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Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter

End your week with a bit of culture to unwind and refresh. Sign up for our surprising and inspiring options in our weekly newsletter, delivered on Thursdays with news about Bay Area arts and entertainment.

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.

• A song and dance show: If you missed February’s sold-out performance of that totally cool collaboration between the prize-winning San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Berkeley Ballet Theater, fret not: “Rightfully Ours,” a choral and dance work honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage that gave women the right to vote will launch the chorus’ monthlong Virtual Festival on their YouTube channel at 7 p.m. June 5. The program features eight new pieces of choreography created for BBT’s Studio Company set to choral works by eight living composers, including Meredith Monk and Steve Reich. More than two dozen dancers and 40 singers are joined by guest artists, the Amaranth Quartet and The Living Earth Show. The festival continues throughout the month with three more streamed programs, posting on Fridays. For more information, visit www.sfgirlschorus.org.


• Readers delight: San Francisco author and high school teacher Anne Raeff, a California Book Award silver medalist, will discuss her new novel, “Only the River” (Counterpoint, $26, 303 pages) with another popular writer, “After the Parade” novelist Lori Ostlund at a virtual event hosted by the Lafayette Library and Learning Center at 4 p.m. June 7. Their conversation, part of the library’s Distinguished Speaker Series, will center on Raeff’s tale of a young girl who flees with her family from war-torn Vienna to a new life in Nicaragua and gets uprooted from her connections there when they move again to New York. Register with your email at www.lllcf.org to receive an invitation to the Zoom event, or call the library at 925-283-6513, ext. 102 for more information.


“Conjoined Twins” is among the photos you can view at Contemporary Jewish Museum’s virtual exhibit, “Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years.” (Photo courtesy of the Contemporary Jewish Museum)

• Shuttered exhibit shines again:  A couple of months ago the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco opened a new exhibit exploring the photographic wonders of New York’s famed Zohar Studios, which in the 19th century amassed a sizable and stunning collection of some of photography’s earliest portraits. The exhibit, “Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years,” had been open all of six hours when the museum was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now it’s back as a virtual exhibit on CJM’s website. The exhibit was created by Los Angeles-based photographer Stephen Berkman, a Bay Area native, who immersed himself in a variety of early photographic techniques to restore and assemble part of the collection Jewish immigrant Shimmel Zohar housed in his historic Lower East Side gallery. The museum’s website also offers glimpses of other works, videos and a fun blog that muses on everything from the odd relationship between Stanley Kubrick and Vladimir Nabokov to a recipe for Jewish chicken. Check it out at www.thecjm.org.


• Low-fi concerts: For some 40 years, the Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy in San Pablo has been teaching Mexican music, dance and arts to East Bay youth. The instruction has gone virtual since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and while it has been common for the talented youth trained at Los Cenzontles to stage concerts and recitals for the community, that’s just not possible now. So the academy this week kicked off the Front Porch Sessions, a collection of seven videos featuring music and dance numbers performed by members of youth group Los Cenzontles Juvenil — outside their homes. Three of the festive, addictive videos, directed by filmmaker James Hall and crew, have been posted on the academy’s Facebook page. The rest of the numbers will be uploaded over the next week. At a time when the academy has been a lifeline of important information to a community hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, it’s nice to be reminded how much joy it can bring to area youth — and to all of us. More information and links to the videos can be found at www.loscenzontles.com.


Tom Hiddleston stars in the National Theatre production of “Coriolanus,” available for streaming through San Jose’s Hammer Theatre Center. (Photo by Johan Persson/National Theatre/Hammer Theatre)

• Virtual Bard: In addition to hosting a wide variety of touring and local dance, theater and music performances, San Jose’s Hammer Theatre Center has been a popular place to catch productions from London’s storied National Theatre, broadcast on a big screen. Both the National Theatre and the Hammer are closed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but the show goes on. The Hammer has been streaming National Theatre productions for the past month and has one more show left on its schedule — and it’s a doozy. From June 4-11, you can catch Tom Hiddleston in Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus.” Hiddleston may be best known to Americans for his work in the “Avengers” movies, but Brits are well-acquainted with his serious stage and Shakespearian credentials. And “Coriolanus” — about a once-popular leader facing famine, upheaval and angry mobs in ancient Rome — is one of those Bard plays that seems more relevant than ever. The streaming is free but donations are encouraged. Go to hammertheatre.com