The Bass Performance Hall is open for business, and the acoustical expectations are high (Fort Worth). Plus: Readers and writers celebrate literary Texas (Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and elsewhere); the nation’s top golfers get in the swing (Dallas and San Antonio); Texas Czechs bounce to the strains of primo polka (Ennis); and Tara Lipinski and other skating greats prove that ice guys—and girls—finish first (Austin, Houston, and San Antonio). Edited by Quita McMath, Erin Gromen, and Katy Vine


Bass Appeal

Since the design for the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall was unveiled four years ago, all of Fort Worth has been longing to know whether the new home for its symphony, ballet, and opera will live up to acoustical expectations. Architect David Schwarz has created a classy, stripped-down beaux arts theater with a dome three quarters the size of the state capitol’s. But how will live music sound in that cavernous space? Will the building deliver the absolutely clear, well-rounded tones that, say, Dallasites enjoy at the Meyerson Symphony Center? To ensure that any comparison with older halls will be favorable, the project enlisted Christopher Jaffe, of Jaffe Holden Scarbrough Acoustics, the Connecticut-based firm that designed the acoustics for the acclaimed new hall at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. Donors whose money helped build the Bass are getting first dibs at the three opening Gala Performances with Van Cliburn, Carol Burnett, and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, and two subsequent Cliburn performances are already sold out. But tickets are available for the rest of the six-week Grand Opening Festival, starting with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s May 15 appearance with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Does the Bass Performance Hall sound as glorious as it looks? Those lucky enough to snag a ticket will soon find out. CHESTER ROSSON


The Lit Parade

Katherine Anne Porter penned poignant short stories—and told at least one tall tale. Raised by her grandmother in scrubby Kyle, just southwest of Austin, the writer preferred to gloss over her hardscrabble upbringing and claim instead a background of juleps and gentility. Porter partisans can divine the fact behind the fiction on May 15 (the 108th anniversary of her birth) when a visit to her girlhood home will cap a Porter symposium in San Marcos. Scholars and admirers will discuss works such as “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall,” then adjourn to the onetime residence of Porter’s real granny, which is now known as the Katherine Anne Porter House. In other authorial events during Texas Writers Month, San Antonians can enjoy a read-fest by short-story writer Janet Peery (see “The Texpatriates,”), western novelist Elmer Kelton, hometown poet Naomi Shihab Nye, and others. And Metroplexers can hear actor Barry Corbin. But all the seats for readings by playwrights Wendy Wasserstein—who, like Katherine Anne Porter, is a Pulitzer prize winner—and Larry L. King are already, ahem, booked. ANNE DINGUS


The Swing Set

Baseball may roll into high gear this month, but the Ballpark in Arlington isn’t the only place in Texas to enjoy the spring sunshine while watching athletes pound little white balls into the outer reaches of space. An army of men armed with a variety of clubs will tee off at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas May 11–17 for the thirty-first installment of the Byron Nelson Classic. The top swingers in golfdom, including past champion Tom Watson and UT-ex Justin Leonard, will take their best shots at the tournament’s highest-ever champion’s purse of $450,000 (last year’s winner, Tiger Woods). But if you want to avoid the crowds and save some money, consider attending the NCAA Men’s Central Regional Tournament at San Antonio’s Oak Hills Country Club May 14–16. Twenty-two college teams and the three leading golfers from the central region (which extends from Texas to North Dakota and as far east as West Virginia) will descend on the Alamo City for the right to advance to the national championship in Albuquerque later this month. It’s a perfect opportunity to see the sport’s future stars play purely for the love of the game. BRIAN D. SWEANY


Czech It Out

The polka may well be the most universal music made in Texas, embraced by Poles, Germans, Tejanos, and Anglos alike. No one, though, interprets polkas as faithfully as the Czechs, to whom the style is as natural as breathing. And no group of Czechs performs polkas or dances to polkas with the enthusiasm of Czechs from Texas, who attack the music in typical over-the-top Texan fashion. That in a nutshell explains the significance of the thirty-second annual National Polka Festival being held this month in Ennis, a Czech community about thirty miles southeast of Dallas. The best Tex-Czech musicians on the planet—including the Mikula Orchestra, the Vrazels, Harry Czarnek and the Texas Dutchmen, and Brave Combo, above (who aren’t Czech but do a credible job of passing for it)—will put the oomph in the oompah in four fraternal dance halls. Also on tap: a celebrity Kolbase Slam (watch Dallas notables consume way too much Czech sausage); every shape and flavor of kolache known to modern man; colorful native costumes; a parade with Alexander Vondra, the Czech ambassador to the United States, as grand marshal; and endless versions of “In Heaven There Is No Beer” and “Who Stole the Kishke?” JOE NICK PATOSKI


Ice Girls

Surely the highlight of the Nagano Olympics was the showdown between Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan for the gold in ladies’ figure skating, not to mention Lu Chen’s delightfully surprising bronze medal win. All three young women, barely keeping at bay the pressure of turning in the perfect performance, skated with the elegance, artistry, and joy that make the ladies’ competition a premier sporting event. After such an ordeal, you’d think the Olympians would need a breather—but no, they’re taking their act on the road. Lipinski, the gold medal winner and pride of Sugar Land, headlines the Campbell’s Soups Champions on Ice tour of 59 cities, which makes 5 stops in Texas this month and next. Among the recent medalists joining Lipinski, Kwan, and Chen are the top three finishers in the men’s competition, Ilia Kulik, Elvis Stojko, and Philippe Candeloro, along with perennial crowd favorites Oksana Baiul, Victor Petrenko, and Surya Bonaly—who, since there’ll be no judges on hand, can do her back flip without fear of deductions. JANE DURE