PSO plays 'The B-Sides'
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's composer of the year is electronic-influenced composer Mason Bates. This week he returns to Heinz Hall, Downtown, to perform electronica in his orchestral work, "The B-Sides," which he describes as "concise, off-kilter symphonic pieces that ... incorporate the grooves and theatrics of electronica in a highly focused manner. So, like the forgotten bands from the flip side of an old piece of vinyl, 'The B-Sides' offers brief landings on a variety of peculiar planets ...."
Pianist Emanuel Ax will return, as well, to perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25. Leonard Slatkin conducts those and Sergei Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $20; 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org.
It's a big night for 10 finalists who will compete in the "American Idol"-like competition Campus Superstar at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.
The race began back in November with more than 150 singers auditioning and 30 moving on to the second round. The final 10, representing the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne and Point Park universities, will compete for a grand prize of $5,000 before a panel of judges consisting of WTAE-TV news anchor Wendy Bell, jazz singer Etta Cox, TV producer/writer Maxine Lapiduss, and actor/drama critic Richard Rauh. Larry Richert is the master of ceremonies.
The event raises money that supports programs at The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center.
It begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available starting at 6:45 p.m. Information: hilleljuc.org/campussuperstar.
Kate Nash revisited
British pop star Kate Nash, who hit the charts in 2007 with the Lily Allen-like "Foundations," has a different look and vibe for her new self-released third album, "Girl Talk."
She trades in the piano for bass and more of a punk feel, working with Grammy-winning producer Tom Biller (Karen O and the Kids, Fiona Apple).
The website Exclaim! wrote of a recent show, "After an admittedly tough couple of years following her 2010 sophomore release, 'My Best Friend Is You,' Nash reinvented herself and her music to channel a darker, more punk aesthetic she had found solace in. Now, she wields a guitar as her weapon of choice, sports a coiffed black and blond pin-up do and has stretched her vocals to range from morose to explosively guttural."
"I've learned not to care what anyone says about the way I look or sound. I need to be outspoken," she said in a tour release. "We all have a responsibility to the next generation."
She plays Mr. Smalls in Millvale at 8 tonight with Supercute! Tickets are $10 via www.ticketweb.com.
On Friday and Saturday at the Byham Theater, the Pittsburgh International Children's Theater presents the local premiere of "Bubble Time," which combines visual art, clowning, jazz music, improvisation and ... bubbles.
Ringling Bros. circus veterans Casey Carle and Doug Rougeux bring to life the characters Yesac Elrac the Bubblemaniac and Bub, introducing the audience to "their world of inflatable furniture, pools, and psychedelic liquids."
The non-verbal show, which uses a variety of musical styles, is 50 minutes long, recommended for children ages 4 and up and is billed as the first "to combine the talents of comic bubble entertainers."
Performances are 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. and 2 and 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $11 at the door; $9.50 in advance; www.trustarts.org/kids or 412-456-6666.
Pooh for adults
Another opening, another show, another racy fairy tale from James Michael Shoberg's The Rage of the Stage Players. The latest adults-only vulgar twist on a children's classic is "Winnie-The-Pooh and the Seven Deadly Sins."
The tale finds a jaded 16-year-old Christopher Robin, who is coming to terms with his homosexuality.
The Rage production is at the new Off the Wall Theater at 25 W. Main St. in Carnegie Friday and Saturday, then March 28-30 and April 4-6. All performances are at 8 p.m.; tickets are $15 at 724-292-TICS (8427) or at the door. More at rageofthestageplayers.com.
Orchids in bloom
"An Orchid Obsession" is the theme of this year's Orchid Society of Western Pennsylvania Annual Show Saturday and Sunday at Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside.
Visitors will see hundreds of orchids in full bloom in exhibits and floral arrangements. The show will include free educational seminars, plant raffles and sales by vendors from all over the eastern United States as well as Ecuador. The orchids and exhibits will be judged by a team of certified American Orchid Society Judges.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Information: 724-224-4012 or www.oswp.org.
New Music NOW
There is contemporary music and then there is music NOW. It's more a frame of mind than a real difference, but the New York-based NOW Ensemble does focus on contemporary classical music of the past decade or so rather than the rather ridiculous idea of defining it as 20th century.
The group, more accurately defined as a "composer/performer collective," will perform at 8 p.m. at Andy Warhol Museum on the North Shore. The concert, co-presented by the museum and Pitt's Music on the Edge series, will premiere Patrick Burke and Emily Pinkerton's "Rounder Song" as well as other new and newer works, including Judd Greenstein's "Change Triology."
Tickets are $15-$20; 412-624-PLAY or visiting music.pitt.edu/tickets.
Pianist Awadagin Pratt took the classical music world by storm in 1992 as the first black person to win the Naumburg International Piano Competition. Two years later, he landed an Avery Fisher Career Grant and performed around the country with major orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, a sort of return. He was born here, but soon after his family moved to Illinois.
Now a professor at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, he still performs, although has embarked on a conducting career, too.
The Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania, with support from the Adams Foundation, presents him in a recital of Schubert, Liszt, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and more at Kresge Theatre on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, Oakland, at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5-$15; www.sswpa.org or 412-922-0903.
Metalcore in Millvale
Mr. Smalls gets a big tour with the metallic two-night co-headlining bill of As I Lay Dying and The Devil Wears Prada on Sunday and Monday.
As I Lay Dying, a Christian metalcore band from San Diego, is still touring on its fifth album, "Awakened." Devil Wears Prada, from Dayton, Ohio, played the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival last summer and is preparing its Roadrunner debut and follow-up to 2011's "Dead Throne" for fall release.
Both shows start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30; $40 for two-show pass at www.ticketweb.com.
NEED TO KNOW
• Westmoreland Jazz Society celebrates the 85th birthday of Harold Betters with the Harold Betters Quartet at 7:30 tonight at Seton Hill Performing Arts Center, 100 Harrison Ave., Greensburg. Admission is $10 for WJS members, $15 for nonmembers, and $3 for students (age 21 and under). Each admission includes two drink tickets. Information: 724-837-1500, ext. 27.
• The Blue Stocking Babes perform at the Steel City Improv Theater, 5950 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside, at 9 p.m. Friday. They're Pittsburgh's first all-girl long-form improvisational comedy troupe. Tickets for the 18-and-older show are $5 at the door. Info: www.steelcityimprov.com.
• Here Come the Mummies, a band of groove-tastic ghouls swathed in bandages that play funky dance music, brings its 2013 Cryptic Tour to Altar Bar at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $25-$27; www.ticketfly.com; 1-877-435-9849.
• Sean Jones Presents ... DUETS: The Blues featuring poet Vanessa German at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Downtown, at 8 p.m. Saturday. For tickets, $25, www.augustwilsoncenter.org, www.trustarts.org or 412-456-6666.