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Looking ahead: The month of February in the arts

Bill DeYoung



Detroit's Sphinx Virtuosi performs at the Museum of Fine Arts later this month. Photo provided.

Sphinx Virtuosi, one of America’s most dynamic chamber orchestras, will make five concert appearances in St. Petersburg during the third week in February.

Four of these are private performances, at local schools and at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.

The critically-regaled Detroit ensemble, however, will close out its short visit with a public concert Friday, Feb, 21 at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg, in the Marly Auditorium. The 7 p.m. performance, titled For Justice and Peace, is part of the MFA’s ongoing Art of the Stage: Picasso to Hockney exhibit. Unlike some of the other musical events, this one requires tickets; purchase them here.

Comprised of 18 of the nation’s top black and Latinx classical soloists, the Virtuosi are alumni of the Sphinx Competition, and its members work together as cultural ambassadors reaching new audiences.

“True to their name,” wrote a Washington Post reviewer, “the Sphinx Virtuosi call up the vision of an iconic mythological feline with its immeasurable power, unwavering command and soulful beauty.”

The ensemble is known for its programs of works by contemporary composers. The MFA program will include John Williams’ Three Themes; Frank Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, a work by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla; and a piece from black British composer, Philip Herbert, dedicated to 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence whose life was lost to violence.

Art of the Stage covers a lot of cultural bases this month, many of which we’ll tag here in the Catalyst. The full schedule is here.

All that jazz

Tampa Bay jazz trumpet giant James Suggs returns to the Palladium Feb. 21, with his quartet, with a tribute to the music of Miles Davis. This is Suggs’ second all-Miles show at the Side Door; its predecessor was a total sellout. So be forewarned.

Immediately following comes the 2020 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival, curated by David Manson, musician, bandleader and founder of the nonprofit presenter EMIT.

It all takes place at the Palladium, Feb. 26-March 1, in both the Side Door (that’s the cozy cabaret room downstairs) and in Hough Hall (the 900-seat main room).

The schedule: Feb. 26, O Som Do Jazz with Rafael Pereira, Jose Valentino Ruiz and Andrea Moraes Manson (Brazilian music, Side Door); The Conglomerate, Orlando-based jazz/funk band at the Side Door Feb. 27; Leon Foster Thomas Quartet (steel pan virtuoso) and Tal Cohen (Israeli pianist), a double header at the Side Door Feb. 28; Feb. 29L Vocalist Alexis Cole with the 17-member Helios Jazz Orchestra, conducted by David Manson (Hough Hall); Jason Charos and the Booker Little Project (quintet with veteran trumpeter Charos), at the Side Door March 1.

All tickets are available at the Palladium website.

And more arts

The second annual St. Petersburg Celebration of the Arts rolls along all month with concerts, lectures, art shows and more, some of them existing outside of the Celebration umbrella, many of them organized just to be a part of the 2020 theme, Tolerance and Acceptance.

A couple of highlights: The St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival’s staged reading of The Merchant of Venice, with mini lecture and talkback, Feb. 23, and the St. Petersburg Opera Company’s Harmony concert Feb. 28 featuring, among other performers, the Kuumba West African Dancers and Drummers. Both of these events will take place at Opera Central, 2145 1st Avenue S. Full Celebration schedule.

Poets on Poets: A Black History Month Showcase, Thursday at thestudio@620, features live readings from Bob Devin Jones and Denzel Johnson-Green, essential members both of the studio-at-620 family, plus Miesha Brundridge (A Beautiful Disaster), Sara Reis (Snow Angels on the Living Room Floor), Ian Lindsay, Stephanie Sarkissian, Evangelia Maragouthakis, Callie Connelly, Roberta Torres, Keesha Brundridge King, Alexandra Morgan and Julia Linkogle. With musical accompaniment by Johnny Cloud, flute, Thaddeus Dziekonski, trumpet and Evangelia Maragouthakis, piano. Admission to the 7 p.m. event is $10.

Feb. 14 and 15 brings Jazz Theory, a collaborative concert from projectALCHEMY, the group created by thestudio@620 Artist in Residence Alex Jones. It’s an evening (well, two evenings) of jazz (courtesy of are saxman extraordinaire Jeremy Carter and his band, and dance (courtesy of Jones, a prodigiously talented dancer and choreographer.

Singer, actress and longtime vocal favorite Sharon Scott has an “Evening With” planned at thestudio@620 Thursday, Feb. 27.

Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre catches up with the other professional theaters in the bay area this very week – the organization’s first show of the New Year (can we still call it that?) is the Topher Payne comedy Morningside, about an Atlanta baby shower that – due primarily to the effects of too much alcohol – goes horribly wrong. It opens Feb. 7 (that’s this coming Friday) and runs through Feb 23.

Opera Tampa, the resident opera company of the Straz Center, is celebrating its 25th season. And next in the Mainstage lineup (in Morsani Hall) is Bizet’s Carmen, Feb. 7-9.

“Mean Girls” onstage. Photo provided.

Also at the Straz Center, the Broadway tour of the musical version of Mean Girls is checking in Feb. 18-23. It is, of course, an adaptation of the Tine Fey-scripted 2004 comedy (she is credited as book writer for the stage musical).

Saturday Night Live creator and grand poobah Lorne Michaels is now putting together another movie, this time a big-screen version of the musical version. It’s all very Producers, isn’t it? “I’m very excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen,” Fey said recently. “It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences. I’ve spent sixteen years with these characters now. They are my Marvel Universe and I love them dearly.”

Concerts of note

This month’s big ones include Billy Joel (Feb. 7, Amalie Arena); Lucinda Williams (Feb. 7 and 8, Capitol Theatre); Andrea Bocelli (Feb. 14, Amalie Arena); Gabriel Iglesias (Feb. 21, Yuengling Center); Gregory Porter and Ledisi (Feb. 21, Mahaffey Theater); Judy Collins (Feb. 23, Capitol Theatre).

There are, of course, lots of others. Check each venue’s website for the full schedules.

  • We can’t stress this enough: If we don’t know about your event, we can’t write anything about it. So please remember to add to your mailing list today!



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