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Short List: November 26 - December 2

Igudesman and Joo cut up at the PSO; Obsessions show opens at Space; Eddie Ifft plays the Improv; poet Marcus Wicker reads at Point Park

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SPOTLIGHT: Fri., Nov. 28 — Music

Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo hope their sketch-comedy show BIG Nightmare Music will "wake up all the sleeping, dying people" in Heinz Hall. Serious musicians underneath clown wigs, the duo watched classical concerts become "elitist, spiteful fossils." Touring internationally, they have sought to rectify this with mops, Irish stepdance and other bizarre antics. Igudesman, a pianist from Leningrad, and Joo, a British-Korean violinist, met at a British music school and rose to fame through YouTube videos. They've since welcomed fans and collaborators like Billy Joel. This weekend, they make their Pittsburgh premiere with two shows, ensnaring the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in organized lunacy. Joo promises the usually refined and reserved PSO will "sing, dance, scream, shout, cry and laugh" in a wild "tour de force." In addition to the pair's adaptions of pop hits, like Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," the PSO commissioned Igudesman and Joo to compose a mash-up arrangement, "An Austrian in America," for PSO's very own Austrian in America, music director Manfred Honeck. The work blends popular American and Austrian tunes, and features titles like "Schubert Loves America" and "Oh My Darling Johann Strauss." The jokesters will give a pre-concert talk, promising, as Joo says, to not "make fun of music," but "make fun with music." Danielle Fox 7:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 28. Also 2:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 30. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $25.75-105.75. 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org

 

Fri., Nov. 28 — Kids

Need somewhere to take the kids the day after Thanksgiving? The Mattress Factory's Family Day has art-themed fun, with a circus twist. The museum offers: a mask-making party; a building-to-building scavenger hunt; hot cider and popcorn; and more. But the centerpiece is a workshop that lets kids build a little circus with resident artist Ben Sota, learning the German wheel, juggling and tight-wire skills. Family Day events are free with museum admission. Bill O'Driscoll 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. $10-15 (free for kids 6 and under). 412-231-3169 or www.mattress.org

Fri., Nov. 28 — Marketplace

Black Friday also launches the local holiday craft-selling season. Today and tomorrow, roving marketplace I Made It! For the Holidays pops up Downtown with more than 80 local artisans peddling handmade goods from clothes to candles, jam to jewelry. (There's even free parking.) Tomorrow, I Made It and Think Shadyside offer the first of four smaller weekly pop-ups, with 20 artists vending everything from print art to vegan baked goods. Also on Saturday, new outfit Second Shift Crafters (dedicated to crafters with day jobs) presents its inaugural holiday event, including some three dozen vendors, food trucks, live music and more. BO I Made It Downtown: 2-8 p.m. Also 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., Nov. 29 (623 Smithfield St.). IMI Shadyside: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (5500 Walnut St.). Second Shift: Noon-6 p.m. (3401 Liberty Ave., Lawrenceville; www.secondshiftcrafters.com).

Obsessions at Space
  • Art by Jason Lockyer

Fri., Nov. 28 — Art

Local artist Tom Sarver is preoccupied with obsession. "I've been thinking about this show idea for a few years, looking for artists that exhibit a certain intensity in their work," he says. For Obsessions, opening tonight with a reception at Space, Sarver has curated works by six artists. Pittsburgh-based contributors include cut-paper artist Laurie Trok and Becky Slemmons, whose ongoing performance work is titled "Obsessive Love." Mary Ivy Martin (of Brooklyn) obsesses on trees and plants; Nathan Margoni (Michigan) builds oversized sculptures reimagining human anatomy; Jeremiah Johnson (Williamsport, Pa.) paints and makes prints about personal experiences; and Jason Lockyer, of Los Angeles, makes hand-drawn animations about insects. BO 6-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through Jan. 25. 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. 412-325-7723 or www.spacepittsburgh.org

Eddie Ifft at the Improv

Fri., Nov. 28 — Comedy

The Onion has called Eddie Ifft one of the most underrated comics in America, and, for once, it wasn't joking. On his way up, he's released a special for Comedy Central, and is the host of the popular (but banned from iTunes for its offensive content) podcast, "Talkin' Shit." He's toured internationally and worked with names like Tommy Chong and Queen Latifah. The Pittsburgh-area native brings his dark, uncensored jokes to The Improv this week, in a stand that includes five more shows tonight through Sunday. Danielle Fox 8 and 10:30 p.m. Continues through Sun., Nov. 30. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, West Homestead. $17-20. 412-462-5233 or www.pittsburgh.improv.com

Fri., Nov. 28 — Comedy

Presenting "An Ode to Misfits and the Outcasts," comedians Krish Mohan, Kat Caringola, Derek Minto, Chelsea Swiethelm and Rob Speer band together tonight's premiere of The Secondhand Sketch Show. The Arcade Comedy Theater show is a mix of live and video sketches, plus musical numbers and monologues on a theme, but hitting on a variety of cultural topics. Secondhand is produced by Mohan, who is also on a house improv team at Arcade. DF 10 p.m. Also 10 p.m. Sat., Nov. 29. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $10. 412-339-0608 or www.arcadecomedytheater.com

Sat., Nov. 29 — Music

Happy 99th birthday to Pittsburgh jazz legend Billy Strayhorn. The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, the pianist and composer's partial namesake, celebrates tonight with birthday cake and live performances from local favorite Roger Humphries and his band, RH Factor, and guest vocalist Spanky Wilson. Brass quintet C Street Brass, from Carnegie Mellon University, will also help remember Strayhorn, an openly gay black man best known for his 30-year collaboration with Duke Ellington. A VIP reception precedes the annual Suite Life concert and mixer. DF 8 p.m. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $10-25 (VIP: $75). 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org

Sat., Nov. 29 — Comedy

Sick of listening to people argue around the dining-room table about what this world's coming to? Come listen to other people argue ... onstage! Tonight, in the midst of national attention to local doings, the John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy Talk Show asks whether Pittsburgh is "truly a buzzworthy tahn." McIntire's panelists are fashion designer Tereneh Mosley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor John Allison and comedian Michael Buzzelli (who's even got "buzz" in his name). It's all late-night at the Cabaret Theater. BO 10:30 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. $10 (free with same-night Cultural Trust ticket stub)

Sun., Nov. 30 — Screen

In 1926, a small-time silent-film comedian named Harry Langdon vaulted into the big leagues with Tramp Tramp Tramp, in which his simple-minded on-screen character enters a cross-country hiking contest to win money to marry the girl of his dreams. The girl was played by Joan Crawford, in one of her earliest starring roles. The comedy screens today as part of the Hollywood Theater's series Silents, Please!, its episodic antics scored live by ace local keyboardist Tom Roberts. BO 4 p.m. 1449 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $6-8. 412-563-0368 or www.thehollywooddormont.org

Festival of Voices concert, Hill District

Sun., Nov. 30 — Music

Local gospel talent is joined by a national name for tonight's Festival of Voices concert. Selected choirs from the region include Rev. Deryck Tines and the Lemington Chorale, the Victory Community Outreach Choir of McKeesport, and James Johnson and the Afro American Music Institute. The guest mistress of ceremonies and vocalist at Wesley Center AME Zion Church is Bishop Yvette Flunder (pictured), who's as well known nationally for her singing as she is for leading Oakland, Calif.'s radically inclusive City of Refuge church. The concert is presented by Family Hospice & Palliative Care. In lieu of admission, a free-will offering benefits charities including Family Hospice. BO 6 p.m. 2701 Centre Ave., Hill District. www.familyhospicepa.org

Marcus Wicker at Point Park University's

Wed., Dec. 3 — Words

"This isn't a poem / about some cowboy cracking up / over a blackface skit. How his cackle / sounded like a bigot's brain / lodged inside a beating heart, thinking / out loud." So writes Marcus Wicker in his love letter to Dave Chapelle — one of several love letters to celebrities in Wicker's debut collection, 2013's Maybe the Saddest Thing. Slate called the book "hip-deep in pop culture's energy" but also a reminder of that culture's loneliness. The award-winning poet, who teaches at University of Southern Indiana, reads tonight at Point Park University's Writers Speakers' Series. BO 6 p.m. Lawrence Hall, Room 200, 212 Wood St., Downtown. Free. 412-392-8184 or www.pointpark.edu

University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Photo courtesy of Brandon Spannbauer

Wed., Dec. 3 — Music

The students, faculty, staff and community members in the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform for free tonight in Bellefield Hall Auditorium. Music being the "most primal source of life and the wellspring of the life-feeling," as Danish composer Carl Nielsen put it, the orchestra's selections include Nielsen's Symphony No. 4, The Inextinguishable. Also on the program are Johannes Brahms's Double Concerto, with senior cellist Eric Gratta and violinist and director Roger Zahab (pictured) as soloists. DF 8 p.m. 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-624-4126 or www.music.pitt.edu

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