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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: The Shell, Black Music Fest, zombies and books

Joyride Bookshop will bring their mini book truck to the North Park Mini Book Fair on Saturday, June 29, 2024.
Joyride Bookshop
Joyride Bookshop will bring their mini book truck to the North Park Mini Book Fair on Saturday, June 29, 2024.

This weekend in the arts and culture in San Diego: San Diego Symphony's opening weekend at the Rady Shell; San Diego Black Arts and Culture District Music Festival; 'Twelfth Night of the Living Dead;' North Park Mini Book Fair; floral and ceramic art; live music and more.

Top picks

Summer 2024 Opening Night with the San Diego Symphony

Music, Classical | The San Diego Symphony kicks off its summer season at the Rady Shell, welcoming conductor Gemma New on opening night. New is a New Zealand-born conductor with an impressive resume. In many of her positions at orchestras worldwide, she was the first woman to hold the conductor role, including her current appointment at the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. New will conduct the San Diego Symphony this Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Rady Shell. Pianist Olga Kern will also perform.

Conductor Gemma New is shown wearing a black jacket and white shirt. Her hair is blond, and curled around her face. She's holding a conductor's baton with both hands, horizontally in front of her. She is looking at the camera.
Roy Cox
Conductor Gemma New is shown in an undated photo.

One of the works is an inventive, propulsive piece by contemporary American composer John Adams, "Short Ride in a Fast Machine."


Kern will join the orchestra on a piece by Rachmaninoff, and they'll also perform folk-informed music from Rimsky-Korsakov and Aaron Copland.

The Copland piece they'll perform is a set of four dance movements from "Rodeo," including the recognizable earworm "Hoedown."

For more arts events or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar. If you want more time to plan, get the KPBS/Arts Newsletter in your inbox every Thursday to see event picks for the weeks ahead.

"It's such a favorite," New said of the Copland piece. "I've loved doing it and every time I go back to the score, I have very happy memories from doing it with other orchestras. And I know this will make a new memory — and for this program in general, we really wanted to have a festive flavor, we wanted for our musicians to be highlighted with their virtuosity, and we also wanted to celebrate America. And of course Copland's music is absolutely perfect for that."

Listen to my full interview with New by hitting the play button above.

Details: Event information. 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 28. The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 222 Marina Park Way, downtown. $24+.


North Park Mini Book Fair

Books | Can't wait until October for the next big North Park Book Fair? You're in luck: Verbatim Books has put together a mini version of the festival at the North Park Mini Park, with a smaller selection of bookstores, small presses, authors and vendors for your book-shopping needs. Throughout the day, there'll be author readings, storytimes, musical performances and crafts (like making a bookmark with Burn All Books). Participating bookstores include Libélula Books, The Book Catapult, Joyride Bookshop, Nuclear Comics and more, with over 30 booths and vendors. Plus, it's free, for all ages and dog-friendly.

Patrons browse through books at the summer North Park book fair, July 17, 2021.
North Park Main Street
Patrons browse through books at the summer North Park Book Fair, July 17, 2021.

Details: Event information. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 29. North Park Mini Park, 3812 29th St. (at North Park Way), North Park. Free.

San Diego Black Arts and Culture District Music Festival

Music | Closeout Black Music Month with a festival celebrating the great music and art of San Diego's Black creatives. The San Diego Black Arts and Culture District, established last year, is a nine-block area in the Encanto neighborhood and is dedicated to preserving and uplifting creativity in the neighborhood. The district was also hit hard by this January's floods. The park encased by the district, Marie Widman Memorial Park, was originally slated to site this music festival, but it's still undergoing restoration from extensive flooding. The event will be held instead at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park. The event is free, but you can reserve a free ticket online in advance.

It's an all-day event with art, food, vendors and (of course) music. Performers include Daneen Wilburn, Lyrical Groove, Geminelle and Rebecca Jade. We recently had Lyrical Groove's Kendrick Dial in the studio for an interview and mini-performance, and you can listen here. And Rebecca Jade just dropped a new single last week, a rendition of Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" recorded with the Evan Marks Band.

Details: Event information. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 29. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park, 6401 Skyline Drive, Encanto. Free.

Sabrosas Latin Orchestra: 'Música en la Plaza'

Music | The self-declared first and only all-female salsa band in San Diego, Sabrosas Latin Orchestra, is celebrating five years with a concert in Escondido. The group is more than just a band — they're also a nonprofit organization with partnerships and mentorships in schools and other arts groups. They're lively, engaging and talented performers.

This concert is at the California Center for the Arts' outdoor Lyric Court space. The concert is free unless you'd prefer to sit in the reserved $20 bistro seating area.

Details: Event information. 7 p.m. Friday, June 28. California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $0-20.

'DIRT': Floral and Ceramic Show

Visual art | Bed Bud Flora, AYI Shop and Art School Dropout are co-hosting a unique art exhibition spotlighting the work of regional floral designers and ceramicists. Floral artists include Bed Bud, The Flower Boy, Trim and Tru Design, Yeritza Marie and more. Ceramicists include Naked Ceramics, Art School Dropout, Perro Y Arena, Lollipots and more.

The exhibit is one weekend only, at AYI Shop in South Park, with a reception Friday night from 4-7 p.m.

Details: Event information. Reception: 4-7 p.m. Friday, June 28. Shop hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. AYI Shop, 2234 30th St., South Park. Free.

'Twelfth Night of the Living Dead, or, What You Kill'

Theater | Loud Fridge Theatre Group presents playwright A.J. Schaar's horror-filled adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night, or What You Will."

In this version, Viola, our heroine, does not survive the shipwreck that starts off Shakespeare's play and thus carries out the rest of the plot in zombie form. This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays — it's already funny and slightly absurd, with plenty of themes and quips about identity and deception — so adding zombies feels like a natural move.

Actors Kaylin Saur and Nick Kennedy are shown in Loud Fridge Theatre Company's production of "Twelfth Night of the Living Dead," on stage through July 7, 2024.
Daren Scott
Actors Kaylin Saur and Nick Kennedy are shown in Loud Fridge Theatre Company's production of "Twelfth Night of the Living Dead," on stage through July 7, 2024.

Loud Fridge is no stranger to inventive theater, and they'll bring this play to the City Heights Performance Annex stage with director Kate Rose Reynolds and a great cast of local stars. The play is free.

Details: Event information. On stage through July 7. This weekend's performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. City Heights Performance Annex, 3795 Fairmount Ave., City Heights. Free.

San Diego Symphony: Audra McDonald

Music, Classical, Theater | One more recommendation from San Diego Symphony's opening weekend at the Shell: The illustrious Audra McDonald will perform Broadway favorites with the Symphony on Sunday evening. I spoke with McDonald for KPBS Midday Edition this week, and you can listen here to hear her talk about performing, motherhood, the state of the theater and joy.

Details: Event information. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30. The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 222 Marina Park Way, downtown. $24-$104.

Live music picks

*Indicates local act