"Behold the monstrous human beast / Wallowing in excessive feast!" wrote Charles Jennens in the libretto for Belshazzar, Handel's oratorio about the king of Babylon. Music from that scene will be part of Wine, Women & Song, tonight's program by Ars Musica Chicago. Also included among the baroque-era arias, songs, and cantatas will be work from Jean-Baptiste Lully's Les fetes de l'Amour et de Bacchus and Henry Purcell's "When Night Her Purple Veil Had Softly Spread." Appearing as a guest performer will be harpsichordist, recorder virtuoso, and early-music expert Rene Clemencic, who has headed the Vienna-based Clemencic Consort for more than 30 years. A buffet dinner begins at 6, the show at 8 at Northeastern Illinois University's Fine Arts Building recital hall, 5500 N. Saint Louis, Chicago. Tickets are $40 with dinner or $15 for the concert only (students pay $35 or $12). To reserve a spot call 312-409-7874.
The Chicago Greens--one of the groups that used to organize Chicago's annual Earth Day festivities--started boycotting the event two years ago, when Com Ed became its primary corporate sponsor. This year Earth Day has been canceled altogether due to "today's uncertain funding climate," says the Chicago Earth Month Coalition, which is encouraging people to visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Sunday instead. Meanwhile, the Greens are holding a free lineup of lectures called Earthday: From Chernobyl to Baghdad, which will address such topics as the use of depleted uranium missiles in Iraq, environmental terrorism, clean-air struggles at the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Little Village and Pilsen, and the transport of high-level radio-active waste through Illinois to Nevada's Yucca Mountain (part of a measure signed into law by the president several months ago). It runs from 10 to 3 today at Columbia College's Ferguson Auditorium, 600 S. Michigan in Chicago; bring your lunch. For more call 312-939-2539.
The Field Museum's Eternal Egypt: Master-works of Ancient Art From the British Museum exhibit opened yesterday, exploring 3,000 years of Egyptian civilization through 155 works that complement the museum's permanent exhibit "Inside Ancient Egypt." To guide visitors through the maze of mummies and hieroglyphics, the Oriental Institute's Robert Ritner will give an illustrated lecture called "Eternity Held Captive: The Social and Reli-gious Context of Egyptian Art." It starts at 2 at the Field, located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and open from 9 to 5 today. Admission to the talk is $12 ($10 for students and teachers) plus museum admission ($10, $8 for Chicago residents, $4 for children under 11). To reserve a space call 312-665-7400.
"During India's first 50 years of independence there was an attempt to create a planned economy that would spread the wealth," says Ralph Nicholas, president of the American Institute of Indian Studies. It was a noble idea, but didn't induce much economic growth. Now, reforms put in place over the last few years are transforming the country: India has "opened up to something much more like a free market," says Nicholas, and "discovered that its highly educated labor force is one of its best exports." Nicholas will join Chicago's Indian consul general Surendra Kumar and Northwestern University historian Jock McLane for a panel discussion titled India: Diversity and Democracy, today at 4 at the North Shore Senior Center, 161 Northfield in Northfield. Sponsored by Connecting Cultures Through Understanding, the program will be followed by an Indian meal. Tickets for both discussion and dinner are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Call 847-446-9383 for reservations.
Igor Stravinsky composed The Soldier's Tale in 1918 as a reaction to World War I, but meant it to have universal resonance. Based on Russian folktales, the full-length multimedia work combines theater, dance, and jazz-inspired music to tell the Faustian story of a returning soldier who trades his violin for a magic book. Now, Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Chicago Theatre Company are collaborating on a production that features air force reservist William Summerville as a contemporary soldier, dancer Lili-Anne Brown as his love, baritone Alex Honzen as the narrator, and Light Opera Works artistic director Lara Teeter as the devil. Teeter is also directing and choreographing the piece, which will be performed tonight at 7:30 accompanied by a seven-member ensemble, at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. Also on the program: Paul Hindemith's Morning Music and Mozart's Piano Quartet in G Minor. Tickets are $28; $23 for seniors, $8 for students, and half price if you've never been to a Chicago Chamber Musicians' concert before. Call 312-225-5226. (The program will be repeated at 7:30 on April 28 at the DePaul University Concert Hall, 800 W. Belden in Chicago.)
Haskell Wexler's neorealist 1969 film Medium Cool was shot against the backdrop of the 1968 Democratic National Convention and involves a detached TV cameraman (Robert Forster) whose footage of a protest against racism in the media is seized by the FBI. He loses his job and gets to know an Appalachian woman (Verna Bloom) whose husband is in Vietnam. But it isn't until he films protesters getting clubbed by police that he finally loses his journalistic cool. Life imitated art five years later, when the feds subpoenaed tapes from Wexler's documentary about the Chicago Weathermen, Underground. Medium Cool shows tonight at 7 as part of Doc Films' Monday-night "Chicago Stories" series, which continues next week with Cooley High (1975). The screening's at the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th, Chicago. Admission is $4; call 773-702-8575.
"In the 1960s and 1970s, when...workers struggled for justice within their unions and workplaces, certain aspects of the society we lived in were considered to be permanent," writes former factory worker David C. Ranney in his new book, Global Decisions, Local Colli-sions: Urban Life in the New World Order. "At the time, we didn't have any idea we were in such a transitory state." Ranney, now a professor emeritus in UIC's College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washing-ton, D.C., examines how globalization has wiped out manufacturing jobs in Chicago and offers some possible solutions to the resulting social ills. He'll give a free reading tonight at 7 at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th in Chicago (773-684-1300).
Veronica Diaz opened her No Friction Cafe down the street from a Starbucks in Logan Square last year. She describes her place as "pretty multicultural," with programming that includes live jazz, poetry, dance workshops, game nights, and exhibits by local artists. She also offers high-speed Internet access for $5 an hour. "It's pretty friendly around here," she says. "I'm Mexican, and a lot of people try to be cute and start speaking Spanish with me." So tonight she'll launch Spanish conversation tables, an informal (and free) night of dialogue in which people can sip joe and improve their language skills at one of the mosaic-covered tables designed by Diaz. It runs from 6 to 8 at the cafe, 2502 N. California in Chicago (773-235-2757).
On March 21, the morning after hundreds of antiwar demonstrators were arrested following their procession up Lake Shore Drive, police took 60 more into custody for blocking the doors to the Dirksen Federal Building. "I was there holding a sign, and the police pushed me down onto the ground," says activist and longtime Chicago Greens member Lionel Trepanier, who contends that nonprotesters standing nearby were also locked up. He was in the clink for 23 hours, but others were there even longer. "There was no phone call, no blankets, no food. They turned away people with the bond money and wouldn't even let the families into the police station to post the bond." Trepanier was arrested for blocking the same doors after the U.S. began bombing Iraq in 1991; those charges were dropped. He and many of the people he was arrested with this time are scheduled to appear in court today, and the Greens are asking people to attend and wear red in solidarity--and in celebration of May Day. The hearings, which are open to the public, start at 9 AM at Branch 43-2 of the Cook County Circuit Court, 3150 W. Flournoy, Chicago. For more info call the Greens at 312-593-0996.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/John Booz, Dharampal Nanda.