A Black History Month concert by the Chicago Children’s Choir features “Right on Be Free,” a collaboration with Grammy Award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer, a backup singer with The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Chaka Khan whose story was told in the documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.” The Grammy-winning quintet Ranky Tanky, whose music celebrates the Gullah culture, also performs. Other concert selections include a performance of Peter CottonTale’s “Together” and a preview of music from “Rainbow Beach,” a full-length commission about the historic wade-in protest that helped desegregate Chicago’s beaches in the 1960s. Livestreams free at 7 p.m. Feb. 25. Visit ccchoir.org.
Joffrey channels Ravel
The Joffrey Ballet presents the world premiere of “Boléro,” a new work set to the orchestral piece by composer Maurice Ravel and choreographed by company artist Yoshihisa Arai. Performed by 15 members of the company, the production is the first in the Joffrey’s current winter program. Artistic director Ashley Wheater says of the piece, “Yoshihisa beautifully emulates a feeling of reconnecting with our humanity in a world where we can’t touch or hold each other right now.” The previously filmed “Boléro” is part of the company’s Joffrey Studio Series, a roster of free, virtual programming — from livestreamed performances and rehearsals to recorded conversations — curated by Joffrey artists. “Bolero” streams free at 7 p.m. Feb. 26. Visit joffrey.org.
As much remains in flux in everyone’s lives, there’s one thing that’s a given — spring! And for a head start on that rejuvenating season, the Garfield Park Conservatory’s 2021 Spring Flower Show is the place to be. This year’s show, called “Saturation,” will immerse visitors in virtually the entire spectrum in the rainbow. Instead of typical garden design, which incorporates different colors scattered throughout the landscape, the display concentrates groups of blooming flowers so that visitors will be able to see and understand the wide range of hues and tints within each. The show runs Feb. 27-May 9 at Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park. Admission is free but reservations are required. Visit garfieldconservatory.org.
Connect with theater
Chicago Theatre Week returns in virtual form this year (Feb. 25-March 7) and encourages audiences to discover a new theater, experience virtual shows and donate money that would have been spent on tickets. For more information, visit chicagotheatreweek.com. One of the theaters participating is Court, which is streaming a film of its third production of “An Iliad,” Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s play based on Homer’s “The Iliad.” The site-specific staging was cleverly set among the artifacts at the Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago’s archaeology museum. Featuring a visceral performance by Timothy Edward Kane as the storytelling Poet, it speaks to both Homer’s time as well as our own. “An Iliad” streams March 3-31. Tickets: $15-$40. Visit courttheatre.org.
His abolition mission
The 2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields (“Hadestown”) wrote and stars in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” a solo show, which explores the life and achievements of the abolitionist leader. “Though Douglass began his life as a slave, through heroic effort, he became one of America’s most important and historically influential icons,” said De Shields. The free performance is presented by New York’s Flushing Town Hall and streams at 6 p.m. Feb. 26. Visit flushingtownhall.org.
The 6th annual Charm City Django Jazz Fest presents a lineup from around the globe celebrating the music and legacy of Django Reinhardt. The festival, streaming from Baltimore, features newly recorded sets by Tcha Limberger and Les Violons de Bruxelle, London Django Collective, Miklos Lakatos Gypsy Orchestra and more (6:30 p.m. Feb. 26) and a celebration of “Django & His American Friends,” the recordings made between 1935-1938 (6:30 p.m. Feb. 27). There’s also a series of workshops and a lecture (10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Feb. 27). Streams locally via the Old Town School of Folk Music. Tickets: $25-$35; festival pass $100. Visit oldtownschool.org.
The Hyde Park Art Center has reopened with a trio of new exhibitions featuring Chicago-based artists: “Cuts and Beats: Cecil McDonald Jr.” features photography and installation work by the artist and educator (to June 12); “Ground Floor,” brings together work by Chicago’s most talented emerging artists (to April 3); and “Next Window, Please!,” showcases work by young artists from the center’s Teen Program (to April 3). Admission is free; advance registration required. Visit hydeparkart.org.
The Goodman Theatre presents a reading of “The Secretaries,” Omer Abbas Salem’s absurd new work about four women in Aryan drag who vie to be Hitler’s personal secretary. Streams free at 7 p.m. Feb. 27. Visit goodmantheatre.org. … Sideshow Theatre launches its new season with a benefit screening of its production of Mia Chung’s “You for Me for You.” Streams (pay-what-you-can) at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Visit sideshowtheatre.org. … Anne Carrere performs the title role in “Piaf! The Show,” a tribute to the French singer-actress Edith Piaf. Streams at 7 p.m. Feb. 28. Tickets: $25. Visit atthemac.org. … Silk Road Rising presents “Black Teen Lives Matter: Act Two,” which features monologues and short plays by young Black writers. Streams at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 and 7 p.m. March 1. Visit silkroadrising.org.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.