Choices. Life's a series of them, or so I've heard. Sometimes, one choice precludes another. For instance, when you choose to spend lots of money to cut down trees in your yard to keep them from falling on your kid, your house or your neighbor's garage, you maybe don't renew your subscription to the Burlington Civic Music Association.

That's the choice that kept us out of our seats last night for the Texas Tenors, who undoubtedly were marvelous.

You'll continue to read here about the shows on Civic Music's 2017-18 slate, just without the added perspective of someone looking forward to — or cringing about — what's coming next. Looking at the season ahead, there's surely nothing to dread (you can read that as "no modern dance"), and a couple look particularly intriguing: The Moscow Festival Ballet's "Swan Lake;" a touring group of Chinese acrobats and martial artists shows; and a woodwind quintet blending instrumental music with a multimedia production.

As a once and future subscriber, I'd sure love to see the string of Irish music and dance — performed on Valentine's Day — broken. Others are free to disagree, but I'll look forward to having that night free again to go on a date with my wife.

Season tickets still are available, ranging from $120 for main floor reserve seats to $95 reserved in the upper balcony. Student subscriptions are $20. Single-show tickets also are available. Visit for more information.

Even without Civic Music, there's still plenty going on to stay connected with the arts locally, performing and otherwise.

Organ Crawl becomes a tradition

I remember, back in my high school days in Dubuque, someone saying, if you do something two years in a row, it becomes a tradition. By that reasoning, the Burlington Organist Network's Organ Crawl, back today for its second year, has become a fall tradition.

We attended the inaugural crawl in 2016, as much out of curiosity as the fact our church was hosting one of the performances. It was an unexpected good time, with four top-notch organists performing on a range of instruments with differing capabilities. Today's event begins with a no-cost, donations accepted luncheon at First Presbyterian Church. After lunch, the crowd will move from the fellowship hall to the sanctuary for a 1 o'clock performance. From there, they will cross Washington Street for a performance on the organ at — who knew? — the Masonic Temple.

At 2 p.m., First United Methodist Church and its ultra-modern organ gets in on the action. Then, at 2:30 p.m., the organ at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church will be put on musical display. An ice cream reception will follow.

The Burlington Organist Network, according to member Roger Hatteberg, aims to increase awareness about Burlington's collection of pipe organs, and also to encourage youth and adults to learn how to play so they can continue to sound in years to come.

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Art-in-Central Park today

The Fort Madison Area Arts Association offers its annual outdoor artist's market, Art-in-Central Park, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Art in a variety of media will be available to admire, or purchase. There will be music in the gazebo, too, and barbecue and offerings from Lost Duck Brewery in the shelterhouse. Music begins at noon, with performances by Fox River Fields, the Travis Reid Band and the guitar students of Jesse Mazzoccoli.

While closed today, consider stopping in at the FMAAA gallery, 825 Avenue G, Tuesday through Saturday, to view its September exhibit of printmaking by The Calico Press from Birmingham in Van Buren County, and Dodd Printing & Stationery in Fort Madison.

Lunchtime music returns

Sticking with the second-time's-a-tradition theme, another new musical tradition in Burlington returns Wednesday. The Burlington Lunchtime Chamber Music Series of concerts, organized by Jeffrey Phillips and Hatteberg, resumes its third-Wednesday series of noon hour concerts with performances of vocal works by Bach and Handel.

Soprano Donna DeBose and pianist Margaret Runaas are set to be joined by Jason Edwards on woodwinds, Derrick Murphy on trumpet and Phillips on violin.

Arias chosen for the concert, which lasts about 30 minutes, are Bach's "Ich will auf den Herren shau'n" from Cantata No. 93, "Auch mit gedampften, schwachen Stimmen" from Cantata No. 36, and "Let the Bright Seraphim" from Samson.

Doors open at noon at First United Methodist Church, 421 Washington St., with music from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. The concerts are free, and those who attend are encouraged to bring a sack lunch.

KCA changes performance date

Originally scheduled for last Thursday, boogie-woogie pianist Matt Ball now will perform this coming Thursday on the Keokuk Concert Association's 2017-18 slate of shows.

The concert will be 7:30 p.m at the Grand Theatre, 26 Sixth St., in downtown Keokuk.

Pre-show publicity promises a fast-paced program of boogie, blues, jazz, ragtime and swing favorites. For additional information, or to learn about tickets, visit

SEISO goes Pops

If you love the music of movies like "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T. the Extraterrestrial," next weekend's Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra's series of Pops concerts — Saturday in Ottumwa, next Sunday in Burlington — is for you.

SEISO opens its 2017-18 season with a celebration of the movie music of composer John Williams.

Joining the concert will be the Southeast Iowa Symphony Chorus, directed by Blair Buffington. The chorus will sing on a trio pieces in the program. Under the direction of Robert McConnell, SEISO will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington.

Admission is by season ticket, or $15 at the door. For $50, a pre-concert meal is planned at each venue. Learn more at

SEISO Friends host party

Friends of the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra will host a party and membership drive from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at 1017 N. Fourth St., in Burlington. Members and non-members are welcome to attend the event, where membership information and season ticket purchases will be offered, in addition to refreshments. There is no admission fee, and membership is optional. If you are so inclined, however, memberships start at $10 and go up from there.

Phillips, the violinist and SEISO manager, will perform.

RSVP by calling (214) 794-3997, or email

Eye on the Arts is a weekly column highlighting the people and events on the cultural scene in and around the Great River Region. If you have an item for this space, email it to