Calendar for the week

thursday
january 29
Phoenix Symphony: Though his songs remain widely popular with performers, composer Kurt Weill is one of the relatively unsung--in the other sense of the term--geniuses of 20th-century music. He was even dissed, posthumously, by his longtime collaborator Bertolt Brecht. Weill's stinging, brilliant work is featured in this concert, which includes his 1933 ballet The Seven Deadly Sins and his Little Threepenny Music. Mezzo-soprano Virginia Croskery sings with the Symphony, presumably filling in for Lotte Lenya; she's joined by male singers Daniel Kurek and Darrell Rowader (tenors), Ron Sautter (baritone) and Steven Meredith (bass). Also on the bill are selections from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, including the peerless "Summertime." Hermann Michael conducts, starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 29; and 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets are $14 and $38. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at the same venue, the Symphony, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, will hold an open house featuring a "musical instrument petting zoo" and other family-oriented activities, including two 45-minute miniconcerts, conducted by Clotilde Otranto. The concerts, at 2:30 and 4 p.m., cost a buck; all other activities are free. 262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza), 503-5555 (Dillard's).

John Matthew Richen: The shimmering, abstract bronze and iron shapes of architecture student turned sculptor Richen, which grace collections from the University of Chicago Medical School to the Scottsdale Mayo Clinic, are displayed starting Thursday, January 29, at C.G. Rein Galleries, 4235 North Marshall Way in Scottsdale. Richen will be present for a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday; the exhibition continues through Tuesday, February 10. Admission is free. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays (and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. 941-0900.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Sondheim puts a modern spin on the Plautine arcade comedy of ancient Rome in this, one of the funniest musical comedies the American theater has produced. The adventures of Psuedolus, the household slave who will win his freedom if he procures a virginal courtesan for his young master, are set to such tunes as "Comedy Tonight," "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" and "Lovely." Southwest Shakespeare Company presents the show. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 29; and the same time Friday, January 30; and Saturday, January 31, at Mountain View High School, 2700 East Brown in Mesa. Tickets, available from the Mesa Community Center box office or from Dillard's, are $20 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. The run continues through Saturday, February 7. 641-7039.

friday
january 30
Stringmania: Those of us to whom Shakespeare was referring when he wrote, "Is it not strange that sheeps' guts should hale souls out of men's bodies?" will have a hard time complaining that there's nothing to do in the Valley this week: The Muir String Quartet, now in its 18th season, plays a program of Mozart, Prokofiev and Dvorak at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18. The ensemble, named for naturalist John Muir, is in residence at Boston University School of Music. The Amabile String Quartet performs one of its "audience-friendly" programs at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $12 reserved, $10 general admission. Also at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West; and again at 8 p.m. Monday, February 2, at Cactus High School Auditorium, 6330 West Greenway Road in Glendale, cellist Sharon Robinson sits in with the Symphony of the West Valley for some Haydn, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. Tickets are $12, $16 and $20. At 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 2, at Bellevue Heights Church, 9440 Hutton Drive in Sun City, the Emerson String Quartet plays Beethoven and Charles Ives. Tickets are $14, $5 for full-time students. And if that's not enough to leave you strung out, the great Itzhak Perlman takes up the bow at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 3, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $28, $35 and $38. For Muir: 252-0095. For Amabile: 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's). For Sharon Robinson: 975-1900 (the 'dome). For Emerson: 972-0478. For Perlman: 965-3434 (Gammage), 503-5555 (Dillard's). Whew.

Huayucultia: This band of five, variously from Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S., adds a dash of jazz and a pinch of Aztec spice to the folk music of the Andes. Pronounced why-yoo-cal-tee-ah, the moniker is an Aztec word for "brotherhood." The quintet takes the stage at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Tickets are $15 reserved, $13 general admission. At 10:30 a.m. the same day, the group performs a "Coffee at Kerr" program. Admission to this is free, but reservations are requested. 965-5377 (Kerr), 503-5555 (Dillard's).

Diary of a Skokie Girl: Caryn Bark wrote and stars in this "Jewish answer to Nunsense," a one-woman show about growing up Jewish in the title suburb. Theater League presents the production. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, January 31; and 2 p.m. Sunday, February 1, at the Viad Playhouse on the Park, 1850 North Central. Tickets are available at Dillard's for $19.50 and $22.50. The run continues through Friday, February 20. 503-5555.

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