The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here
• Epic exhibit: “Violins of Hope,” a collection of restored stringed instruments originally played by European Jews forced into Nazi ghettos and death camps during World War II, is a project that powerfully renminds us that music, art and humanity can persevere in the midst of astounding evil. The touring exhibit has landed in the Bay Area, which will host the violins at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco and see a series of related concerts, discussions and demonstrations in various venues over the next several weeks. Jan. 19 marks the premiere of a new work by Jake Heggie commissioned for the project. A complete roundup of events and more information is at violinsofhopesfba.org.
• A Pianist’s story: Not to get all heavy or anything, but opening in Mountain View this weekend is another show (see Item 1) about music and perseverance in the face of evil. “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is pianist/actress Mona Golabek’s stirring solo show about her mother — a young musician who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria during World War II and later survived the London Blitz — and the music that helped her endure excruciating times. The show, adapted from Golabek’s memoir and directed by Hershey Felder, who’s had a string of stage hits exploring the life and music of various composers, is presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. It’s in previews through Jan. 17, with a main run of Jan. 18-Feb. 16 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $30-$100; theatreworks.org.
• Got a basketball Jones? Bay Area basketball fans are used to seeing the Warriors having their way with opponents and doing so with style and pizzazz. Not this year. But this weekend, a basketball team is coming to the Bay Area that always wins, makes eye-popping passes and sinks incredible shots. We’re talking about the Harlem Globetrotters, who bring their family-friendly and often funny show to San Jose’s SAP Center and the Oakland Arena for five games between Jan. 17-20. Tickets are $25-$175 at www.harlemglobetrotters.com.
• Back to Bach: While all the rest of the classical music world seems to be turning to Beethoven in this, his 250th anniversary year, the Avedis Chamber Music players are determined to follow their custom and open their 35th season with the annual “Bach and Friends” concert. Johann Sebastian wins the honors with performances of his glorious Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and the Trio Sonata in C minor from “The Musical Offering.” The friends who get the nod are Vivaldi, for his Trio in G minor, and Telemann, for the Quartet in D minor, “Tafelmusic.” Concert time is 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Gunn Theater in the lavish French neoclassical environs of the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. Find tickets, $21-$32, at 415-392-4400 or www.avedisconcerts.org.
• Just another life stage: There is a corollary to that old adage about death and taxes. What is also unavoidable, for those of us still drawing breath, is getting older. But if we all gotta do it, we might be wise to take some advice from brilliant neuroscientist and and successful author Daniel Levitin, whose new book, “Successful Aging,” bears the subtitle “A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives.” The part-time Orinda resident’s other bestselling titles include “This Is Your Brain on Music,” “The Organized Mind” and “A Field Guide to Lies.” The new work dispenses some practical, research-based evidence that it is possible to live better as we live longer. Levitin talks about the book at 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at Orinda Books, 276 Village Square, Orinda. Find info at www.orindabooks.com.