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.

Freebie of the week: They might not get the attention of the Bay Area’s best-known musicians, comedians or thespians, but circus artists have long played a vital part of the Bay Area entertainment scene. These days, you can catch them five days a week in “Dear San Francisco,” a rollicking 90-minute circus show at Club Fugazi performed by The 7 Fingers troupe, led by co-artistic directors Gypsy Snider and Shana Carroll. And when summer comes, we can look forward to the annual tour by Circus Bella, an outfit co-founded and directed by Abigail Munn. Like her counterparts at 7 Fingers, Munn got her start at San Francisco’s legendary New Pickle Circus, a troupe born in the 1970s which hatched the careers of such performers as Geoff Hoyle and Bill Irwin. Circus Bella is serving up its 14th annual free summer show featuring acrobatics, aerial stunts, juggling  and clowning, all backed by live music from Rob Reich and the six-piece Circus Bella All-Star Band. Circus Bella’s new show “Bananas!” debuts 5 p.m. Thursday with a preview performance at DeFremery Park, 1651 Adeline St., Oakland. After a quick SoCal jaunt, Circus Bella returns to the Bay Area for shows at parks in Richmond, San Francisco and Oakland June 18 through July 16. For the schedule and more information, go to

Pianist Sarah Cahill will school audiences in the evolution of the musical form of the chaconne at a free recital in Mountain View. (Courtesy Kristen Wrzesniewski)

 Yet another freebie: What the heck is a chaconne, anyway? Basically, it’s a musical form dating from the Baroque period that consists of a four or eight-note harmonic pattern that repeats indefinitely—and it’s much more clearly apprehended in the hearing of it than in the describing. Bay Area pianist and classical radio host Sarah Cahill is primed and ready to get us acquainted with and appreciative of it in a free recital at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Mountain View’s Tateuchi Hall sponsored by the Community School of Music and Arts. Over the course of the evening, Cahill will trace the evolution of the chaconne from its 17th-century origins to today, playing music by Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (born 1665), George Frideric Handel, Henry Purcell, Cécile Chaminade, Carl Nielsen, Stefan Wolpe, Sofia Gubaidulina and San Francisco’s Danny Clay, whose “Still Cycles” was composed for her in 2016 and inspired by the Handel Chaconne in G Major that is also on the program. Admission is free at 230 San Antonio Circle, and seating is unreserved but limited. Find information at

Classic cars of all types will light up Redwood City’s Courthouse Square during the city’s annual Car Show on June 10. (Courtesy Redwood City Downtown)

This one’s free too: Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, the Bay Area’s fair and festival season graduates from a steady drizzle to an all-hands-on-deck deluge, with more events on tap than any supercomputer could tabulate. We won’t even try to keep up, but we’re happy to spread the word on some fun events that could otherwise pass you by. Like Redwood City’s third annual Car Show on Saturday. OK, maybe they could have come with a snazzier name for it, but who are we to gripe about a free event that serves up a shiny collection of vintage, custom, classic, sports and muscle cars competing for prizes, plus live music from Amanda and The Issues, a wide variety of food trucks and vendors, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages and other fun stuff. The fun takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the city’s Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, which keeps fairly active during the year with a variety of concerts and other events. More information on the Car Show and other goings-on is at

The late Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s dramatic opera, “Adriana Mater,” will be performed in a semistaged concert version at the San Francisco Symphony this weekend. (Courtesy Andrew Campbell)

In memoriam: A lethal brain tumor took preeminent Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho from us just last week, but her legacy will be honored in Davies Hall this weekend as her friend Esa-Pekka Salonen leads his San Francisco Symphony through three performances of her magnificent opera, “Adriana Mater,” staged for a concert version by the theater world’s Peter Sellars, to whom it is dedicated and who led its world premiere at the Opera Bastille in Paris in 2006. A dramatic —some would say stark — wartime opera with a libretto by novelist Amin Maalouf, the work revolves around the woman of the title and her son, conceived during a rape, who vows to kill his father when he learns of the truth. Mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron takes the title role, and tenor Nicholas Phan sings as her son Yonas. Director Sellars will be on hand for preconcert talks an hour before each performance, which take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, $35-$165, are available at and 415-864-6000. 

Starring in “Steel Magnolias” for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley are, clockwise from upper left, Dawn L. Troupe, Marcia Pizzo, Alexandra Lee and Lisa Strum. (Karen Santos/Courtesy TheatreWorks Silicon Valley)

“Magnolias” in bloom: Most people are probably most familiar with “Steel Magnolias” from the 1989 film starring Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah as a tight-knit group of Southern women who hang out at a local beauty parlor to dish gossip and stories and guide each other through the joys and tragedies that accompany life. But the film was adapted from Robert Harling’s 1987 play he reportedly wrote to deal with his grief at losing his sister to diabetes shortly after she gave birth to his namesake nephew. The play stemmed from a short story Harling intended as a way to tell his nephew about his mother and her close group of friends. But the work evolved into a play that eventually enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run before being adapted into the iconic 1989 film and into another hit film in 2012 with an all-Black cast including Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Condola Rashad, Adepero Oduye, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard. Now TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is reviving the stage version with a multi-ethnic cast helmed by Elizabeth Carter in her TheatreWorks directing debut. The more diverse casting is intended, as TheatreWorks puts it, to offer “a deeper look at how women from various backgrounds regard the sanctity of having their hair ‘done.’” It is still likely, however, to serve up the mixture of tears and giggles that have made the timeless portrait of sisterhood such an American classic. “Steel Magnolias” runs Wednesday through July 2 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Tickets are $29-$82; go to 

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