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News, reviews, and hot tips for April 2007

A Circle of Friends

Photograph: Audrey Cho
Josephine Lee, Chicago pianist
Josephine Lee

Josephine Lee is very busy. She’s been busy since age 15, when she was already teaching piano to sisters Meena and Youna Cho and conducting them in the Hosanna Boys and Girls Choir. In 1999 at 22, she was chosen music director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, whose concert choir tours the world and appears regularly with the CSO and Lyric Opera. Named the first Robert Shaw Conducting Fellow in 2002, Lee has led the Grant Park and Oregon Symphony orchestras, collaborated with Steppenwolf and Lookingglass theatres (co-creating the Jeff-nominated musical Sita Ram), and conducted the world première of Bobby McFerrin’s He Ran to the Train with the CSO. But this talented musician-who is also a gifted pianist-will put down her baton for what is, surprisingly, her professional début as an instrumentalist. To celebrate the occasion, she’s selected Schubert’s Trout Quintet, a joy-filled work full of gorgeous melodies-including the magnificent theme and variations of the fourth movement. Joining Lee for this program-which also includes Brahms’s luscious Clarinet Trio-will be violinist Rachel Barton Pine; bassist Allen Tinkham, music director of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra; Abe Feder; Kristin Figard; and the Cho sisters. Lee is “thrilled to be finally getting together with friends to create music,” she says, “and chamber music is like the finest wine."       
–Barbara Yaross

Josephine Lee and Friends. April 1st at 3 p.m. at Music in the Loft, 1017 W. Wash­ington Blvd. $25. Tickets: 312-243-9233.

Face Time

Photograph: Mark Sullivan
Paul Provenza from Chicago's Lakeshore Theater

Brace yourself! The edgy and provocative comics booked weekly into the Lakeshore Theater this month, are a new breed of fearless, in-your-face performers. Paul Provenza (right, who scaled unimaginable scatological heights with his film The Aristocrats) is the Lakeshore’s consigliere of comedy-the go-to guy for advice on scheduling the best, wherever they’re from. Currently, he’s trying to get visas for performers who’ve gigged at the anything-goes Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. “Pop culture comedy is so bland,” he says, “it’s like top-40 music. There are real artists out there and we want to make a home for them. These guys are making their own thing happen-without TV-on the Internet and in clubs, and they’re so much more thoughtful and interesting and challenging”.

1. Doug Benson: He’s appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sarah Silverman Program among many others. His love of marijuana is integral to his act.      

2. The Idiots: These comics blend physical comedy and modern slapstick while claiming to be the idiot adult children of Watson and Crick, the discoverers of DNA. They join the hilarity of Laurel and Hardy to the dark humor of late-period Lenny Bruce.  

3. Mike Birbiglia: A postmodern observational comic, a favorite of both David Letterman and the campus crowd. He started his career in second grade when he was named author of the month for a poem about bears and Thanksgiving.

4. Doug Stanhope: Probably the only presidential candidate who ever appeared in a Girls Gone Wild video. He’s fearlessly offensive in pursuit of his targets -which sometimes includes audiences. The late show includes his Unbookables, comic performance artists who go beyond the limit in as many ways as possible.

5. Sit ‘n’ Spin: This is a bimonthly LA institution produced by ex-Chicagoan Jill Soloway (who wrote for Six Feet Under) and Maggie Rowe, in which writers, actors, and regular people talk about some of the strange, embarrassing, and occasionally lascivious intrusions in their lives. It’s the best of This American Life, The Enquirer, and group therapy. 
–Stuart J. Rosenberg

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