Polyphonic Spree

Peter Pesic's classical lunchtime

"I've been doing these lunchtime concerts for 25 years," Peter Pesic says by phone of his regular piano gig at St. John's College. Pesic taught there for over three decades, heads up the Science Institute and enjoys a musician-in-residence position with performances roughly every other month. For this upcoming installment, he'll get into select pieces by Bach, Stravinsky and Chopin.

"It's something I've enjoyed doing," he continues, "because it gives people a chance to hear [classical] music in an informal way—they can take a break, eat their lunch—and for years I've been playing through composers, partly for my own education, partly to share with people."

Pesic perhaps looks at music differently than most. A diehard fan of the concept of polyphony—that is, the coming-together of disparate musical parts to create one harmonious and cohesive whole—he literally wrote the book on how our brains consume and understand grouped musical compositions. 2017's Polyphonic Minds from the MIT Press is a fascinating retelling of hundreds of years of musical history, from Gregorian chants to groundbreaking medieval developments in polyphony through the present. But rather than merely point out the many facets through which polyphonic music affects our brains, he ties it into the concepts of history and neuroscience; in other words, how our brains interpret polyphony is actually a very apt metaphor for our overall thought processes—compartmentalization, emotional response, faith, understanding … all of it.

"Most of the music we hear has several different kinds of sounds going at once, and what I was doing in the book was talking about how that came about, how people started doing it, what that means and especially its connection with understanding the mind itself," Pesic tells SFR. "These neurons, they're not disorganized; they have structures that people are just beginning to understand, and somehow all of them produce you or me, our consciousness, our awareness; and that's an extraordinary thing."

Pesic believes there's something special about enjoying classical music live in a way one won't get from recorded compositions, but that the events are as much for him as audiences.

"Part of the joy is that it changes all the time," he says of a live interpretation. "This is a great opportunity."

(Alex De Vore)

Peter Pesic: Bach, Stravinsky and Chopin
12:10 pm Friday Jan. 18. Free.
Junior Common Room, Peterson Student Center, St. John's College,
1160 Camino Cruz Blanca,
984-6000

Bring Out the Mexican in You

Courtesy Teatro Paraguas

A lot has happened on the US-Mexico border since last January's production of Atravesada, a theatrical-poetical exploration of borderlands both geographical and internal—so bringing it back for an encore run feels appropriate and poignant. Creator and director Alix Hudson's series of 37 acted-out and recited poems from writers like Sandra Cisneros, Valerie Martínez and Gloria Anzaldúa was so awesome last year (Acting Out, Jan. 17, 2018: "Sangre y Sueños"). "It's a counterpoint to all the horror and attention at the border, because this show is so positive in so may ways," Hudson says of the literary celebration full of beautiful wordplay, seduction and humor. "It's joyful putting it on, which feels political within itself." (Charlotte Jusinski)

Atravesada: Poetry of the Border
7:30 pm Friday and Saturday Jan. 18 and 19;
2 pm Sunday Jan. 20. $5-$15 suggested donation.
Teatro Paraguas,
3205 Calle Marie,
424-1601.

If You Build It

Courtesy Heather Hoeksema

When you read that singer Heather Hoeksema tunes her guitar "in the frequency of 432 aligned with note A, considered a grounding sound aligned with natural Phi mathematics," it sounds a little intense. But don't be scared—give one listen to her new album, Rode Show, which she releases with a grand party this week to kick off her Full Moon Tour. You'll see the ideas of universal harmony and conscious living played out in accessible indie folky jazz and totally relatable lyrics telling of love, loss and whatever happens in between. The Playhouse is the perfect intimate venue for the kind of music you need to lean into, with a sound stripped-down and simple—which is probably in part due to Hoeksema's voice, but with no small nod to 432 hertz, the tuning fork of the cosmos. (CJ)

Heather Hoeksema:
7 pm Monday Jan. 21. $20; $30 for concert and album.
Santa Fe Playhouse,
142 E De Vargas St.,
988-4262.

Flipside

Courtesy Golden Dragon Acrobats

If you've ever heard anyone talk about the amazing Chinese acrobat performances they've seen, you should know that's because such events are incredible. Like, we're not trying to oversell it here or anything, but the death-defying stunts and routines honed by these acrobats are almost never short of completely astounding. Oh, and they're usually quite fun, too. Take the Golden Dragon Acrobats, a troupe from China that culls from over 25 centuries of tradition—yes, centuries. Given the artistry and tradition at play with a timeline that long, you just know it's going to be mind-boggling. Trust us—this one's worth it. (ADV)

Golden Dragon Acrobats: 
7 pm Tuesday Jan. 22. $29-$47.
Lensic Performing Arts Center,
211 W San Francisco St.,
988-1234.