San Diego weekend arts events: ‘Hadestown,’ ‘Echoes of Africa,’ and new work at MCASD

Yoshiko Yap


Theater, Music
The touring Broadway production of the Anaïs Mitchell-penned musical “Hadestown” is in town just for this week. It intertwines the Greek mythology stories of Hades and his wife Persephone, and the poor young lovers Orpheus and Eurydice.

While the story revolves around the four characters (bolstered by a charming Hermes, the narrator, and the three Fates), Orpheus is the heart of this story, and was played on Jun. 1 by the exquisitely voiced Chibueze Ihuoma — billed as an understudy but is now stepping into the lead. Highlights were the sweetly poignant “Epic I, II and II,” particularly “Epic III,” — the song Orpheus agonizes over writing — but a moment during the otherwise riotous “Livin’ It Up On Top” when the company raises their cups, the music drops out and Orpheus toasts: “To the world we dream about, and the one we live in now,” was one of those “pin drop” moments.

There’s something fresh, brainy and hopeful (though in a dark, Hades-sort of way) about the story. This musical won eight Tony Awards in 2019 and a 2020 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and this is the show’s first national tour.

You can also watch the original Broadway cast perform at the NPR Tiny Desk, one of the last concerts they performed before the pandemic.

Hadestown: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Details: Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $55-$130.

More theater: Check out KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando’s feature on The Old Globe’s production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” along with a thoughtful discussion with director Shana Cooper on themes of misogyny and the patriarchy in the script. opening Sunday through Jul. 10, 2022. It marks the return of the Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Festival, finally back in-person at their outdoor festival stage. On Jul. 31, they’ll open “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Patricia McGregor.

‘Echoes of Africa’ exhibition

Visual art
Curated by Dr. Denise Rogers, this exhibition features the work of five artists: Andrea Chung, Angie Jennings, Christopher Lloyd Tucker, Maxx Moses and Jermaine Adeshola Williams, alongside — and in conversation with — artifacts from the Mesa College World Cultures collection of African works.

Andrea Chung’s work is also currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla campus. You can read about artist Christopher Lloyd Tucker, and his work in this exhibition, “Again,” in this month’s visual art recommendations.

The exhibition opens with a performance from the World Beat Center’s African Drum and Dance group, Saturday at noon on the library’s first floor. The exhibition is in the 9th-floor gallery.

Details: Exhibition information. On view Saturday, Jun. 4, through Aug. 20, 2022, with a reception Saturday at noon. Gallery hours are 1-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Central Library Art Gallery, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. Free.

Three exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown

Visual art
MCASD’s downtown space has been temporarily closed since the Yolanda López exhibition was taken down, and will reopen with Carmen Argote’s exhibition, “Filtration System for a Process-based Practice,” as well as “Figurative Vocabularies: Selections from the Collection,” and Chris Burden and Byron Kim’s “The Reason for the Neutron Bomb” on Saturday.

Promotional photo for Carmen Argote: Filtration System for a Process-based Practice

Courtesy of MCASD

“Carmen Argote: Filtration System for a Process-based Practice” opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s downtown location on Jun. 4, 2022.

A centerpiece for Argote’s exhibition is her massive sculptural dome, made to represent a strange, concrete structure in a Los Angeles lake, as well as the artist’s experience visiting it. You can read more about Argote’s powerful and thoughtful work here.

Details: Exhibition information. On view Saturday, Jun. 4 through Oct. 23, 2022. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. MCASD Downtown, 1100 Kettner Blvd., $0-$10 ($8 for San Diego County and Tijuana residents).

More visual art: Check out my feature on the “Voices from the Rez” exhibition opening on the La Jolla Historical Society’s “Voices from the Rez” exhibition, which opens with a reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jun. 3, 2022.

Gustavo Romero

Courtesy of the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library

Pianist Gustavo Romero is shown in an undated photo

‘Back to Beethoven’: Summer Festival Series

Music, Classical
At the Athenaeum, Gustavo Romero has chosen a specific composer and played their entire piano repertoire each summer for the past 22 years.

This year, the dynamic performer is continuing last year’s attempt at Beethoven’s piano sonatas, performing 17 more of them over the course of four Sundays in June. Did I mention that he plays from memory?

Romero will kick things off on Sunday with Sonatas No. 20, 11, 7, 27, and 21, otherwise known as “Waldstein.” Additional performances will be on Jun. 12, 19 and 26, and tickets are available for individual performances or for the full series. Guests can also purchase tickets for dinners following each concert.

Details: Sunday, Jun. 5, 2022, at 4 p.m. Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. $50+.

Women In Jazz Mini-Fest: Artemis and Thana Alexa

Music, Jazz
Presented by San Diego Jazz Ventures — an organization helmed by Dan Atkinson who also coordinates the jazz programs at the Athenaeum — this mini-fest features the group Artemis with two performances at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, and a 6 p.m. Saturday performance from Thana Alexa. The performances will take place in the indoor theater at the Alexandria at Torrey Pines.

Pachamama by Thana Alexa

Details: Friday at 6 and 8 p.m.; Saturday at 6 p.m. The Alexandria, 10996 Torreyana Rd., Torrey Pines. $50+.

More music: Listen to my interview with Steven Schick, who will end his 15-year run as music director and conductor of the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus with two performances, 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jun. 3, and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jun. 4 at Good Samaritan Church in UTC. The orchestra will perform Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2,” Béla Bartók’s “Violin Concerto No. 1,” and Anthony Vine’s “The Song of St. Bazetta” for guitar, bass clarinet and orchestra.

For more arts events and Editor’s Picks, or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar. And be sure to sign up for the weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter.

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