Wisconsin Union Galleries
UW Memorial Union, through Nov. 6. Reception: 7-9 pm
Alonso Sierralta's sculptures reflect his experience as an immigrant; Huey Peckerhead draws rockets visiting famous works of art.
Rhumba 4 Rainbow III
Inn on the Park, 7 pm
This benefit for the Rainbow Project features a salsa dance contest, a colorful floor show, open dancing, salsa dance lessons and live music by Madison's Grupo Candela. You can refuel between dances at the quesadilla station.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Center's Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Sept. 29 & 30
The season premiere features Thomas Trotter, Madison's favorite British organist. Samuel Barber's "Toccata Festiva" will give his fingers a workout, but his feet must be in top form as well to keep pace with the demanding pedal cadenza. John DeMain also conducts Sibelius' "Symphony No. 7" and Debussy's "Nocturnes."
The Water Engine
Hemsley Theatre in UW Vilas Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Wednesday & Thursday, Sept. 29, Oct. 3 & 4, 7:30 pm
In this early David Mamet play, designed for radio broadcast, an idealistic inventor creates an engine that runs on water, only to see his dream ground up by American capitalism. The University Theatre will present the play as if for a radio audience, with special features at intermission.
Kanopy Dance Company
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Sept. 29 & 30
The local dance troupe collaborates with Riad Dance Company for a cross-cultural blend of modern and Middle Eastern dance.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
The Wisconsin native is a rising standup comedian: a Letterman regular who'll premiere his own TBS series in November. He's known for his uncanny impressions, including one of the funniest Bill Clintons ever.
Essen Haus, noon-2 am
The annual German-style celebration is an excuse to fill up on spanferkel and leberkäse. (Like you needed one!) The polka comes courtesy of Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones.
Paul Rowe & Martha Fischer
Mills Hall in the UW Humanities Bldg., 8 pm
Rowe (baritone) and Fischer (piano) perform songs by composers whose fame has faded (Carl Loewe, Franz Schreker, Louis Spohr) and one whose hasn't (Benjamin Britten).
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Her teenage pop-tart years behind her, Moore probably doesn't want to hear drunken coeds shouting out requests for "Candy," but such are the trials of young celebrity. These days the singer/actress goes in for a more mature mix of pop and singer-songwriter fare. Ben Lee kicks off the Majestic's first night of live music since undergoing a complete makeover.
Cafe Montmartre, 9:30 pm
Leader Justin Ringle can ache and muse with the best of them, and his avant-folk band surely won't be playing tiny clubs for long. Ringle's at times bittersweet vocal performances have drawn comparisons with Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. Johanna Kunin and Michael Morris open.
Crytal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
Refreshingly different Zappa progeny El Donk team up with Latin-music-loving punkers Aniv de la Rev and serious-minded folk-rockers the Motor Primitives for the latest installment of the Madison Music Project Charter Club Tour, based on Isthmus' online directory at MadisonMusicProject.com.
Tim Whalen Nonet
Restaurant Magnus, 10 pm
Sadly, talented keyboardist Whalen is leaving town for a teaching gig in Ohio. His potent nonet artfully re-creates the tonal palette of the high modern-jazz era.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
Franti's a fine vocalist and wordsmith, but Spearhead's hybrids of rap, rock, funk and reggae stand out, year after year, because of his unyielding quest for peace and social justice. Blue King Brown opens.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Their music is fairly ordinary guitar punk, but Japan's fun-loving Peelander-Z certainly make the most of their form-fitting action-hero costumes. The Birthday Suits and Rust Belt Sermon open.