TV Picks 01.04.2009

SUNDAY, noon

Hot Rocks

SCIENCE CHANNEL In “Art,” the first of two hour-long episodes, Scottish geologist Iain Stewart explores the cave of Lascaux, in France, and its wall paintings by Paleolithic artists in the Magdalenian Age (15,000-13,000 B.C.). Then he examines ancient Egyptians’ palette and proceeds to Spain’s Alhambra Palace in Granada to study Arab artists’ bright colors. In “Architecture,” host Stewart shows that the ancient Egyptians used limestone and sandstone and built with triangles, the Greeks used marble and built with rectangles, and the Romans used concrete and built with circles.

SUNDAY, 1:30 p.m.

America’s Horse Championships

NBC This annual competition features quarter horses, the agile and intelligent American sprinters whose ranch work includes cutting out and sorting cattle.

SUNDAY, 1:30 p.m.

Cantos Gregorianos del Coro de Monjes de la Abadía de Solesmes

EWTN Scenes from monasteries in Spain are the backdrop for this hour-long video of Gregorian chant, as sung by the Benedictine monks of St. Peter’s Abbey in Solesmes in northwestern France. Dom Prosper Gueranger (1807-1875) restored the unused abbey, revived the Benedictine Order in France, renewed Gregorian chant, championed the traditional Latin Mass, and fostered liturgical studies.

SUNDAY, 7 p.m.

Planet Earth

DISCOVERY CHANNEL Four 60-minute episodes of this 11-part series air in succession, starting at 7 p.m.: “Deserts,” “Shallow Seas,” “Caves” and “Forests.”

TUESDAY, 8 p.m.

Nova: Secrets of the Parthenon

PBS This special about the current restoration of the Parthenon focuses on the project’s technical aspects, such as the restorers’ use of titanium connectors to hold the structure’s marble together. Experts marvel at the Parthenon’s curved lines, slight bending of the columns and other optical effects. They have undone earlier inadequate restorations, and they are trying to decipher how the fifth-century B.C. Athenians designed, engineered and built their majestic temple in just eight years. A re-air.

WEDNESDAY, 10:30 p.m.

From the Top at Carnegie Hall: Rhythm and Strings

PBS This half-hour show profiles marimba player Joshua Jones, 16, and presents performances by violinist Anna Lee, 12, and the Maggiore Trio — Lee, pianist Alice Burla, 11, and cellist Taeguk Mun, 13. The trio performs the third movement, Presto (“Gypsy Rondo”), from Haydn’s Piano Trio in G Minor. A re-air.

THURSDAY, 2:30 p.m.

Giotto: His Life and Art

EWTN Giotto di Bondone (ca. 1267-1337) painted masterful frescoes in Padua, Rome and Florence, as well as in Assisi, where he fell in love with Franciscan spirituality. His use of three-dimensional figures, natural poses, and expressive faces and gestures helped pioneer representational art.

Dan Engler writes from

Santa Barbara, California.

‘The Pink Sisters’

The Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters are a contemplative order with a community in Lincoln, Neb. Their affectionate nickname refers to their rose-colored habits. This January, they celebrate the 100th anniversary of the death of their founder, St. Arnold Janssen.