Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reliving the 20th century

“August Wilson’s 20th Century,” at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, is a five-week series of staged readings of the Pulitzer-winning playwright “Pittsburgh cycle” — 10 plays chronicling the black experience in America in each of the 10 decades of the past century. The Kennedy Center offers them in chronological order, and opens March 4 with “Gem of the Ocean,” which takes place in the century’s opening decade. See Theater.

Comes the King

He’s a Kennedy Center honoree, a fixture in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a living legend with 18 Grammies and more than 50 albums to his credit. At 84, bluesman B.B. King is still going strong, and he comes to the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda for 7:30 p.m. shows on March 3 and 4. Tickets are selling fast. See Pop Music.

Simon says OK

He got raves and applause from the acid-tongued British producer Simon Cowell. That’s endorsement enough for the unassuming British operatic tenor Paul Potts, surprise winner last year of “Britain’s Got Talent” and star of YouTube’s highest rated video. He’ll be at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW, at 8 p.m. March 3. See Classical Music.

Leapin’ at the chance

The National Geographic Society takes advantage of Leap Day — the extra day we get in February once every four years — to show off some of the 150 live frogs in its exhibit “Frogs — A Chorus of Colors.” Its frog handler will do show-and-tell presentations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 29 that will give Leap Day visitors the chance to see the leapers up close. That’s at Explorers Hall, 17th and M streets NW. See Museums.

Early masterworks

Think “Renaissance music” and what springs to mind are the Tallis Scholars, founded in 1973 and named for the 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis. The a cappella ensemble, noted for the purity of its sound, comes to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park at 7:30 p.m. March 2 with masterpieces from Spain and Portugal, among them Tomas Luis da Victoria’s “Requiem.” See Classical Music.

Starring color

The paint was thinned, then poured, stained or sprayed onto canvas expanses in a style, called “Color Field,” that took over American abstract art in the 1950s and influenced its every aspect for a quarter-century. Now the Smithsonian American Art Museum at Eighth and F streets NW mounts the first full-scale examination of the movement, with 40 paintings by Gene Davis, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski and others. “Color as Field: American Painting, 1950-1975” opens Feb. 29 and runs through May 26. See Museums.

Going green

If Lunasa and Cherish the Ladies are in town, can St. Patrick’s Day be far behind? The “trad” music groups — the bass-driven male quintet direct from Ireland, the female five born of the Irish-American diaspora — hit Washington on the same day, March 4. Catch Lunasa at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere in Alexandria and Cherish the Ladies at 8 p.m. at the Wolf Trap Barns in Vienna, where they do a second 8 p.m. show on March 5. See Clubs and Pop Music.

Charlie would be proud

Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 movie “City Lights” may have been a silent film, but it did have an accompanying musical score, which Chaplin composed himself. On Feb. 29 at the Music Center at Strathmore, Marin Alsop conducts the BSO in an updated orchestration of the score — as the film is being shown. That’s at 8 p.m. at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, but the lobby opens at 6:30 p.m. for live jazz, tapas and cocktails. See Classical Music.

Inspired landscapes

The National Gallery of Art’s long-awaited “In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet,” explores the role played by the woods outside Paris in work of landscape artists in 19th-century France. Nearly 120 paintings, pastels, and photographs — including works by Corot, Rousseau, Millet, Monet and photographer Eugene Cuvelier — go on view March 2 on the West Building’s Main Floor at Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The show runs through June 8. See Museums.

Love and angels

Are angels among us? And can they help? Dominick Argento says yes on both counts. His “Evensong: of Love and Angels,” commissioned by the Cathedral Choral Society to mark the Washington National Cathedral’s centennial, gets its world premiere at 4 p.m. March 2 under the direction of J. Reilly Lewis, with soprano Elizabeth Futral as soloist. Lagniappe: a free pre-concert discussion at 2:30 p.m. Massachusetts and Wisconsin avenues NW. See Classical Music.

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