Friday, February 17, 2012

Charlotte's newest arts center: Stonecrest

Now that the Metropolitan Opera has helped turn multiplexes into performing-arts centers, this probably was inevitable: the Saturday afternoon cultural double feature.

I doubt that the Stonecrest theater planned it this way. So it isn't an official double bill. But look what you can do: first, make acquaintance with a trailblazing choreographer whose work has never been seen in Charlotte; second, experience a famously monumental symphony that's unlikely to be performed in Charlotte in the foreseeable future.

"Pina," (photo at right) Wim Wenders' film about the choreographer Pina Bausch, is starting its second week at Stonecrest. That lines it up with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's high-definition relay of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 -- the "Symphony of as Thousand," nicknamed for the massive number of players and singers it sets loose.

"Pina" has attracted notice because it not only showcases the late Bausch -- who often is credited with blending the art forms of dance and theater -- but it shows long stretches of her works in 3-D. I have yet to see it. But here's a testimony: A friend of mine who isn't particularly a dance lover enjoyed it because of the sheer visual impact of the 3-D sequences.

Mahler's titanic symphony will be transmitted live from a concert hall in Caracas, Venezuela. The LA Philharmonic will perform alongside Venezuela's best-known export other than oil: the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, which is famous as the product of a music-education system that gives opportunities to children who otherwise have none. Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Philharmonic's music director -- and a product of the Venezuelan system -- will conduct.

Here's how it could work Saturday afternoon. There's a "Pina" showing at 1:35. The theater's website says the movie lasts an hour and 44 minutes. You could see it -- for $11.50 -- then have time for a break before Mahler begins at 5 p.m. Tickets for that are $20 for adults, $16 for children.

Nobody has to see both, of course. "Pina" will run at least through Feb. 23. So if you can't spare all afternoon Feb. 18, and you like music, you probably should aim for Mahler's Eighth. There's no telling when the Charlotte Symphony might ever be able to afford to perform it. And if there was ever a piece that can't quite come across through a CD or DVD in your living room, this is it.