By Thomas Consolo
To many folks, this Sunday is one of the most important days of the year. To those of us who do not follow sports – especially games that don’t involve local teams – there are many alternatives available. For some reason, this week’s offerings seem to manifest themselves disproportionately in music.
Cincinnati Museum Center | 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203; 513-287-7000
Thursday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m.: CurioCity – Public Landing
Considering its newly sparkling home in Union Terminal, it’s logical to associate the Cincinnati Museum Center with art deco. For the next installment of the CurioCity series, though, the center sets its Wabac machine an extra 80 years further – to the steamboatin’ 1850s and Cincinnati’s early Public Landing.
The CurioCity series comprises 21-and-over evenings that combine local experts, highlights of the restored museum center and potent potables. In this case, you’ll experience a slice of life in early Cincinnati with a “cruise” on the museum’s Queen of the West, investigate the period shops on the historic Public Landing exhibit, and toast the city in a German-style beer hall.
Contemporary Arts Center | 44 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-345-8400
Thursday, Jan. 31, 6:15 p.m.: “Schmitke”
With all the live experiences it has to offer, it’s easy to forget that the CAC curates a film series, too. It does. Next up in that Cinema at the Center series is “Schmitke,” Štěpán Altrichter’s 2014 darkly funny mystery set in the Sudetenland on the Czech Republic’s border with Germany. The hapless title character is an aging engineer who is sent to repair a wind turbine. His journey soon turns Kafka-esque, though, and we find that history is inescapable.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Thursday, Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m.: 56th Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour (16mm Program)
Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.: “The Moscow Trials”
The Ann Arbor Film Festival was a pioneer in film tours. More than half a century later, it’s still going strong. The Mini on Thursday offers six new experimental, animated, documentary and narrative works – all in 16mm.
That’s followed on Tuesday by Milo Rau’s 2014 theater-cum-documentary project that comments on the systematic crackdown on dissent under Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia. Inspired in part by the arrest, trial and conviction (to hard labor) of the activist, all-female, Russian punk band Pussy Riot.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center | 50 E. Freedom Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202; 513-333-7739
Thursday, Jan. 31, 6:45 p.m.: Lecture by author David Blight
In fairness, I need to tell you from the get-go that this event is officially sold out. Still, it may be worth a call to the Freedom Center to inquire about a waiting list. The John & Francie Pepper Freedom Lecture Series welcomes David Blight to the banks of the Ohio to talk about Frederick Douglass, the most famous African-American of the 19th century. In his newest book, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.” Blight, a professor of American history at Yale, was able to draw upon a substantial body of new materials as he crafted the first major biography of Douglass in a quarter century.
Concert:nova | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati OH 45202; 513-739-6682 (NOVA)
Thursday and Friday, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 7 p.m.: Cello+
You might be satisfied with one, but how about two world premieres on the same program? Even better, both are the fruit of commissions for or by concert:nova. There’s Pierre Jalbert’s “Shimmer and Flow,” written for Ixi Chen, clarinet, and Ted Nelson, cello. Then there’s CCM alum Michael Ippolito’s “Strange Loops for Violin and Cello,” written for Stefani and Hiro Matsuo. The two may help tip you off to the program’s theme – music for cello and, as the c:n website puts it, a musical friend. Both performances are in the warm confines of the Mercantile Library.
Vocal Arts Ensemble | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-8837
Sunday, Feb. 3, 3 p.m.: “Neruda!”
Craig Hella Johnson, VAE’s music director, is back in town to conduct a program dedicated to the poetry of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. Centerpiece is “Ode to Common Things,” a dramatic, five-movement 1996 work by Cary Ratcliff for chorus and chamber ensemble, including loads of percussion, guitar, harp and two pianists. Filling out the afternoon are two “Love Sonnets” by Shawn Kirchner and – not to be outdone by concert:nova – a world premiere, Timothy Takach’s “La Poesia” (Poetry).
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas | 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174; 513-831-2052
Friday, Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m.: Young artist recital
Sunday, Feb. 3, 10:15 a.m.: Bach Eucharist for Epiphany
The Bach Ensemble’s Mid-Winter Festival concludes with two performances this weekend. First up, on Friday, three vocalists take center stage for BEST’s first young artist recital. Soprano Amanda Olea, tenor Ryan Montgomery and baritone Hayden Smith will sing operatic arias, art songs and a baroque cantata, accompanied by pianist Stephan Variames and Bach Ensemble players.
Lent doesn’t begin this year for another month, but it was a few weeks earlier in 1725, when Bach wrote the cantata “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott” (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) for the final Sunday before Lent. The Bach Ensemble will mark the work’s 294th anniversary with a performance Sunday morning.
Catacoustic Consort | 326 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011; 513-772-3242
Sunday, Feb. 3, 3 p.m.: “Petit Concert on a Petite Viole”
As usual, Catacoustic brings to life neglected music, music for neglected instruments or both. On Sunday, it’s Renaissance and Baroque music for the treble viola da gamba and Baroque harp. It’s music Catacoustic has recorded in previous years, so you can assume they know these tunes inside and out, both technically and in spirit. At Covington’s Trinity Episcopal Church.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-6638
Friday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.: Martha Guth and Graham Johnson lieder recital
Friday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.: Philharmonia Orchestra
No, the date and time above is no error. This is the downside to the embarrassment of riches CCM brings the city. I suppose you’ll just have to decide whether you prefer your music in smaller or larger packages.
Graham Johnson is a specialist in Schubert lieder; he and Martha Guth, conveniently a CCM alumna, are now known for their joint recitals. On Friday, they’ll perform songs by Britten, Fauré and, of course, Schubert in the Werner Recital Hall. You can gain some insight into the artistic process on Saturday, when Johnson gives a master class for CCM voice and piano students.
Philharmonia, meanwhile, goes for big drama in its program in Corbett Auditorium. Weber’s sparkling Overture to “Euryanthe” gets things started, followed by Boris Blacher’s 1947 “Orchestral Variations on a Theme by Paganini” (yes, the same theme from the Caprice No. 24 that inspired Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Benny Goodman) and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the “Pathétique.” Aik Khai Pung conducts.
American Legacy Theatre | 3738 Eastern Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45226; 513-443-5429
Opens Friday, Feb. 1: “Spinning into Butter”
American Legacy Theatre says it wants professional theater to be affordable, relevant and exciting to everyone; its performances are at places where you can swig a beer, unwrap candies and talk out loud mid-performance – the way theater was for its first 2,000 years. It’s always good to see creative arts become more accessible, of course, although one wonders if Shakespeare would have minded a slightly more focused audience. With “Spinning into Butter,” ALT (get it?) takes on the very contemporary themes of racial bigotry and political correctness in the setting of a liberal arts college.
Expect a few personal insights on both sides of the footlights. Through Feb. 17 at the Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum.
“Red Bike”: Remember that bike you had when you were 11, the one that made you dream about a world bigger than the one in which you live? Be careful what you wish for. Through Saturday at Know Theatre (1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-300-5669).
Cincinnati Art Museum | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Opens Friday, Feb. 1: “Art Academy of Cincinnati at 150”
When the McMicken School of Design opened in 1869, few likely thought that, a century and a half later, the institution would continue to be a respected training institution for artists. The ties to the art museum are deep: The school was conceived as an integral part of the art museum campus in Eden Park and for decades was housed in the wing that now houses CAM’s administrative offices. The museum honors the sesquicentennial of what’s now the Art Academy of Cincinnati with this exhibition of 90 works by Art Academy faculty and alumni. That includes household names like Frank Duveneck, Elizabeth Nourse, Charley Harper and Tom Wesselmann. Through April 28.
“First Photographs”: Notable photographs from CAM’s collection that have rarely been on view and some exciting new acquisitions. Through Sunday.
Weston Art Gallery | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-4165
Three exhibitions open simultaneously on Friday, Feb. 1:
• “Thoughts Made Visceral”: This group exhibition in the Weston’s street-level space showcases the text-based work of four artists and writers with local connections as they explore the parallels between marginalia and marginalization.
• “Incognitum”: An installation by Louisville-based artist Dominic Guarnaschelli that draws inspiration from natural history, religion, education and museological display. In the lower west gallery.
• “Proximity of Syllables”: Migiwa Orimo, now based in Yellow Springs, Ohio, focuses on words and texts that are hidden from or invisible to the public. Her installation in the lower east gallery accentuates engraved punctuation marks that penetrate the walls as the text they delineate have become indecipherable.