He’s the mesmerizing master of the marimba. Makoto Nakura‘s artistry, virtuosity and showmanship enlighten and entertain audiences at the same time. On Saturday, the Japanese percussionist will offer a concert in his adopted hometown, Forest Hills, thanks to Musica Reginae. The program includes Nakura’s own transcriptions of Bach’s Solo Partita in E major and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; the pyrotechnic display of Paganini’s Caprice no. 24 and Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka, and more recent works by Japanese composers Toshi Ichiyanagi and Toshio Mashima. Plus, he will be accompanied by violinist Jesse Mills and pianist Barbara Podgurski from the Oratorio Society of Queens.
Details: Making Music with the Marimba, The Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, December 7th, 7:30 pm. $20 adults/$15 seniors/$10 students/free children under 12.
Technically, it’s when the sun reaches its most southern declination. Effectively, it’s the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight hours for those living north of the Equator. Artistically, it’s has been the inspiration for dance, literature, mythology, painting, religion and ritual for centuries. Locally, it’s the perfect time to head to the Queens Botanical Garden. On December 8th, the Flushing oasis will celebrate the winter solstice with live music by the acappella group Rough Dozen, botanical craft workshops, a special holiday market, garden tours and a tree lighting that morphs into a seasonal sing-along. There’s also a rumor that Santa Claus will show up.
Details: Winter Solstice Celebration, Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, December 8th, 12:30 pm to 5 pm, Free. (QBG admission is free from November 1st through March 31st.)
They have a lot in common. Judith Sloan (above) is an actress, audio artist, writer, radio producer, educator and poet whose work combines humor, pathos and a love of the absurd. Warren Lehreris a writer and designer who reunites storytelling with the printed word. This married couple from Sunnyside cofounded EarSay, an arts organization that documents and portrays the lives of the uncelebrated. Their book Crossing the BLVD is part of a multimedia project that began with storytelling workshops in libraries, community centers and schools throughout Queens, and includes public radio documentaries, a traveling exhibition of photographs and sound stations, a performance and an interactive website. This Friday, Sloan will perform excerpts from her work-in-progress Yo Miss! Teaching Inside the Cultural Divide, which mixes theatre, radio and poetry, at the Queens Council on the Arts as part of its 3rd Space program. During the same event, Lehrer will offer a performance/reading of A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, an illuminated novel consisting of 101 books written by a controversial author who gets introspective while in jail. A discussion about their process and a Q&A with the audience will follow.
Details: Performances by Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer, Queens Council on the Arts, 37-11 35th Avenue, Astoria, December 6th, 7 pm, $5.
Thank God it’s First Fridays! The Noguchi Museum offers extended evening hours on the first Friday of every month during the summer — and as a special treat — on December 6th. The event generally features extended hours from 5 pm to 8 pm, pay-what-you-want admission, a guided discussion on art and a cash beer-and-wine bar. This Friday, Noguchi will screen two episodes of the 12-part documentary Routes: The Spiritual Odyssey of Chinese American Artists. These segments focus on Shen Ruijin and Zheng Lianjie, taking the audience through each China-born artist’s working process. A former Camargo Foundation Fellow, Ruijin is known for creating 3D painting-animations featuring images that move a little bit, thus promoting the ancient Chinese belief that change is constant. Lianjie, who lives in Beijing and New York City, came of age during the Cultural Revolution in the 1980s and transformed his work to art installations and performance-based pieces from traditional painting.
Details: Routes: The Spiritual Odyssey of Chinese American Artists, Noguchi Museum, 09-01 33rd Road, Long Island City, December 6th, 5 pm, pay-what-you-wish.
They will deck the halls! Many, many halls. On December 8th, the Queens Historical Society will host the 26th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour through Flushing and Corona. A trolley will bring participants to seven landmarked sites, which will offer special seasonal programming, a glimpse at life during holidays past and refreshments. Consider the following:
Lewis H. Latimer House Museum (1889) was home of African-American inventor Lewis H. Latimer, who lived there from 1903 until his death in 1928. The son of fugitive slaves, he played a vital role in the development of the telephone and the incandescent light bulb.
Friends Meeting House (1694) is the first house of worship in the village of Flushing and NYC’s oldest structure in continuous use for religious purposes. The venue also has an historic cemetery.
Flushing Town Hall (1862) was the cultural and political focal point of the village of Flushing. The building features a rich history that includes visits by dignitaries such as PT Barnum and Tom Thumb, operas, murder trials and even a jail cell. Frederick Douglass once spoke from the portico.
Bowne House (1661) is known for its connection to the principle of freedom of conscience in the United States. Nine generations of the Bowne family lived in the house (below).
Louis Armstrong House Museum (1910) was purchased by jazz legend Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, in 1943. For the season, the house (above) will feature rare audio clips from Satchmo’s personal recordings.
Details: Holiday Historic House Tour, Organized from Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, December 8th, 1 pm to 5 pm, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, children under 12 are free. (more…)
Their teams have names like Sister Sex Wolf, Butter High, Monster Monster, Perfect Stranglers and Funkle Todd, and they have no idea what they are going to do next. The Queens Secret Improv Club is a curated comedy collective comprised of invited indie squads and auditioned house teams. They aim to please… spontaneously. They also hang out at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. In fact, they will perform there on November 28th, 29th and 30th, followed by various shows during December. Sometimes they go on for hours. Other times, they invite the audience to join in.
Details: INDIpak Chopra and QSIC at Heart, The Secret Theatre, 44-02 23rd Street, LIC, November 28th, 7 pm and 9:15 pm, $5. Each show is a rotating indie improv showcase that features four teams of new and veteran talent. There will be a mixer between blocks from 8:30 pm to 9:15 pm during which anybody can perform. Click here for other QSIC shows.
For the past 30 years, Robin Bady (above right) has worked as a storyteller, actress, musician, playwright, director, artistic director, theater company founder and mask-maker. Mixing these past experiences, she’ll host Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah! at Flushing Town Hall this Sunday. With musical accompaniment by alt-rock violinist and ukulele player Deni Bonet (pictured after the jump), Bady will share her favorite stories and songs about miracles, menorahs, dreidels and potato latkes. Known for her madcap, interactive style, Bady draws upon world folklore, fairy tales, oral traditions, ghost stories and literature to turn her performances into celebrations.
Details: Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah!, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, December 1st, 1 pm and 3 pm, $10/$5 for children.
College students home on break. Parents looking for enrichment activities for their toddlers. Muppet fanatics. Everybody should give thanks for the Museum of the Moving Image this Turkey Day Weekend, as the Astoria venue will offer something for everyone. The fun starts on November 29th with the launch of a six-film retrospective on actress Julianne Moore that will run through December 1st with Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Big Lebowski (above), Far From Heaven, Boogie Nights, Safe (introduced by producer Christine Vachon), and The Kids Are All Right. At 1 pm on November 29th, the museum will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premiere of The Jimmy Dean Show with A Dog’s Life: A Rowlf Retrospective (pictured after the jump). The screening celebrates the pioneering muppet Rowlf’s greatest moments (and some great performances by his creator, the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson) from commercials, industrial films, variety shows and, of course, The Muppet Show. Also on November 29th, there are two Holiday Puppet Party Workshops – during which children will use simple materials and techniques similar to those Henson utilized to make puppets before taking turns performing with them in a short televised puppet show.
Details: Julianne Moore Retrospective, Rowlf Retropective, Puppet Party Workshop, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, November 20th through December 1st, times vary, movies free with admission, $5 materials fee for workshops. (more…)
It’s never the same old song and dance with this group. Broadway’s Next H!t Musical, an improvised, singing comedy, comes to the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on Sunday. Every lyric, melody and pantomime is made up on the spot. Audience members write a few invented Broadway song titles on pieces of paper and drop them in a fishbowl. Then each cast member randomly draws a song and performs it as part of a mock contest for a “Phony Award.” With help from an always cheeky master of ceremonies, the audience chooses a favorite tune, and the troupe creates a fully staged, completely off-the-cuff musical comedy around the winner.
It’s part café with out-of-the-ordinary food and drink items, and it’s part gallery with out-of-this-world art. Resobox was founded in 2009 as a meeting place for people who are interested in Japanese art and food. In line with this tradition, the Long Island City venue is currently presenting Working Life in Meija Japan 1868-1912: Photographs from the Burns Archive, an exhibition of hand-colored photographs of Japanese entrepreneurial class culture from the 19th century, when the Asian country was starting to export products. Taken by professional photographers under government supervision, the images strive to highlight a perceived exotic nature of Japan to the West.
Details: Working Life in Meija Japan 1868-1912: Photographs from the Burns Archive, Resobox, 41-26 27th Street, Long Island City, through December 5th, Gallery Hours, Monday, 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, Saturday, noon to 5 pm, closed on Tuesday and Sunday. (more…)