Spring into Culture
From mainstream to alternative, here are eighteen can’t-miss events to put on your spring cultural calendar
Clockwise from top left: Al Jarreau, Avenue Q, Ke$ha, and The Garth Fagan Dance Troupe
Charlotte’s artistic outlets are revving their engines for the sunny season, bringing new productions and exhibits to the city. While you can pack your calendar with all-time favorite concerts and plays, many local companies are filling the second half of their seasons with edgy, alternative shows. We found the season’s can’t-miss events, from the big names to under-the-radar gems, all equally worth your time.
Safe bet: Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Light My Fire In tribute to a new exhibit from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art featuring works by Niki de Saint Phalle (whose Firebird looms outside the Bechtler’s main entrance), the CSO will gather at the Knight Theater under conductor Christopher Warren-Green to perform six fire-themed works, including Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks,” De Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance,” and, of course, selections from Stravinsky’s The Firebird: Suite. Ticket price also includes admission to the Bechtler after the concert, where you can cool off with a museum stroll, appetizers, and drinks. March 25 at the Knight Theater.
Also consider: In a concert titled April in Paris, a trio from Charlotte Chamber Music will perform three romantic works from turn-of-the-century French composer Maurice Ravel at this free show on April 5 in uptown’s First Presbyterian Church.
Safe bet: Al Jarreau Smooth jazz and R&B, before they developed a reputation as the soundtrack to root canals, had a growth spurt in the 1970s. One of the instigators was vocalist and soul music legend Al Jarreau. His soft, melodic crooning went quiet for a while, but has appeared in the public ear again with the release of four albums since 2000, including a Grammy-nominated compilation with George Benson. March 20 at the Knight Theater.
Also consider: On February 4, as part of the monthly Jazz at the Bechtler series, the Ziad Jazz Quartet will add a little sentiment to the modern atmosphere with love tunes from Rodgers and Hart, Gerswhin, and Porter.
Safe bet: Ke$ha If Lady Gaga was the queen of the dance floor anthems in 2010, Ke$ha was the duchess. Top 40 staples like “We R Who We R” and “Your Love Is My Drug,” which combine throbbing bass and catchy lyrics, have made her a pop favorite, and when she blasts her punk princess vocals at The Fillmore, we think she’ll have you dancing like you’re dumb, dumb, dumb, d-dumb … April 19 at The Fillmore.
Also consider: Sugar Glyder—an unsigned, unsung gem in Charlotte’s indie rock scene—has an offbeat, alternative sound that doesn’t skimp on electric guitar handiwork, and they’re playing Amos’ Southend on February 11.
Safe bet: North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Director’s Choice This fortieth-anniversary performance from Charlotte’s premier dance company is curated by artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and offers a four-act production of classic, modern, and brand-new dance numbers. The show kicks off with Tchaikovsky's Pas de Deux and continues with Satto (Wind Dance), choreographed by former artistic director Salvatore Aiello. Following Le Souffle de l’esprit, from Czech choreographer Jiri Bubenicek, the show ends with a world-premiere production from resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden, a stylistic tribute to the 100th birthday of Romare Bearden. March 10-12 at the Knight Theater.
Also consider: The Garth Fagan Dance Troupe (whose director choreographed Broadway’s The Lion King) will bring its tour to the Knight Theater March 31-April 3. Fagan is a contemporary troupe that offers an edgy alternative to traditional ballet shows.