All-Star Chamber Music Concert: The Richardson Chamber Music Society is the organization responsible for importing five top national musicians and music teachers from the top schools in the country. From Juilliard comes international medal winner and head of the piano department Jerome Lowenthal and violinist (as well as former classmate of the Dallas Symphony's Andrew Litton) Cho-Liang Lin; Harvard University violist-in-residence Toby Hoffman; and Richardson Chamber Music Society artistic director and chairman of the string department at the University of North Texas Phillip Lewis. The program includes compositions by Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Brahms. The concert kicks off at 8 pm in Caruth Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $8-$15. Call 385-7267.
Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Association of Oriental Art: In a world where art is disposed of if it doesn't reach out and knock you on the head with its virtues, the Association of Oriental Art quietly labors to preserve the ancient media of flower arranging and brush painting. In these disciplines, the form is the content and vice versa. An artist would labor his whole life trying to copy the style of his master, then once he reached that union with greatness, begin to branch away and find his own vision--all the while employing an extremely regimented technique, from a limited variety of subject matter to a specific number of brushstrokes per subject to special paint and brush materials suited only to that particular task. These days few of us have the subtlety of eye to detect the minutest differences between the ancient Oriental works of teacher and student, but they are there. Far Eastern Fantasy is the name of the Association's show, with floral exhibits provided by the Dallas and Fort Worth chapters of Ikebana International. Far Eastern Fantasy opens with a reception January 8, 2-4:30 pm (music provided by singer Sung Cheng Hua and pianist Ding Aiye), and runs through January 22 at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N MacArthur Blvd in Irving. It's free. Call 579-1548.
Toxic Tour of Texas: With America poised to join the World Trade Organization and a Republican Congress saber-rattling promises of unprecedented cuts in government regulatory agencies, the notion that businesses should be responsible to both the communities in which they reside and the environment at large is pretty unpopular. Why worry about a little toxic waste when the economic health of the country is at stake? Most of us don't...until some chemical corporation decides to take a dump on uninhabited land a few blocks from our homes. Houston-based photographer Sharon Stewart has spent the last five years traveling all over the state, listening to the tales of folks who've been forced to take action against businesses and government agencies whose waste habits threaten their friends and family members. She has collected 40 black-and-white photos of people and places and grouped them together in a show called Toxic Tour of Texas. The subject may not be an altogether pleasant one, but it demands your attention, since available landfill space becomes scarcer by the year. Toxic Tour of Texas is on display January 7 through February 8 at the Haggar Gallery of the University of Dallas, 1845 E Northgate Drive in Irving. It's free. For more information call 721-5319.
The Problem of Evil Once Again: We're living in a society that has, over the last decade, become increasingly hostile toward the suggestion that people do bad things--robbery, rape, murder--for reasons more complex than they're just plain evil. Many would insist that evil is not a problem at all, that some people are evil, and that's that. "The Problem of Evil Once Again," the latest presentation hosted by The Dallas Philosopher's Forum, conducted by Southern Methodist University professor Ben Petty, attempts to address the issue. In addition to the catastrophic financial costs of a penal system that seeks no solutions beyond incarceration and execution, the mantra that some people are "just that way" smacks of defensiveness--destructive behaviors are ghettoized, and "good" people are encouraged to ignore their own capacity for cruelty and selfishness. The Dallas Philosophers Forum convenes at the Wyatt's Cafeteria at Forest & Marsh. Admission is $4, and the meeting is open to the public. For information call 373-7216.
Avenue X: The Dallas Theater Center kicks off the New Year with a musical production that combines elements of 42nd Street, West Side Story, and an August Wilson play, all in a script that debuted to sold-out performances at New York's Playwrights Horizons less than a year ago and is still in the process of development. Indeed, writer and lyricist John Jiler and composer Ray Leslee have sat in throughout the rehearsal process of DTC's production of Avenue X, fine-tuning and streamlining the story of two street singers in 1960s Brooklyn--an African-American and an Italian--who combine their talents for a stage show and incur the wrath of their bigoted neighbors. All the songs in the show are a cappella (no instrumental accompaniment), and the vocal styles range from barbershop quartet to doo-wop to almost every other kind of popular harmony you can imagine. The Dallas Theater Center performs Avenue X Tuesday-Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2:30 & 8 pm; and Sunday at 2:30 & 7:30 pm through February 8 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Tickets are $9-$36. For more information call 522-TIXX.