By Thomas Consolo
For freelance musicians, the weeks one dreads are those in which every group with which one performs decides to schedule a program at the same time. The result is artistic and financial frustration as we juggle and negotiate schedules … and see too much go by the wayside. This week, you get a taste of that life as many, many organizations serve up appealing offerings. We’ll try to narrow it down (a little) for you.
Bockfest | Downtown and Over-the-Rhine (centered around Main Street)
Friday, March 1-Sunday, March 3
Perhaps no event recaptures the neighborhood social dynamic of 1800s, German-flavored Cincinnati – and the resurgence of its epicenter, Over-the-Rhine – more than Bockfest. Though it has grown steadily over its 27 years, this traditional festival that celebrates the arrival of the year’s bock beers (and the spring that will soon follow) is not the party for you and half a million of your closest friends that Oktoberfest is. Here’s the skinny:
- The parade heads up Main Street from Arnold’s at 6 p.m. Friday.
- Through Saturday night, four stages offer live entertainment.
- On Saturday, there’s a 5K (past many historic brewing sites) and the crowning of the Sausage Queen and Beard Baron.
- On Sunday, celebrate 1800s-style Sundays in OTR with family-friendly, traditional German entertainment.
- All weekend, there are bock beers from 15 labels, a wide variety of food and walking tours of historic OTR.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Thursday, Feb. 28, and Sunday, March 3, 7:30 p.m.: “Madeline’s Madeline”
When actress Madeline gets a part in an experimental, improvisatory theater production, the director encourages her to blur the boundary between theater and reality, especially regarding Madeline’s strained relationship with her mother. As one might expect, this leads to some messy complications. It’s a 2018 film by Josephine Decker, screened as part of The Mini’s Female Frame series.
Mercantile Library | 414 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-0717
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m.: “Andrew Jackson, His Life and Times”
It’s Year Two of the Mercantile’s POTUS discussion series, examining in order the holders of the nation’s highest office. First up this cycle is Andrew Jackson, cited as a favorite predecessor by the Oval Office’s current occupant. This program may help you understand why. Repeats at noon Friday. Full series subscription required to attend.
Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m.: “Tsunami – The Tidal Wave as Introduced by Lafcadio Hearn”
Al Schottelkotte may win for longevity, but Cincinnati’s most famous journalist remains Lafcadio Hearn, 19th century immigrant (150 years ago) and reporter for both the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Commercial. Hearn later spent a decade in New Orleans and, from 1890, lived in Japan, taking the name Koizumi Yakumo. He became known around the Western world for his dispatches from there. He’s also said to be the first Westerner to use the word tsunami to describe a tidal wave. That’s key to the Mercantile’s evening with Junko Umemoto, professor at Japan’s Nihon University.
… And speaking of a tsunami, brace yourself for this week’s wave of offerings.
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas | 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174; 513-831-2052
Sunday, March 3, 5 p.m.
As we near the Lenten season, the Bach Ensemble breaks character to offer something a little different: In addition to some Bach – “Bekennen Will Ich Seinen Namen” (I Shall Acknowledge His Name), a recomposition of an aria by Gottfried Stölzel – you’ll hear the premiere of a new sacred cantata by Douglas Pew. (Curious? Listen to a podcast interview with the composer.)
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra | 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-3300
Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, 8 p.m.: “Orchestral Fireworks”
Sir Mark Elder, longtime music director of the English National Opera and, after that, of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra, leads a Czech-themed program. If you have not yet experienced the dozen blazing trumpets of Janáček’s “Sinfonietta” live, it’s something you shouldn’t miss. There’s also Dvořák’s late tone poem “The Midday Witch” (I know it as “The Noonday Witch”; same piece if you’ve heard that title). Works by Suk and Stravinsky, too, with guest artist Peter Serkin.
Concert:nova | 1404 Main St., Cincinnati OH 45202; 513-739-6682 (NOVA)
Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m. and Monday, March 4, 7 p.m.: “A Frenchman in Brazil”
In music school, Darius Milhaud’s Brazilian-inspired ballet is known as “The Bœuf on the Roof” because of the silly rhyme. Milhaud might well have appreciated that for the surrealist piece, which gets an un-silly performance under its proper title, “Le Bœuf sur le Toit” (The Ox on the Roof). Concert:nova rounds out the program with, appropriately, Brazilian chamber music. Both evenings are at the Woodward Theater.
Matinée Musicale | 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-8838
Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m.: Pene Pati
Sometimes, the road to Cincinnati can be long and winding. In the case of tenor Pene Pati, it started on the far side of the globe. Pati was born in Samoa and grew up in New Zealand. He’s won several prestigious competitions and graduated as an Adler Fellow from San Francisco Opera. On Sunday at Memorial Hall, he teams up with pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg – a Crane, Yale and Manhattan School of Music grad – for an afternoon of songs by Fauré, Liszt, Strauss and Francesco Tosti.
Miami University Symphony Orchestra | 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-2787 (ARTS)
Monday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.: “Miami Takes Music Hall”
For once, you don’t have to endure U.S. 27 to Oxford to enjoy the talents of Miami’s students. MU’s symphony, bolstered by some faculty members, makes the trip to Cincinnati to debut at Music Hall. Centerpiece of the program is the Concerto in F (an audacious title in itself) by Glen Roger Davis, associate professor of music at MU. Michael Chertock, Cincinnati’s workhorse of the keyboard, serves as soloist.
Still with us? There are three big openings this week in local theaters.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company | 1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-2273
Opens Friday, March 1: “The Winter’s Tale”
“The Winter’s Tale” is hardly unique in Shakespeare’s canon for its focus on jealousy, but it is unusual in offering a chance at redemption. It’s not so popular as the big comedies or tragedies in part because of its bifurcated nature – half cruel psychological drama, half comedy. Judge for yourself at the Budig Theater through March 23. Christopher Luscombe, a Royal Shakespeare Company veteran, directs.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati | 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-3555
Opens Saturday, March 2: “A Doll’s House, Part 2”
So what happened to Nora Helmer after the end of Henrik Ibsen’s “Doll’s House”? Ibsen gives no clue (and likely wanted the uncertainty to eat at his audiences). Playwright Lucas Hnath had an idea, though. The result is this bitingly funny sequel, set 15 years after the original. The themes remain, though: marriage, fidelity, personal independence. Through March 30.
Playhouse in the Park | 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-3888
Opens Saturday, March 2: “Two Trains Running”
No, the theater companies in town don’t actually plan their seasons collaboratively, but one occasionally gets the impression that there’s some back-channel communication afoot. Case in point: Just after the Shakespeare Company’s run of August Wilson’s “Fences,” Playhouse in the Park opens “Two Trains Running,” which just happens to be the next installment of the “American Century” or “Pittsburgh Cycle” plays – one for each decade of the 20th century, all set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh where Wilson was born. “Two Trains Running” covers the 1960s, a time of great social upheaval. Despite the change going on around them though, there isn’t much different in the daily lives of Wilson’s characters: They struggle for dignity and justice. Through March 30.
Cincinnati Art Museum | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Opens Friday, March 1: “Paris 1900 – City of Entertainment”
Cincinnati is the second U.S. stop of this major exhibition of more than 200 works created in turn-of-the-century Paris. The dawn of the new century was a time of great optimism in the city of lights, as indeed it was across Europe. Few saw the portents of the calamity that would befall the continents 14 years later. Works by artists including Antoine Bourdelle, Camille Claudel, Pissarro, Renoir, Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec are arranged into thematic groups including the International Exhibition, Art Nouveau, the Parisian Woman and Paris by Night. Through May 12.
Wave Pool Gallery | 2940 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225; 513-600-6117
Opens Saturday, March 2: “Start Over Tomorrow While There’s Still Time”
This exhibition surveys the quirky trends of the world of illustration, particularly how illustrators turn to humor on paper to cope better with the world today. Through April 6.