Arts District: City Music, Busy Music

And more local arts news

It's a busier than usual performance week for CityMusic. In addition to the ensemble's regular program conducted by Gregory Vajda, the ensemble will perform a second program especially for kids. Directed by Damon Gupton, they'll play Prokofiev's classic introduction to the orchestra, Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Steve Moretti. Also on the program: Rossini's overture to the opera Tancredi. It's at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 17, at Fairmount Presbyterian Church (2757 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts., It's free.

Karamu House playwright-in-residence, Clevelander Michael Oatman, made The New York Times Sunday, April 11. Writer Erik Piepenburg saw Oatman's Eclipse: The War Between Pac and B.I.G., and used it to note that at least three plays have come from the grassroots to immortalize the rap star. Eclipse is onstage through Sunday, April 18, at Karamu House (2355 E. 89th St., 216.795.7070, Tickets: $15-$20.

Violinist and composer Mark O'Connor sounds like the offspring of Nicolo Paganini and Aaron Copland when he performs his solo violin capriccios. Like Copland's, O'Connor's compositions often put American musical influences in classical context —concertos, string quartets, even a new symphony — but with an emphasis on virtuosity. The list of people he's played with is a stylistic melting pot, beginning with his early violin mentors Benny Thomasson (an old-time fiddler from Texas) to French jazz violinist Stephane Grapelli, and continuing through recording and performances with David Grisman, Bela Fleck, Wynton Marsalis and Yo Yo Ma. In two method books published last fall, he gives classical-violin students exercises using American sounds. He performs a benefit at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Cleveland Institute of Music's Kulas Hall (11021 East Blvd., 216.791.5000, Tickets: $30.

Opera Cleveland is preparing for its 2010-2011 season, which will straddle the summer before returning to a traditional fall-to-spring schedule. It kicks off with Gaetano Donizetti's tale of brokenhearted madness, Lucia di Lammermoor, which opens May 20 in a new production directed by Tomer Zvulun (who directed La Boheme here in 2008). Artistic director Dean Williamson gives a preview talk about the opera, including a glimpse of the stage set, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 19, at the Beachwood Library (25501 Shaker Blvd., 216.575.0903, Admission: $7.

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