This week in Kansas City: Groundhog Run, Nikki Giovanni and the KC Boat and Sportshow

Kansas City Boat and Sportshow

During the inclement months when outdoor water-related activities are largely limited to ice-fishing and ice-skating, daydreams about water-skiing, sailing and houseboat vacations become even sweeter. The Kansas City Boat and Sportshow allows visitors to act on their snowbound impulses. More than 100 exhibitors and vendors will tout watercraft, sporting goods and tourism locales. Activities include hands-on tutorials at Fred’s Shed, an “interactive learning center” that offers lessons on the mechanics of boating such as “A Fast & Efficient Boat: How Your Prop Affects Your Boat’s Performance.”

2-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22; noon-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. Bartle Hall. 314-821-5400. kansascitysportshow.com. $12, children 15 and younger are free.

Kansas City Symphony: “La Mer, and Yang Plays Rachmaninoff”

“Wild Dreams,” the daring 2014 album by Joyce Yang, provided further indication that the pianist is one of the most exciting young instrumentalists in classical music. The project includes Yang’s sensitive interpretations of compositions by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The native of South Korea will perform Rachmaninoff’s imposing Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Kansas City Symphony at Helzberg Hall this weekend. Associate conductor Aram Demirjian will also lead the Symphony during performances of Maurice Ravel’s enchanting “Rapsodie Espagnole” and Claude Debussy’s impressionistic “La Mer.”

8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. Helzberg Hall. 816-471-0400. kcsymphony.org. $23-$73.

“An Iliad,” Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Anyone who once struggled with Homer’s “Iliad” as a student or who detests the simplified cinematic efforts based on the Trojan War would be forgiven for harboring reservations about the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s staging of “An Iliad.” They needn’t worry. The play is neither a dry academic exercise nor a swashbuckling sword-and-sandals production. The credits of co-writers Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson include contributions to prestigious theaters and television outlets ranging from Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater to HBO. The pair have fashioned an intelligent drama that appeals to contemporary sensibilities.

Friday, Jan. 23-Feb. 15. Spencer Theatre, 4949 Cherry St. 816-235-2700. kcrep.org. $20-$64.

Brian Culbertson

Smooth jazz gets a bad rap. The form is often ridiculed as vacuous elevator music. Fans of Brian Culbertson would counter that the soothing but undeniably funky music of the Los Angeles-based keyboardist is just as relevant as the efforts of contemporary hit-makers like Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown. At Saturday’s concert — the opener of the new season of the American Jazz Museum’s “Jammin’ at the Gem” series — Culbertson will demonstrate why he was nominated for a Soul Train Award for best jazz artist in 2012.

8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24. Gem Theater, 1615 E. 18th St. 816-474-8463. ticketmaster.com. $45.

NewEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble

Kansas Citians are rightfully proud of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The gleaming beacon of culture is magnificent both inside and out. Yet as the Kansas City Symphony has proven with its annual outdoor concerts in the Flint Hills and at Union Station, classical music needn’t be exclusively conducted in elaborate concert halls. NewEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a performing arts group specializing in contemporary classical works, usually holds its concerts at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. The debut of its Satellite Series on Saturday, however, will take place at the Buffalo Room, a new arts space at the decidedly informal Westport Flea Market.

8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24. Buffalo Room, 817 Westport Road. newear.org. $10.

Groundhog Run

The extensive industrial cave systems that burrow throughout the area are one of Kansas City’s most unusual but unheralded resources. The most notable of these spaces in the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis. Billed as “the world’s largest underground business complex,” SubTropolis was the brainchild of Lamar Hunt. While hundreds of “modern-day troglodytes” work at SubTropolis, members of the general public can sightsee at the man-made caves while participating in the Groundhog Run. The 5K and 10K races benefit the Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center, an organization that assists youth with developmental delays or disabilities.

8 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, 8300 N.E. Underground Drive. 816-756-0780. childrenstlc.org/event/groundhog-run. $50.

Winter Jam Tour Spectacular

Last January’s edition of Winter Jam drew about 11,000 people to the Sprint Center for a mix of preaching, solicitations for charitable causes and performances of Christian-themed popular music. A fresh slate of musicians is expected to draw a similarly large crowd on Sunday. The lineup includes heavy rock band Skillet, uplifting singer/songwriters Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battistelli, brother duo For King & Country and pop band Family Force 5. NewSong returns as host of the bargain-priced event.

6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. Sprint Center. sprintcenter.com. $10.

“Four Score and Seven Years Ago,” Folly Kids’ Series

One of the historical and societal touchstones of the United States, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains language and concepts that can be initially difficult for children to grasp. The 55-minute production “Four Score and Seven Years Ago” helps young viewers understand the historical and societal climate of the Civil War era by depicting the challenges faced by an escaped slave and a Confederate soldier. The educational musical examines the dilemmas that arise from their unlikely friendship.

10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 26. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. follytheater.org. $6.

Fred Vogelstein for “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution”

With the announcement of each technological development and news report about a privacy-related concern, it can seem as if the world’s populace is increasingly at the mercy of Apple and Google. The tools they’ve developed seem indispensable. The companies’ software and hardware also have an inordinate impact on the ways in which their users conduct their lives. As a contributing editor for Wired magazine, Fred Vogelstein had an inside look at the influential corporations. He’ll discuss his book on the social, political and economic impact of their rivalry at the Central Library on Wednesday.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. Kansas City Public Library-Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. 816-701-3400. kclibrary.org. Free, RSVP requested.