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What to do in Pittsburgh this weekend: Sept. 15-17

A person with two braids looks to the side.
Ben Bailey-Smith
Author Zadie Smith visits Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Mon., Sept. 18

Enjoy the best local musicians at Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, check out the latest trends at Pittsburgh Fashion Week, or check out the tunes of Billy Strayhorn — here's what to do this weekend.

Jazz Fest returns

The Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival returns for its 13th season. It begins Thu., Sept. 14, and Fri., Sept. 15, with artists like Madison McFerrin and Nigel Hall at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. On Saturday and Sunday, the four-day showcase moves to Highmark Stadium, with acts including the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Pittsburgh favorite Gregory Porter. Other attractions include a Jazz Crawl to area restaurants.

Tech and art collide at the Mattress Factory

Columbia-born, Montreal-based Andrea Peña is a designer and choreographer whose installation works blend performance with digital technology and physical sculpture. Peña’s latest is a solo exhibition developed in residency at the Mattress Factory. The piece includes a “choreographic machine” with two slowly moving mechanical arms that “question[...] our perceptions of the body through its imperfections” The free opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 15.

Check out the trends at Fashion Week

Pittsburgh Fashion Week returns under the new ownership and management of Henry Rothschild, CEO  of Pittsburgh’s Diamonds by Rothschild. The annual event’s signature Runway Show this year features up to a half-dozen looks each by eight designers including Emily Rouse, Deija Williams, Suz Pisano, and Michael Kouri. It all begins 7:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 15, in the landmark Wintergarden at PPG Place.

'Eternal Maternal' at Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Pittsburgh-based artist Fran Flaherty and Philadelphia-based Meg Foley visit Kelly Strayhorn Theater for the Mon., Sept. 18, opening reception of their exhibit “Eternal Maternal.” The artists “delve into the realm of divine bodies, illuminating the inherent connection between mothering and the sacred.” The show, curated by DS Kinsel, continues in the historic East Liberty venue’s spacious lobby through Dec. 17.

Jump back in time with "The Fraud"

Acclaimed British novelist Zadie Smith is back with “The Fraud,” a historical novel set in Victorian England, against the backdrop of the transatlantic sugar trade, literary London, and a real-life trial over a possibly fraudulent heir. Smith kicks off the new Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures season Mon., Sept. 18. The in-person event at Carnegie Lecture Hall is sold out, but you can still attend online.

"Take the 'A' Train" with Billy Strayhorn

Westinghouse High grad Billy Strayhorn forged one of the biggest careers in jazz. The composer of “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Lush Life” was an openly gay Black man who famously collaborated with Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. Now there’s a new musical built around his tunes and lyrics. “Billy Strayhorn: Something to Live For,” by Pittsburgh’s own Rob Zellers with Kent Gash, gets its world premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater. Broadway star Darius de Haas plays Strayhorn; the first performance is Tue., Sept. 19.

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Previous to working at WESA, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat. Email: