Whether you consider the situation a challenge or an opportunity, this is THE holiday weekend for choral music. There is a whole lot of singing going on, so take your pick or immerse yourself in four of the most interesting programs of the season…
“A Candlelit Christmas”
Friday, Dec. 9, 8 p.m., St. Francis de Sales, E. Walnut Hills
Saturday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., St. Boniface Church, Northside
Sunday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m., Lakeside Presbyterian Church, Lakeside Park, KY
VAE remains the premier chorus in the region, hand-picked by Grammy-winning music director Craig Hella Johnson. VAE assistant conductor Stephanie Nash leads these concerts, with repertoire ranging from traditional chants and hymn tunes to harmonically lush new settings of well-known texts and some new carols by living composers. Among the three venues, St. Boniface provides the best acoustics.
Sunday, Dec. 11, 3 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, downtown
Chris Eanes and Manami White have carved out a strong niche for Collegium Cincinnati, focusing on music of the Baroque and presenting this season’s only professional performance of “Messiah.” This performance will feature an outstanding, nimble chorus, fine young soloists and chamber orchestra – a scale and style reflective of concerts in Handel’s time. Well worth hearing.
“Mary: East & West”
Saturday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m., St. Cecilia Church, Oakley
Sunday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m., St. Catharine of Siena, Westwood
Camerata music director Brett Scott is a master programmer. He’s concocted a fascinating program juxtaposing music in praise of Mary from both the Orthodox and Western traditions, then performing in gorgeous spaces on both the east and west side of Cincinnati, to add just a hint of spice. Featuring works by MacMillan, Duruflé, Poulenc, Biebl, Tavener, Paulus, Rachmaninoff, and Mendelssohn. If you have not heard music in St. Catharine of Siena, give yourself a treat.
Friday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m. New Thought Unity Center, East Walnut Hills
Sunday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m. Community of the Good Shepherd, Montgomery
A new addition to our vocal music scene is this eight-member a cappella group gathered from across Ohio, exploring jazz, Motown, classical and adult contemporary music. Many of you may know actor/playwright/theater producer Joshua Steele, who helps lead the ensemble. These performances will feature selections from their debut album, “A No Promises Christmas.”
The Bad Plus
Dec. 9, Gallagher Theater, Xavier University
Love jazz, but looking for a break from holiday-themed concerts? This über-inventive jazz ensemble expands the jazz songbook in ways never imagined, from Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” to Sting, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and even Tears for Fears. Another gem from the Xavier Music Series curated by Polina Bespalko.
If you are looking for ways to evoke Christmases-past, check out the always nostalgia-inducing Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art, where you can immerse yourself in rooms filled with holiday decorations and memorabilia from 19th-century Cincinnati.
If you love toy trains, visit the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Devou Park, the newly acquired pre-WWII Lionel trains layout at Cincinnati Museum Center or the downtown Public Library (this Friday-Sunday only).
In “Soft Regards,” an installation at the Weston, artistic collaborators Elena Harvey Collins (Santa Cruz, CA) and Liz Roberts (Columbus, OH) present new work that responds to contemporary self-help sources—survivalist instruction manuals, urban planning reports, and practical guides to protecting the mind from psychic attack.
Also, at the Weston, a site-specific installation of paintings and wall drawings by George Rush (Columbus, OH), “Walls, Windows, Rooms, People,” investigates the psychological and formal impact of Modernism and how its legacies inform both the way we live and how paintings are made and seen.
At The Carnegie, “An American Outsider” shares work by Cincinnati favorite Tony Dotson firmly rooted in Folk Art traditions that frequently uses wry commentary to connect to contemporary issues and pop culture sentiments.
Also, at The Carnegie is “E is for Edie: An Edith McKee Harper Retrospective,” a major survey of the work of this important Cincinnati artist, 1922-2010.
And if art is on your wish list for Santa, Pendleton Art Center’s annual Holiday Market is 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10.