As August turns into September, the entertainment offerings increase as new music and theater seasons get a fresh start. As the days grow shorter, the event list grows longer, taking us into fall.
‘Battling Extinction’ at Anniston Museum
Nature offers endless lessons and surprises for those who look for them. In “Battling Extinction,” the new temporary exhibit at the Anniston Museum of Natural History, these wonders are easy to find. They are everywhere.
The exhibit is about the causes of plant and animal extinction worldwide and nationwide, and what we as individuals can do about it. It will be on view through the Christmas holidays.
The huge silver globe that slowly spins from the ceiling in the museum lobby represents the museum’s welcome and challenge: “Explore Your World.” The parts of Earth that this display invites us to explore are myriad.
Animal habitats, the display’s focus, are being destroyed at an alarmingly fast rate, according to Sarah Burke, the museum’s director of education. Items throughout the exhibit hall fill viewers in on the reasons behind the loss of wildlife.
“It’s a powerful display,” Burke said. “There’s a strong message here. We are attracted to the unique and bizarre. This collection brings us both.”
According to Burke, the exhibit was written and fabricated by the museum staff with a few items on loan.
Be sure to see the mammals display on the back wall. You’ll see a polar bear from Alaska, an orangutan from Indonesia, a Bengal tiger from India, and a black rhino and chimpanzee from Africa. There is also a markhor, a species of wild goat native to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The polar bear is the largest bear species in the world, according to the written information in the exhibit. These bears depend on sea ice for breeding and survival. But sea ice is receding, forcing the bears to move onto land, where there are fewer breeding opportunities and where people kill them out of defense or fear.
There are also educational tools to explore. You can touch an elephant’s tusk and see its layers and wear and tear from the animal’s daily living — and see snow white, beautiful tusks in a showcase.
I found the jaguar in the mammal display to be surprisingly small to be such a fierce predator. The orangutan has unusually long arms.
For these animals, deforestation is the primary cause of declining populations. Logging and poaching are secondary causes.
From a worldwide perspective, one-half of all amphibians are dying out, said Burke.
However, in a separate part of the exhibit, a positive scenario covers the animals’ physical and behavioral adaptations that help them survive in their environment. They all have a job to do in nature.
“Take birds, for example,” Burke explained. “If you look closely enough, you’ll see that the heron has a long beak. That’s to spear its food. The duck has webbed feet to paddle water. And did you know that the giraffe has enough strength in his legs to kick a lion hard enough to kill it?”
As you exit the exhibit, there are additional positive notes: things we can do — in everyday living — to protect endangered wildlife, plus success stories from people and organizations that battle extinction.
“We hope when you leave you’ll be more curious, more passionate about the urgency of preserving wildlife,” Burke said.
Call for singers in Civic Chorale
A new season of learning, growing and making music together starts Monday for the Calhoun County Civic Chorale when the Chorale’s director of choral activities, Eli Yanson, welcomes singers.
The organization’s first meeting, a meet and greet, is from 7-8 p.m at First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Interested singers are welcome. The ensemble will read through some of the music for the Dec. 8 Christmas concert.
Also on the concert schedule: “Requiem for the Living” by Dan Forrest with the JSU A Capella Choir and festival orchestra on April 5, and Mass in C by Beethoven for the June concert (day and time to be announced).
Rehearsals will be Mondays from 7-9 at Jacksonville’s First United Methodist Church.
The Civic Chorale will have another special opportunity: Yanson is inviting the chorale members along with the A Capella Choir to sing Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living” in Vienna, Austria, with the Symphonisches Orchester Wien, for which he will serve as guest conductor, as well as Beethoven’s Mass in C directed by Tim Sharp, executive director of the American Choral Directors Association. Other invited choirs will be there as well. The trip is planned for June 12-21.
Yanson can be reached at 256-782-5544.
Chamber Music Series at OPAC
Tickets are on sale for the new Chamber Music Series at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. Five concerts are included in the season, which begins Sept. 6.
Written for small instrumental groups to perform in relatively intimate spaces, chamber music has been called the music for friends.”
The first performance of the season will feature Celli, a quartet of cellists from Atlanta. Celli enjoys playing classical music, but the cellists are also at home playing rock and pop songs as well as their own original works. The quartet, according to reviews, gives new definition to what it means to be a cellist. Their concert is at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in The Studio downstairs at OPAC.
Following that, Chinese pianist Fei-Fei will be featured in concert on Nov. 24. The pianist is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition and a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
On Jan. 19, the series will present an a cappella quintet called Calmus, which embodies the choral tradition of its hometown of Leipzig, Germany, the city closely associated with Bach and Mendelssohn. The quintet’s repertoire is diverse and its presentation entertaining.
The Akropolis Reed Quintet performs Feb. 21. The woodwind ensemble has recorded three albums and collaborated with numerous well-known artists.
On March 5, the Berlin Philharmonic Piano Quartet will take OPAC’s Studio stage. The ensemble — with a pianist, violinist, cellist and violist — plays classical, romantic and modern music. It is also interested in finding undiscovered masterpieces in string literature.
The Chamber Music Series is funded by the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. Season tickets are $129 for adults and $79 for students. Individual tickets are also available. The box office may be reached by calling 256-241-3322.
‘The Miracle Worker’ at Theatre of Gadsden
Helen Keller is the miracle and Ann Sullivan is the worker in Theatre of Gadsden’s production of ‘The Miracle Worker.’ This production, which tells a true Alabama story, is scheduled for Sept. 11-22 (two consecutive weekends) at the Ritz Theatre in Gadsden by Theater of Gadsden.
Anniston actress Kim Dobbs portrays Aunt Ev. More about this production in next week’s column.
Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.