By Thomas Consolo
We’re back. Did you miss us? Through a quirk of holiday scheduling, the entire Movers & Makers team was on the road for much of last week. Despite the first blast of winter (and even the white stuff), I hope you managed to find an event or two to keep you warm – at least inside. As for this week, well, it’s the usual holiday embarrassment of cultural riches, particularly if you’re in the mood for some music. Read on and see what I mean.
Heritage Village Museum | 11450 Lebanon Road (U.S. 42), Sharonville, OH 45241; 513-563-9484
Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9: Breakfast with Mother Christmas and Holly Days
The Heritage Village Museum is more than old buildings in Sharon Woods: it’s a living link to our past, which of course helps us understand better who we are. For the Christmas season, the village offers two events this weekend. At 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., you can partake of a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and fruit – and meet Mother Christmas. The family-friendly breakfast includes story time and photo opportunities with Mother herself.
Beginning at noon, you can tour the village’s historic buildings, each decked in traditional holiday finery. There will be holiday music, and children can enjoy traditional holiday crafts. Both days will feature a re-enactment of Cincinnati’s first Christmas Dinner, in 1788. (It was technically at Columbia, which at the time was still the main settlement in these parts.) The 1788 Christmas dinner features period food and clothing.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-6638
Thursday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 9: “Birthday Variations”
I know what you’re thinking: Put “dance” and “holiday” together in a sentence, and “Nutcracker” is legally required to appear. Well, hold on to your walnuts for another week. This weekend, it’s the winter offering in CCM’s Mainstage Dance Series. Deirdre Carberry directs this showcase of classic and contemporary works restaged and choreographed by CCM Dance faculty. That includes the program’s namesake piece, set to music by Giuseppe Verdi and staged by guest artist Nicole Duffy Robertson. In Patricia Corbett Theater.
Ohio Explored | 1660 Blue Rock St., Cincinnati, OH 45223
Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9, noon-6 p.m.: Ohio Maker Mart
Are you done with your Christmas shopping? (Don’t fib; Santa’s listening, and the Naughty ’n’ Nice list is digital now, so moving you to the other column is a snap.) Since I’m betting most of you are answering no, here’s a tip from the M&M elves: The Ohio Maker Mart features a few dozen of the Buckeye State’s craft and artisan makers. Why not head over to Northside and find that perfectly unique item you’ve been looking for? If you need further incentive (or if you recognize the address), it’s at Urban Artifact, so there are potable refreshments easily at hand.
Cincinnati Art Museum | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Thursday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m.: “Water”
In conjunction with the art museum’s current “Fabric of India” exhibition, the monthly Moving Images film series presents Deepa Mehta’s “Water,” from 2005. Set in 1938, it’s the story of an 8-year-old widow (yes, you read that right) who, following the custom of the day, is sent to an ashram to live out her days. As one might expect with an 8-year-old girl, there are repercussions from her presence. See the exhibition before the movie, thanks to free admission Thursdays after 5 p.m.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Thursday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.: “Extremely Shorts”
Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.: “Lil’s + Lils”
If “Water” at the art museum sounds too long for your taste, here’s the perfect alternative: a touring survey of the Aurora Picture Show’s Eclectic Annual Festival, which features curated films from the U.S., Canada, Japan, France and Italy. Each of the adventurous, new short films and videos is just three minutes or less.
Then, on Saturday, it’s a special holiday edition of The Mini’s ongoing series of short films for children. And, of course, there are bagels from Lil’s and coffee from Iris.
Mercantile Library | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-0717
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m.: Celebrating UC’s bicentennial
Authors David Stradling and Greg Hand stop by The Merc this week to talk about their new books, each of which helps celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the University of Cincinnati. Stradling’s “In Service to the City” is a more traditional history that focuses on the interrelationship of city and university. Hand, author of the fascinating Cincinnati Curiosities blog, served as editor for “From the Temple of Zeus to the Hyperloop,” a companion collection of 35 essays (and a play and a poem) on the UC experience. Contributors included Sarah Jessica Parker, former Gov. Bob Taft, and UC faculty, alumni and students.
If you can manage it (sorry for the ridiculously short notice), there’s another interesting event at noon Wednesday: The monthly First Wednesday book discussion focuses on the 1927 Mississippi flood and its profound ramifications across the country. If you’ve never heard of it, and you’re already downtown, stop by with your lunch.
Relatively speaking, there really isn’t that much music for most of our holidays. No Veterans Day carols or Labor Day hymns, for example. (How “1812,” Tchaikovsky’s paean to absolute, dynastic monarchy, became a Fourth of July tradition is still a head-scratcher, too.) We saved it all up for Christmas, the most tuneful time of the year. It’s also the season when “the usual” is generally a good thing.
Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center | 620 Greenup St., Covington, KY 41011; 859-431-0020
Saturday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.: Comet Bluegrass All-Stars
Here’s a perfect example of “the usual” being a very good thing. The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars have built quite the zealous following over the years. If you’re not (yet) a fan, head on down to Covington and find out why.
Catacoustic Consort | 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174
Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: “In Dulci Jubilo!”
Buon Natale from the region’s premiere early music group. Catacoustic’s musical gift – Italian Baroque holiday music – comes wrapped in candlelight for a more intimate experience. Jordanian-American soprano Nadine Balbeisi joins the theorbo, harp and lirone at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra | 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219; 513-280-8181
Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m.: “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
You know it’s true: For “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Vince Guaraldi created the greatest television show soundtrack in the medium’s history. You can hear the best of it performed live Sunday as part of the CCJO’s Jazz@First series. Saxophonist Hal Melia joins the Phil DeGreg Trio at First Unitarian Church for several of Guaraldi’s classics (Have you listened to that long version of “Greensleeves” lately? You should.) mixed with some of the band’s seasonal favorites, too. A great day for kids of all ages.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-6638
Saturday, Dec. 8, and Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 and 5 p.m.: “Feast of Carols”
No one at CCM escapes the Beast of Carols. It’s the kind of cavalcade of talent that only one of the world’s great conservatories could mount. Four CCM choruses, the Concert Orchestra and guest choirs from area high schools join forces for “the usual” celebration in Corbett Auditorium. And it’s a good thing.
Collegium Cincinnati | 318 E. Fourth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-428-2224 (BACH)
Sunday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m.: “Messiah”
I don’t want to sound too Scrooge-like, but I’d like to get two things straight here: The name of Handel’s most famous oratorio is “Messiah,” not “The Messiah,” and it’s an Easter piece, not a Christmas piece. That said, we often forget from hearing it too often (and too often done badly) that it really is a masterpiece. Here’s your chance to hear a solid rendition. Collegium this year is teaming up with the Cincinnati Boychoir on several choruses, too, so double incentive.
Fitton Center | 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton, OH 45011; 513-863-8873
Saturday, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m.: Christmas Spectacular
Along with the demise of local TV programming, we’ve lost many of the region’s great song stylists. Nancy James is still going strong, though, and she’s back for a third year on the banks of the Great Miami with the 10-piece River City Band for a mix of Christmas favorites, contemporary holiday hits and fun surprises.
Salon 21 | Weston Art Gallery, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-2787 (ARTS)
Thursday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m.: “Doorways: Half-Remembered Music”
If holiday music 24/7 is getting to be a bit much for you, here’s a Christmas-free evening. Pianist Susan Yang performs a program of music by very different composers from very different times – Bach, Chopin, Shostakovich and George Crumb. Despite the wildly different styles, Yang makes that case that there are subtle connections to be brought out.
Aronoff Center | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-241-6060
Wednesday, Dec. 5, through Friday, Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m.: “An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas”
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ….” Neck and neck with Bing Crosby and “White Christmas,” Nat King Cole’s is the voice that means Christmas to most Americans. Evan Tyrone Martin portrays and performs Cole in this look at the iconic performer’s personal journey. In the Jarson-Kaplan Theater.
Cincinnati Black Theatre | 693 Fresno Road, Cincinnati, OH 45240; 513-241-6060
Opens Friday, Dec. 7: “Black Nativity”
One problem with U.S. Christmas traditions is that they tend to be pretty, well, European. “Black Nativity” dates to 1961 and is a song-play by Langston Hughes. It tells the Christmas story to the sound of Gospel music. Cincinnati Black Theatre’s annual production is becoming a tradition of its own, incorporating dance and visual spectacle. If “the usual” is not the answer this year, maybe this is the balm you need. Weekends through Dec. 15.
Manifest Gallery | 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-861-3638
Through Friday, Dec. 7: “Animalis”
Images of animals in art. Thirty works selected from 434 submissions. Concurrent exhibitions also close Dec. 7:
- “Soil and Dirt”: While they may seem beneath us (pun intended), soil and dirt are what we’re made of and live on. Nine selected works.
- “Plein Air”: A selection of 27 works created outdoors.