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Your weekend arts forecast: Dreams of Beethoven at MFA

Bill DeYoung



Pianist Yael Weiss performs June 2 at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. Photo provided.

World-renowned pianist Yael Weiss will perform in recital Sunday (June 2) at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, as part of the Marly Music Series. Known as a musical innovator, Weiss will perform selections from her ambitious commissioning and performance project 32 Bright Clouds: Beethoven Conversations Around the World.

She has commissioned composers from 32 countries – each of them no stranger to unrest and conflict – to compose a work inspired in some way by one of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas.

Each of the 32 works include a brief melodic motif from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis as a unifier; above the notes, the composer had inscribed the phrase “A Call for Inward and Outward Peace.”

The idea, Weiss told DC Metro Theater Arts, “is to harness music’s great power for unity and peace. My decision to curate 32 Bright Clouds evolved from a need to go past the boundaries of usual concerts so as to create musical experiences that respond meaningfully to the complexities and struggles of today’s world.”

The project’s title, the Israeli-American musician explained, “is a poetic expression taken from an old Zen text. It is understood to mean ‘the entire world covered with brightness of wisdom,’ an image I find inspiring as I work on the 32 Bright Clouds project.”

Sunday’s program will include Hope For the Shackled, by George Mensah Essilfie of Ghana; Unheard Voices, by Filipino composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren, with additional 32 Clouds works from Indonesia, Iran and Venezuela.

The performance will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the MFA’s Marly Ballroom. The Marly Music Series began at the same time the museum itself did, in 1965.

Still, it’s a little-kown gem. “We bring in musicians from all over the world,” explains Margaret Murray, the museum’s Associate Curator of Public Programs. “We’ve brought in amazing artists. It’s usually jazz, chamber, world music or classical music.”

There are tentative plans to expand the summertime Marly concerts into a year-round series.

Tickets and info here.


Special film screenings

Screening tonight (May 30) at freeFall Theatre is director Anna Jankel’s 2018 adaptation of the Fiona Shaw novel Tell it to the Bees. Holliday Grainger (The Borgias, The Finest Hours) stars as an Englishwoman whose rocky marriage has finally fallen apart; she and her young son are taken in by the village’s new doctor (Anna Paquin). The women fall in love, which leads to scandal.

The 7:15 screening in the freeFall auditorium is sponsored by the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Tickets are here.

The Daddy Kool-sponsored Listen Up Film Series at the Hideaway Café continues June 3 (Monday) with The Other F Word, a documentary about punk rock musicians. The word in question is “Fatherhood,” and that’s the subtext of Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’ film: Naughty musicians who grew up and became dads. Just in time for Fathers Day next week. Screened at 8 p.m., it’s free, but RSVPs here are necessary.


Blasts from le past

Mark Farner, who was at one time one of the biggest rock stars in America, headlines Clearwater’s free Blast Friday event this week (May 31) in the Cleveland Street District downtown. Farner, of course, was the singer, songwriter and guitarist for Michigan’s Grand Funk Railroad, which ruled the airwaves in the early ‘70s. Reserved VIP tickets for the 5:30 p.m. show (with Tampa’s Stormbringer opening) are gone; feel free to show up with a lawn chair or blanket.

And one of the country’s greatest pop singers of the same era, Chuck Negron, is part of the good old Happy Together Tour that stops at Ruth Echerd Hall Saturday. Negron was one of the three leads for Three Dog Night – that’s him on “One,” “Easy to Be Hard” and “Joy to the World,” among others – and his troubled life was chronicled in a gripping autobiography, Three Dog Nightmare.

Nevertheless, Chuck’s a survivor, and with this show he’s on the bill alongside the Turtles (still with Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, aka Flo & Eddie), Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, the Buckinghams, the Classics IV (although lead singer Dennis Yost died in 2008) and the Cowsills (highly recommended: The Family Band documentary on Amazon Prime). Tickets and info here.


And now, this

Buyer & Cellar continues at freeFall Theatre. Read more.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night is in its first weekend at American Stage. Read more.

Hedda is in its final weekend at Jobsite. Read more.

Ronnie James Dio plays the Palladium – as a hologram. Read more.

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