7 picks a week: Explore the African diaspora onscreen, see new art and get blown away by a fiery quartet

7 picks a week: Explore the African diaspora onscreen, see new art and get blown away by a fiery quartet

Seven Picks a Week is our guide to what’s worth catching in arts and culture during the week ahead, with contributions from reporters throughout the WNYC/Gothamist newsroom, as well as colleagues from WQXR and All of It.

Steve Smith, Culture & Arts Editor, WNYC/Gothamist

Watch films that represent the vast African diaspora

The African Diaspora International Film Festival, which opens Friday, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It’s spread over two weeks, and will screen 89 narratives from 44 different countries at seven venues around the city. There are romances, dramas, documentaries and genre-building films that represent the vast array of experiences of the African diaspora. Diarah N’Daw-Spech co-founded the festival with her husband, Reinaldo Barroso-Spech, in 1993, and is its co-director. She joined us this week for a conversation that also included filmmaker Jacinto Taras Riddick (pictured above), making his directorial debut with “A Brother’s Whisper,” which he also stars in, and which closes the festival. Multiple venues, Friday, Nov. 25, through Saturday, Dec. 11; nyadiff.org

Alison Stewart & Simon Close, All of It

Catch a Grammy-nominated rising star in Brooklyn

Rising indie-pop singer Omar Apollo is hitting the road for a tour, including a two-night stop in NYC. The Grammy-nominated vocalist, who picked up a nod for Best New Artist, will perform two sets at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on Saturday and Sunday, with R&B singer Ravyn Lenae as the opener. The crowd will surely go crazy for Omar’s popular TikTok hit, “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me At All),” along with the rest of his laid-back, retro album, “Ivory.” Kings Theatre, Saturday, Nov. 26 and Sunday, Nov. 27 at 7:45 p.m.; kingstheatre.com

Precious Fondren

“Exodus” (2022) is among the works by Anselm Kiefer on view now in a show of the same name, at Gagosian in Chelsea.

Georges Poncet, courtesy the artist and Gagosian

See mysticism and melancholy through a world-famous painter’s eyes

“Exodus,” an exhibition of recent works by the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer, is so big one coast couldn’t contain it. Part of the show is on view at Gagosian’s space at 555 West 24th Street in Chelsea; the other part is housed at Gagosian at Marciano Art Foundation, in Los Angeles. Evoking themes from ancient mythology, the Book of Exodus and the writings of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Paul Celan, Kiefer conjures old gods, monuments and ruins in his characteristically haunting manner. Gagosian, through Friday, Dec. 23; gagosian.com

– Steve Smith

Be astonished by a jazz quartet’s fiery flights

If you’ve ever had the experience of feeling so overwhelmed by the intensity of a group’s cooperation that all you could do was smile and laugh in dumbstruck awe, you’ve got a good idea of what to anticipate in an encounter with John Zorn’s New Masada Quartet. Playing material from Zorn’s Masada songbooks – part Jewish theme, part free-jazz steam – the iconoclastic saxophonist’s group with guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Kenny Wollesen is among the most joyous outfits he’s ever led, and that joy is contagious. Roulette, Sunday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m.; roulette.org

– Steve Smith

Attend the Broadway debut of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play

Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 2014 play, Between Riverside and Crazy, makes its Broadway debut. The story concerns ex-cop and recent widower Walter “Pops” Washington and his freshly paroled son, Junior, as they host sketchy house guests and struggle to hold on to one of the last great rent-stabilized apartments on Riverside Drive. (Tuesday evenings and Wednesday matinees are designated as mask-required performances.) Second Stage Theater, Wednesday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Feb. 12, times vary; 2st.com

— Steve Smith

J’Nai Bridges, known for her powerful work at the Metropolitan Opera, sings an intimately scaled recital at 92NY this week.

Dario Acosta

Have an intimate encounter with a powerful mezzo-soprano

I’ve been a fan of mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges because of her deeply moving work in the Metropolitan Opera hit “Akhnaten” and in “Pity These Ashes,” an event that was co-produced by The Jerome L. Greene Space, WQXR, Harlem School for the Arts and the Harlem Chamber Players. Now you can hear her give a fantastic and intimate program at 92NY, including works by two living composers whose music never fails to move me: Carlos Simon and Jimmy Lopez. Ms. Bridges is beautiful and talented, and has important things to say through her music. 92nd Street Y, Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.; 92ny.org

– Ed Yim, WQXR

See a rising-star conductor lead the New York Philharmonic for the first time

Conductor Rafael Payare, like his world-famous colleague Gustavo Dudamel, came up through the fabled Venezuelan training program El Sistema, and sprang from the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra to a globe-spanning career. At age 42, he is music director of two outstanding ensembles, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and should make an electrifying first impression on New York Philharmonic audience members with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 12, subtitled “The Year 1917.” David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, Thursday, Dec. 1 – Saturday, Dec. 3, times vary; nyphil.org

– Steve Smith

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