Civic Centennial Celebration
Among the luminaries collaborating with the Civic Orchestra during its 100th anniversary season as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s training ensemble, the most luminous are conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Salonen programmed Debussy’s La Mer and Dvorak’s cello concerto for Ma. (Another Civic collaboration happens April 18, with the new-music and performance-art collective Mocrep.)
Details:Loop. Symphony Center. 6:30 p.m. Free–$350. cso.org
Lil Baby, City Girls, Blueface
Atlanta’s Lil Baby has only been rapping for a couple of years, but he’s already been ordained by rap royalty: He got his big break last year with a coveted Drake collaboration, and Future recently named him one of the genre’s current greats. But for the real draws of the aptly named New Generation Tour, show up early: Miami duo City Girls’ raunchy tracks play out like a real-life version of Girls Trip, and L.A.’s charismatic Blueface might be the most exciting new rapper of 2019.
Details:Uptown. Riviera Theatre. 8 p.m. $48. ticketfly.com
Early in his musical development (we’re talking since age 6), the composer Ted Hearne sang in the Chicago Children’s Choir. Now that he is heard all around the world — including by the Pulitzer Prize committee, which named him a finalist last year — Hearne returns to lead the next generation of CCC in some of his works for choir, including selections from Sound From the Bench, his exploration of American corporate personhood that caught the Pulitzer judges’ attention.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $25. mcachicago.org
Gregg Bordowitz: I Wanna Be Well
Since his time as an activist with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power in the late 1980s, this multidisciplinary artist has used his work to draw attention to the personal and political ways that the AIDS crisis shapes identity. This career-spanning survey includes video, writing, activism paraphernalia, personal ephemera, and documentation of his more recent performance material. The exhibition’s name, taken from a song by the Ramones, highlights the artist’s longtime interest in navigating the spaces between society’s perceptions of health and illness.
Details:Loop. Art Institute of Chicago. $14–$25. artic.edu
Consider this your introduction to the best 21st-century pop group you’ve never heard of. For nearly two decades, this trio from Japan has been making playful, Technicolor synth tracks that draw from the country’s rich history of electronic music, thanks to longtime producer Yasutaka Nakata (think Japan’s Max Martin, but exponentially cooler). Pregame by listening to Perfume’s 2008 breakthrough, Game, an album that revolutionized J-pop and still sounds like the future.
Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 8 p.m. $50. ticketmaster.com
Heartburn is less of a hazard than a badge of honor at the 11th annual celebration of salt-cured pork. The festival will feature tastings of bacon-inspired dishes from roughly 150 bars and restaurants, including Honey Butter Fried Chicken, the Duck Inn, and Gather. There are four all-you-can-eat ticket options, including one for teetotalers and another for those hankering for a bacon-flavored cocktail (or two — your doctor doesn’t need to know).
Details:University Village. UIC Forum. $60–$160. baconfestchicago.com
Germany’s Gauthier Dance performs an evening of works by Israeli choreographers, all of whom have been affiliated with the world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company of Tel Aviv. Hofesh Shechter’s Uprising and Gai Behar and Sharon Eyal’s Killer Pig are joined on the bill by Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, his signature piece and a local favorite.
Details:Loop. Harris Theater. $35–$135. harristheaterchicago.org
Cambodian Rock Band
Playwright Lauren Yee fell in love with the music of the indie group Dengue Fever, whose sound is inspired by Cambodian bands that put their own spin on California surf rock in the years before the Khmer Rouge’s 1975 takeover. Now Yee’s play — about a Cambodian American woman investigating mass killings by the Khmer Rouge — features half a dozen songs written by Dengue Fever (which will perform across the street at Lincoln Hall on May 1). Marti Lyons takes the director’s chair, hot off of her whip-smart staging of Witch at Writers Theatre.
Details:Lincoln Park. Victory Gardens Theater. $25–$71. victorygardens.org
Nigeria’s Afrobeats scene has produced a broadly influential sound, a catchy blend of African diaspora music, from rap to dancehall to West African highlife, that has found its way onto American charts. (Drake’s chart-topping “One Dance” owes Afrobeats’s originators an elaborate fruit basket.) Mr Eazi is an ideal ambassador: With trance-inducing melodies and breezy beats, his terminally chill take on the genre is the soundtrack for early-spring slow grinding.
Details:Logan Square. Concord Music Hall. 7 p.m. $25–$75. ticketfly.com
Dark With Excessive Bright
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s composer-in-residence, Missy Mazzoli, also serves as programmer-in-residence for the orchestra’s terrific new-music series, MusicNow. Mazzoli plays both roles in this concert, with the premiere of a chamber arrangement of her wee concerto, Dark With Excessive Bright, featuring the CSO’s principal double bassist, Alexander Hanna.
Details:Loop. Harris Theater. 7 p.m. $9–$28. cso.org
Among the face-tatted mosh pit that is rap’s newest generation, this Virginia Beach MC stands out. Though he broke through with brooding melodies as part of GothBoiClique, the late Lil Peep’s crew, Lil Tracy’s biggest hit so far was last year’s impossibly catchy “Like a Farmer,” a twangy, tongue-in-cheek bit of country-rap fusion featuring samples of clucking roosters. The rapper’s running with that aesthetic on his Goth Cowboy Tour, where at long last you can celebrate your love of both underground rap and the American West.
Details:Lincoln Park. Lincoln Hall. 7:30 p.m. $18–$22. songkick.com
Ofertório: Caetano, Moreno, Zeca, and Tom Veloso
In the 1960s, the Brazilian artistic revolution known as Tropicália gained international notice for the imaginative ways in which its members melded traditional forms with foreign influences and the avant-garde. Of all the figures involved with the musical aspects of Tropicália, Caetano Veloso is likely the most prominent. His sweet, childlike voice and gentle approach seduce audiences more easily than the freewheeling style of his compatriots. In this appearance, he’s joined by his three sons to play selections from last year’s Ofertório (Ao Vivo) and from his five-decade-plus career.
Details:Loop. Symphony Center. 8 p.m. $40–$90. cso.org
Since 1990, this British space-rock group has made anthems for all sorts of existential crises by folding blues, gospel, and the occasional Elvis ballad into droning lullabies about heartbreak, drugs, and despair. These days, core member Jason Pierce has relinquished a bit of the melodrama — on 2018’s And Nothing Hurt he sounds like a guy finally easing into his place in the world.
Details:Lake View. Vic Theatre. 8 p.m. $38–$55. ticketfly.com
A Chorus Line
Porchlight Music Theatre has steadily upped its game since becoming a resident company at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Already this season, Porchlight has staged a stunning revival of Gypsy starring E. Faye Butler and a top-notch production of the comedy A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. So have high hopes for its take on this iconic 1975 musical that exposes the inner lives, dreams, and neuroses of dancers auditioning for a Broadway show.
Details:Near North Side. Ruth Page Center for the Arts. $39–$66. porchlightmusictheatre.org
New York’s American Ballet Theatre returns to the Auditorium as part of a new four-year partnership. Alexei Ratmansky’s 2017 re-creation is the seldom-performed story of a boy with a sweet tooth who’s whisked away to a whimsical candy kingdom. Think of it as The Nutcracker without the Yuletide associations.
Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. $15–$150. auditoriumtheatre.org
Birmingham, Alabama, 1963: Dawoud Bey/Black Star
In January, the local photographer’s series Night Coming Tenderly, Black — pitch-dark, absorbing, and haunting images speculating on the perspectives of fugitive slaves traversing the Underground Railroad — opened at the Art Institute. This exhibit is a similar interrogation of history, with the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church as its focus. Its diptychs pair portraits of children, the same age as the five girls who were killed, with those of adults as old as the victims would have been in 2013.
Details:South Loop. Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago. Free. mocp.org
No longer artists-in-residence at the University of Chicago, this strong string quartet returns, with two new members, to premiere a work, subtitled Oceanic, composed for it by David Dzubay. The foursome will also play early Beethoven and Mendelssohn’s No. 3.
Details:Hyde Park. Mandel Hall, University of Chicago. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
Third Coast Baroque
One advantage of playing baroque music in a city founded in the Romantic era is the opportunity to put on lots of local premieres 300 years after their world premieres. Handel’s oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, the first composed by the eventual creator of Messiah and Judas Maccabaeus, consists of the allegorical characters Pleasure, Time, and Disenchantment debating whether Beauty’s beauty will fade.
Details:Loop; Evanston. Apr. 12: Chicago Temple; Apr. 13: Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern University. $10–$60. thirdcoastbaroque.org
La Feminista. Soy Yo?
New Jersey–based artist Tamara Torres grew up thinking feminism was a movement exclusively for privileged people — not for her, a formerly homeless Latina. But the photographs and paintings on display here elucidate how that perspective has helped her make sense of society’s treatment of women. In one collage, a nude black woman holds the scales of justice, and behind her pieces of the American flag are mixed with caution tape and images of the Black Panthers and Uncle Sam.
Details:Pilsen. Uri-Eichen Gallery. Free. uri-eichen.com
If you’re familiar with this comedian, it’s likely for his portrayal of Leon, the foulmouthed, street-smart freeloader who ingratiates himself into Larry David’s life on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. But Smoove is foremost a talented standup, with an idiosyncratic nose-clogged voice and a characteristically lighthearted look at the world (such as pointing out that cops’ belts are unnecessarily cumbersome).
Details:Pilsen. Thalia Hall. 7 and 10 p.m. $28–$78. eventbrite.com
Jonathas de Andrade: One to One
For his first major solo U.S. exhibition, the Brazilian artist displays photographs, videos, and installations showing both the beauty of his native country and the overlooked narratives of its poorest citizens, especially amid the government’s aggressive push for modernization.
Details:Streeterville. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. $8–$15. mcachicago.org
The New Zealand native has a name fit for dystopian fiction, but the singer-songwriter is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary folk. (Lorde once called her “the most interesting musician around.”) On 2017’s Party, Harding evokes a stripped-down Kate Bush with eerie gothic ballads that feel beamed in from some mythic past. You’ll probably hear songs from her forthcoming third record, which has her reuniting with the venerable John Parish, the composer and producer best known for his work with PJ Harvey.
Details:Ukrainian Village. Empty Bottle. 9 p.m. $12. eventbrite.com
Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford: Garden Gipsoteca
In this outdoor installation, part of the Arts Club of Chicago’s Garden Project series, the local artist combines his interests in history and mass production to create a wholly new take on the gipsoteca, or gallery of plaster casts. Hulsebos-Spofford uses sundry objects — a marble Hercules, a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker — to create a column of heads and beards, a twisted assemblage of “classical” sculpture.
Details:Streeterville. Arts Club of Chicago. Free. artsclubofchicago.org
Raúl Esparza is an accomplished stage actor, with four Tony nominations to his name for works spanning from musicals to Mamet, but Chicago audiences might know him better from his six seasons as ADA Rafael Barba on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. Esparza, who started his career in Chicago theater in the early ’90s, returns to play Shakespeare’s revenge-seeking, doubt-plagued prince in Chicago Shakes’s latest staging of Denmark’s finest.
Details:Near North Side. Chicago Shakespeare Theater. $48–$88. chicagoshakes.com
Chicago Cocktail Social
Those who understand (or can at least pretend to understand) concepts like “notes” and “aeration” when it comes to liquor will feel at home at this all-you-can-drink party. In its sixth year, the who’s who of the city’s adult-beverage scene features gourmet catering and inventive cocktails from bars like Scofflaw, the Heavy Feather, and the Violet Hour.
Details:River West. Galleria Marchetti. 6:30 p.m. $55–$65. greencurtainevents.com
Since 2004, Synapse Arts has curated a handful of world premieres biannually from up-and-coming performers. In this installment, Synapse dancer Amanda Ramirez is joined by interdisciplinary artist Nora Sharp and Loyola alums Yariana Baralt Torres and Maria Blanco — collectively known as Loud Bodies — who will use dance to explore sexual orientation and expression.
Details:Lake View. Hamlin Fieldhouse. $10–$20. synapsearts.com
Ax Plays Brahms
Usually when a concerto appears on a major orchestra’s program, it’s slotted in like the B in ABC, where A is an overture or other short crowd pleaser and C the meaty symphony after intermission. Here the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gives the ebullient Emanuel Ax the marquee postintermission spot, slating his take on Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 last, after a first half of Bartok and Debussy.
Details:Loop. Symphony Center. $35–$224. cso.org
First Love Is the Revolution
Steep Theatre has a remarkable track record of introducing Chicago audiences to terrific contemporary playwrights from the United Kingdom who are still largely unknown stateside — the likes of Simon Stephens, Alistair McDowall, and Cordelia Lynn. This comedy from Australian-born, London-based writer Rita Kalnejais delivers a fantastical story, in which a sensitive teenage boy and a young vixen — as in a female fox — fall in interspecies love.
Details:Edgewater. Steep Theatre. $27–$38. steeptheatre.com
Married nuclear physicists Hazel and Robin, sharing a seaside cottage in the aftermath of a Fukushima-style disaster at the power plant where they worked, are visited by another former colleague with a hidden agenda in British playwright Lucy Kirkwood’s suspenseful drama. Among the mysteries it tackles: the question of just what kind of legacy aging generations think they’re leaving. Director Jonathan Berry’s top-tier cast includes Janet Ulrich Brooks and Yasen Peyankov.
Details:Lincoln Park. Steppenwolf Theatre. $44–$86. steppenwolf.org
Broken Nose Theatre stages the Midwest premiere of Yussef El Guindi’s dark comedy about a translator for the Department of Homeland Security whose loyalties come into question thanks to unfortunate office gossip. The translator is played here by Salar Ardebili, whose performance was the beating heart (and exposed nerve) of Interrobang Theatre Project’s similarly themed I Call My Brothers earlier
Details:Wicker Park. Den Theatre. $5–$40. brokennosetheatre.com
Julia Schmitt Healy
Since her days as a student at the School of the Art Institute in the 1960s and ’70s, this Chicago Imagists affiliate has worked across a variety of media, from painting and drawing to photography and sculpture, producing compositions that are sometimes irreverent but always radiant. Now based in New York, Healy returns to town for this solo exhibition, which will showcase soft sculptures and a series of ballpoint pen drawings applied to handkerchiefs, all made in the early 1970s.
Details:West Town. Western Exhibitions. Free. westernexhibitions.com
The heavy, dark, and anguished L.A. band is far from representative of its hometown’s green juice and yoga contingent (its latest album is called Vol. 4: Slaves of Fear). The rave-ready group earned the notice of music publications more than a decade ago alongside fellow glitchy noise-punks like Crystal Castles — but Health’s bleak, antiestablishment bangers feel even better suited for our current dystopia.
Details:West Loop. Bottom Lounge. 8:30 p.m. $20–$25. ticketweb.com
Sound of Silent Film Festival
Access Contemporary Music loads another reel of its biggest blockbuster: live performances of new music scored to accompany modern silent films. Composers who write for instrumental chamber ensembles get paired with shorts, some from established directors’ early work and some submitted by up-and-comers. For new-music novices, the brevity of the movies and their appeal to a second sense can make relatively challenging compositions go down like popcorn.
Details:Lincoln Square. Davis Theater. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $15–$25 per show; $35 for both. acmusic.org
I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard
In Halley Feiffer’s 2015 drama, a young actress who’s just opened her first off-Broadway show stays up waiting for the reviews with her father, a famous playwright whose approval she craves; when the action later jumps ahead by five years, the power dynamics have reversed. Feiffer, herself an actor as well as a writer, is the daughter of the famed cartoonist, screenwriter, and playwright Jules Feiffer, so she may know a few things about dynastic fame. First Floor Theater, one of the city’s savviest storefront operations, stages the Chicago premiere.
Details:Wicker Park. Den Theatre. $20–$25. firstfloortheater.com
These D.C. punks make protest music that feels like a primal scream from the soul. Ferocious lead singer Katie Alice Greer and company grapple with some weighty subject matter — Bodies and Control and Money and Power, in the words of their 2014 debut album — but there’s plenty of catharsis to be found in the guitar riffs alone. Priests’ eagerly anticipated new record, The Seduction of Kansas, is out early this month.
Details:Lincoln Park. Lincoln Hall. 7:30 p.m. $15. lh-st.com
This hard-belting, soul-searching Irish paragon is one of the greatest singers alive, with a glottal, smoky voice that raises the highest rafters and digs into the rawest of human emotions. The man behind “Gloria,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” and “Wild Night” isn’t forging everlasting songs like those any longer, but at 73 years old he’s still managed to produce five new albums in the past three years. Maybe you’ll wait until the next time he comes to town, but will there be a next time?
Details:Loop. Chicago Theatre. 7 p.m. $290–$1,028. ticketmaster.com
Across the Pond
The Joffrey Ballet’s final show of the season celebrates British phenoms, with works by Royal Ballet choreographer-in-residence Liam Scarlett and rising stars Andrew McNicol and Andrea Walker. The latter two are making world premieres, complemented by the company debut of Vespertine, Scarlett’s abstract ode to music of the baroque period.
Details:Loop. Auditorium Theatre. $35–$173. joffrey.org
The Paramount Theatre in west suburban Aurora has been racking up accolades ever since it began mounting its own seasons of musicals in 2011, frequently dominating at the Jeff Awards. August Rush, based on the 2007 movie about an orphan and musical prodigy searching for his birth parents, is Paramount’s first world premiere musical; with commercial backers and talent like Tony-winning director John Doyle attached, consider this Aurora’s first pre-Broadway tryout.
Details:Aurora. Paramount Theatre. $36–$69. paramountaurora.com
“Wilt thou not chase the white whale?” Chicago Opera Theater takes up Ahab’s exhortation and stages Jake Heggie’s contemporary setting for Herman Melville’s swallow-the-world epic. Supporting COT’s energetic embrace of the rare and new, Heggie’s Moby-Dick has landed raves — and, strikingly, several new renditions, including this coproduction with four other companies — since its 2010 premiere.
Details:Loop. Harris Theater. $45–$145. chicagooperatheater.org
Chicago Humanities Festival
It’s everyone’s favorite yearlong TED conference, except this one sets you back $60 instead of $10,000. The spring installment kicks off CHF’s “Year of Power,” which aims to dissect personal and systemic power through more than 25 panels and speaking events. Must-see guests include Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s outspoken 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate; Jennifer Egan, author of the celebrated novels Manhattan Beach and A Visit From the Goon Squad; and Charlene Carruthers, popular local activist and author of Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements.
Details:Various locations. $10–$60. chicagohumanities.org
Eric J. Garcia: The Bald Eagle’s Toupee
This Minneapolis artist doesn’t mince words: In his bold, graphic works (be they illustrations or gallery-size installations), he satirizes everything from the current presidential administration to the widespread sugarcoating of Martin Luther King Jr.’s radical politics. For this solo show, staged in conjunction with the National Veterans Art Museum as part of its first-ever triennial, Garcia has created a two-room installation consisting of a mural, an interactive video game, sculpture, and other elements, all intended to draw attention to the militarization of the United States.
Details:Lincoln Park. DePaul Art Museum. Free. resources.depaul.edu/art-museum
Rachel Barton Pine and Jory Vinikour
Last spring, these locally based, internationally renowned baroque specialists released a trim and tidy album of J.S. Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord. Here they sample from that LP, as well as show their solo Bach chops — Pine on one of the ever-fresh partitas for solo violin and Vinikour on a French-style keyboard overture.
Details:Woodlawn. Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago. 7:30 p.m. $10–$38. chicagopresents.uchicago.edu
Fast Food Chain
The teen- and tween-focused theater company Adventure Stage Chicago premieres Andrew Marikis’s new play, which borrows themes from Igbo folktales for its story about an aspiring young chef whose family doesn’t always have enough food on the table. The show was developed with input from local kids and families who receive services such as food and education from Adventure Stage’s parent organization, Northwestern Settlement.
Details:Noble Square. Vittum Theater. $12–$17. adventurestage.org
Alberto Aguilar: Moves at Human Scale
The University of Illinois at Chicago professor behind this solo exhibit frequently makes site-specific works (like leaving a line of flower petals in a Cuban park) or stages ephemeral events (such as recruiting an unknown couple at City Hall and planning their wedding reception). This show will display documentation of some of these fleeting projects.
Details:Near West Side. Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago. Free. gallery400.uic.edu
Reaching his fourth anniversary as host of The Daily Show, this comedian has earned a formidable reputation beyond “successor to Jon Stewart,” coming into his own as a humorist and voice of truth in a fraught media landscape. Noah’s standup navigates the absurdities of racism and the cultural shock of being an immigrant in America.
Details:Near West Side. United Center. 8 p.m. $35–$225. ticketmaster.com
Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham might have the most beloved band in Chicago right now. They’ve sung backup for Chance the Rapper and Twin Peaks, toured with Tweedy (the side project of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer), and collaborated with just about any hometown hero you can recall. On 2018’s Parts, the multi-instrumentalists craft art-rock that’s warm, weird, and Chicago to the core.
Details:Avondale. Sleeping Village. 9 p.m. $12–$14. etix.com
Liz Magor: Blowout
This solo exhibition, featuring newly commissioned work, deftly pairs the Canadian artist’s obsession with commonplace objects with her interest in exploring the boundaries of comfort. Magor has constructed display cases for myriad found objects, such as a strand of tinsel or stuffed animals. One installation displays 30 pairs of secondhand shoes, each in its own glittering box.
Details:Hyde Park. Renaissance Society, University of Chicago. Free. renaissancesociety.org
Hamilton: The Exhibition
In this brand-new pop-up museum, which debuts in Chicago before heading to other cities, Hamilton fans can experience the most pivotal moments of the country’s history courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s voice-over narration.
Details:Near South Side. Northerly Island. $25–$40. hamiltonexhibition.com
“I’ve left Earth in search of darker planets,” declares this gender-nonbinary Twin Cities native in the poem “Dear White America,” which went viral (for poetry) thanks to a spirited reading captured on YouTube. In the National Book Award–nominated collection that the work comes from, Don’t Call Us Dead, Smith gives an unflinching portrayal of grief, desire, and identity, yet the firmness is loosened up by elements of fantasy.
Details:Near North Side. Poetry Foundation. 7 p.m. Free. poetryfoundation.org
Dance Scavenger Hunt
Chicago Dance Month draws to a close with a search for treasures along the Riverwalk. Beginning near the bend at Wacker and Michigan, participants roam the riverfront garden to collect dance-themed clues and prizes while taking in pop-up performances by an eclectic group of companies. The journey ends at City Winery for food, drink, and, of course, a dance party for all.
Details:Loop. Chicago Riverwalk. 4:30 p.m. Free. seechicagodance.com
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