Berkeley miraculously becomes avant-garde this week when Berkeley Edge Fest, Cal Performances’ biennial festival for contemporary music, dance, and theater, debuts with a major array of modern music pioneers. The four-day, five-concert series at Hertz Hall on the UC campus kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. with an eclectic mix of spoken word and music from composers Cindy Cox and Edmund Campion. On Friday (8 p.m.), Terry Riley, the “undisputed father of minimalism,” performs his notorious keyboard improvisation “A Rainbow in Curved Air” plus “Baghdad Highway,” a reflection on the war in Iraq done in the style of Islamic devotional song. Saturday offers a double dose of Edge-iness. The first concert, at 6 p.m., showcases “expressivist” Ingram Marshall performing the groundbreaking 1976 “Fragility Cycles,” a combo of Balinese flute and taped “text sound”; and the music of the Bay Area’s John Adams (The Death of Klinghoffer). Saxophonist Steve Lacy, trombonist George Lewis, and electronic composer/musician David Wessel head up the evening’s second concert, a blend of jazz and electronic improv at 9 p.m. Edge Fest winds down Sunday with a tribute to music experimentalist Lou Harrison, whose fascination with Javanese Gamelan inspired countless modern musicians. The 3 p.m. concert makes inventive use of unusual instruments, from maracas and African mbira to chopsticks and washtub. But there’s much more. Visit www.calperfs.berkeley.edu or phone 510-642-9988. Tickets are $22 per concert, or all five performances at 20 percent off. — Joy White
5 – 7 – 5
No wonder haiku is suddenly so popular. It’s concise, it’s “serene,” and everybody thinks she can do it. And now, in honor of “Haiku: A Critical Perspective on an Ancient Form”:
Presented by the/Berkeley Public Library:/ Spring Haiku Series.
Three haiku poets/discuss the ancient art form/and its history.
Gabe Winer is one./Garry Gay is another./Ray Beville’s the third.
They will also talk/about the haiku’s meaning/in the here and now.
The library can/be found at twenty-ninety/Kittredge St., Berkeley. 510-981-6121. 7 p.m. — Stefanie Kalem
Look Out, ol’ Macky is Back
Join Mack the Knife, Pirate Jenny, Polly Peachum, Tiger Brown, and the rest of the politically pissed-off beggars and thieves of playwright Bertolt Brecht’s London underworld as they sing some of composer Kurt Weill’s best-known songs — The Threepenny Opera is back in town again. The Masquers Playhouse production of the classic Weimar Germany allegorical musical, in an English adaptation by Marc Blitzstein, directed by Robert Love with music directed by Pat King, opens Friday, June 6 (curtain at 8 p.m.) for a run through July 19 with a large cast of local actors. Find out what Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong knew. Tickets: $15 from 510-232-4031. 105 Park Pl., Point Richmond. — Kelly Vance