Summer’s early. The Yale Summer Cabaret season starts this week. So does the New Haven summer festival season, with Audubon’s Arts on the Edge series. The library’s Summer Reading Series is beginning, Long Wharf is having its end-of-season Gala, the Pardee-Morris House is reopening and big pop bands like Interpol are commencing their summer tours. Hot enough for you?
Monday, June 2
By the Book
The Knights of Columbus Museum (1 State St.) only changes up its major exhibitions a couple of times a year, so a new one is a big deal. Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible is a modern attempt by Minnesota monks to create a new handcrafted illuminated-manuscript bible. It’s the first time the Benedectine order has undergone such a project in half a century. The results are spectacular, a modern-art edition which uses ancient calligraphic and publishing techniques but was put together with the help of modern computer-based communications methods. The exhibit opens today and runs through Nov. 2. Museum hours are 10 a.m. through 5 p.m.
For many months of doing these Arts Happenings pieces, I (Chris Arnott) have not once indulged in blowing my own horn. Until now. For the last year and a half, I’ve hosted a monthly storytelling/spoken word/theater/music/what-have-you series at Café Nine called Get to the Point! After a few months beset by bad weather, tonight’s line-up is one of the fullest and finest ever: Chicago-based singer/songwriter/musical theater composer Diana Lawrence; Connecticut playwright Susan Cinamon, having her one-act comedies read by Zuzanna Szadowski (Dorota Kishlovsky from Gossip Girl), Caitlin Hale (from the movie School of Rock), Erin Moffat, Joanna Keylock and Sabrina Brier; Bruce Tulgan of Rainmaker Thinking Inc., mixing business-speak with martial arts; Frank Critelli, a singer-songwriter who also dabbles in prose; Rob DeRosa, local-music booster who books the Meriden Daffodil Festival, runs the Thin Man Music label and hosts the Homegrown local-band radio show; Ken Carlson, comedian and funny writer; Saul Fussiner, screenwriter and ace memoirist; Craig Gilbert, funny guy; Lys Guillorn, artistic and articulate musician; Seth Osborne, bedraggled poet; Ina Chadwick, Fairfield County storyteller/producer, with writer/musician Duncan Christy; monologist Steve Bellwood, accompanied by keyboardist David Pilot; and poet Sara Russell. 8 p.m. (we’re starting this one promptly), 250 State St. (203) 789-8281. No cover charge.
Tuesday, June 3
Mind At Rest
The Shambala Center hosts a monthly meditation session, with a seasoned meditator mediating, 6:30 p.m. at a natural location for some peace and quiet, the New Haven Free Public Library (133 Elm St.). Free. (203) 946-8130.
Interpol is one of those bands that plays stadiums in some parts of the world—the New York-based act has had half a dozen hit records in the UK, including “C’mere” and “Lights”—but can also scale down to intimate shows at clubs like Toad’s, where they rule tonight. The band Teen opens the 9 p.m. show. Interpol will have a new album out soon, and are breaking in a new bassist on this tour. 300 York St. (203) 624-TOAD.
Wednesday, June 4
Center for Britten Art
The Haven String Quartet is back at the Yale Art Gallery (1111 Chapel St.) for the latest “Playing Images” lunchtime concert, for which the ensemble finds appropriate classical tunes to complement works of art on the museum’s wall. This time, the music is by Benjamin Britten (“March” and “Waltz” from the Three Divertimenti he composed when he was in his 20s) and the art is by David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Manuel Neri—three of the five artists in YAG’s current exhibition of Five West Coast Artists. 12:30 p.m.; the same concert will be repeated on Sunday, June 8 at 3 p.m. in the same location. Free.
Thursday, June 5
For most of the 40 years it’s been in existence, the Yale Summer Cabaret has done its shows in, you know, the summertime. A couple of years ago, however, it realized that opening its season a couple of weeks before the actual summer solstice would mean not having to jockey for attention with a more recent summer arts institution, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The gambit worked. The YSC season starts tonight with Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, by 1974 Yale School of Drama grad Christopher Durang. The comedy, about violent impulses in modern culture, is directed by Jessica Holt and runs through June 15. The Summer Cabaret, like its school-year counterpart, serves dinner and drinks before shows. (203) 432-1567.
Friday, June 6
B’Racz to Basics
Istvan B’Racz teaches composition at Neighborhood Music School, and has been a part of several cool experimental and neo-classical bands in Connecticut and New York. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the NMS Recital Hall (100 Audubon St.), B’Racz is performing some of his original works for keyboards (electronic and otherwise). Free. (203) 624-5189.
The homegrown Hillhouse Opera Company performs Puccini’s Madama Butterfly tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Cooperative Art & Humanities High School auditorium (177 College St.). Tickets are $35, $20 for students and seniors.
Long Wharf Lithgow John Lithgow’s acting career took off when a show he appeared in at the Long Wharf Theater, the sports drama The Changing Room, transferred to Broadway in 1971. It was as auspicious a move as, say, traveling from outer space to the third rock from the sun. Now a celebrated children’s book author, singer/songwriter and raconteur as well as a famous actor, Lithgow returns to his old Long Wharf stomping grounds (where he also starred in the 1985 stage adaptation of Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight) to be the featured entertainment at the theater’s 2014 Gala fundraiser. The evening begins with cocktails and small-plate tastings at 6 p.m., ends with a 9:30 p.m. dessert reception, and includes a silent auction. Lithgow goes on at 8 p.m. with his performance piece Stories by Heart. Tickets for the show only are $50 to $95. If you have thousands to spend, be an event sponsor. (203) 787-4282.
Saturday, June 7
The Edgiest Summer Festival
Arts on the Edge began as the locally produced lead-in event to the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, making sure that homegrown talent got a fair shake in June. The events are no longer guided by defensiveness—A&I includes many local artists, and Arts on the Edge has become a major showcase for the Audubon arts district, which boasts not just the fest’s organizers at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven but such institutions as the Educational Center for the Arts, Creative Arts Workshop and Neighborhood Music School. Today from noon to 5 p.m. in Audubon Street’s Leeney Plaza there’ll be performances, activities and information booths involving arts (and arts-loving) organizations from throughout the city.
Up Pops Arts & Ideas
The third and last of the three “pop-up festivals” which serve as a prelude to the 2014 International Festival of Arts & Ideas is today from 2 to 7 p.m. at Christopher Columbus Family Academy (255 Blatchley St.). “Celebrate Our Fair Haven” features performances by Carlos Santiago y Su Momento Musical and Elation NYC Rumberos, sports clinics and a host of Fair Haven food vendors.
Ready to Read
New Haven Free Public Library holds its annual Summer Reading Club Kick-Off Party 2 p.m. in its Children’s Department (133 Elm St., second floor). There’ll be free books, face painting (so other people have something to look at while you’re busy reading), refreshments, a mural project and a performance by the Science Tellers.
Sunday, June 8
I Feel Pardee
It’s Opening Day at the Pardee-Morris House, an historic domicile at 325 Lighthouse Rd. that is overseen by New Haven Museum and only open to the public in the summer months. There’ll be special events this afternoon from noon to 4 p.m., but just seeing the place again should seem special enough.