduct Weinberg’s Symphony No. 2 (he wrote 22 in all), along with other music around the theme “Remembrance”—including Vaughan Williams “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” and his D-minor violin concerto, featuring the orchestra’s principal second violin, Jennifer Startt.

Valerie Harmon and Ryan Martin (photo by Timothy O'Donnell)

Milwaukee Ballet’s Swan Lake at the Marcus Center

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 1:30 p.m., 929 N. Water St.

Why? Because sometimes you have to go back to the source. With its rich romantic score, refined physical elegance, layered metaphors and dark psychology, Swan Lake is arguably the mother of all ballets. And with Michael Pink and the MB company involved, it is in fine hands. The story has been tweaked and fiddled with since it’s 1877 debut, and Michael Pink, too, will have his own approach to the classic. But beyond the story is the dance, classical in the purest sense of the word. And you can be sure the company will be at its best.

Bill Theisen

Skylight Theatre’s The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess at the Broadway Theatre Center

Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2:00 p.m., 158 N. Broadway St.

Because it’s a landmark of American music, and it’s a fitting swan song for outgoing Skylight Artistic Director Bill Theisen. It’s opera, it’s Broadway, it’s American. The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (not to be confused with “Weird” Al Yankovic’s Porgy & Bess) contains multitudes. But in the Skylight’s more intimate staging—not big Broadway or grand opera—the nuances of the story and the beauty of the music should shine bright. 

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