By Thomas Consolo
Spring has sprung in the local arts scene. There are as many things to do this week as there are daffodils in the yard – only an even wider variety. Whether indoors or out, historic or avant-garde, tuneful or visual, it’s all here for you. Start picking your bouquet.
The church’s integral role in the history of western music – and particularly choral music – is never so evident as during the Easter season. For a bounteous example, take … well … this weekend, which climaxes in Palm Sunday. The following performances are all on Sunday, and they don’t all quite completely conflict:
Collegium Cincinnati | 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-428-2224 (BACH)
3 p.m.: Mass in B Minor
Bach’s masterpiece, completed just a year before his death in 1750, was the pinnacle of choral sacred music at its creation; it’s a rank many argue the piece hasn’t relinquished over the centuries. Collegium Cincinnati performs it in a chamber version (with orchestra) at Christ Church Cathedral (318 E. Fourth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202).
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas | 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174; 513-831-2052
5 p.m.: Vespers for Palm Sunday
Bach did not emerge from the void but from a continuum of great composers. In the century before JSB, the greatest composer, at least in Germany, was Heinrich Schütz. The Bach Ensemble pays its homage with a performance of “Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund” (While Jesus was on the Cross), a German setting of the Seven Last Words of Christ from around 1650. Schütz studied with both Gabrieli and Monteverdi. Here’s a chance to hear how he took the baton he was passed and ran.
Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble | 3766 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-304-5436
7:30 p.m.: Spring Concert
A high-powered quartet of vocal soloists – Susana Díaz, Audrey B. Luna, Mary Elizabeth Southworth and Daniel Weeks – is featured as part of the Fusion Ensemble and its other guests: organist Isabelle Demers, the Choir of Calvary Episcopal Church and the Cincinnati Choral Society for music by Bach, Bernstein, Fauré, Franck, Verdi, Wolf and more (including by Fusion’s conductor, Howard Helvey). Best details are at the event’s Facebook page.
May Festival Chorus | 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-3300
8 p.m.: Bach at the Basilica
The May Festival’s select Chamber Choir traditionally joins forces with its Youth Chorus for a performance at Covington’s beautiful Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (1101 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011). Usually it’s part of the annual May Festival; this season, they’re stretching the definition of May by offering it as a festival “extra” this Sunday. On the program are works by Bach, Poulenc and Vaughan-Williams. The youth chorus performs a world premiere, commissioned of Clarice Assad.
One last worthy mention is on Saturday, the day before:
Lebanon Symphony Orchestra and Chorus | 123 N. East St., Lebanon, OH 45036
Saturday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.: “Messiah”
If you’ve followed these picks for a while, you’ll know one of my pet peeves is the misconception that Handel’s “Messiah” is a Christmas piece. It’s not. Hear it complete –the whole story – at Lebanon Presbyterian Church. So why Saturday instead of Sunday? The oratorio was premiered April 13, 1742. Happy anniversary.
Heritage Village Museum | 11450 Lebanon Road (U.S. 42), Sharonville, OH 45241; 513-563-9484
Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m.: Regency Rally
In Britain, the Regency (roughly 1810-1820) evokes an era of a playboy prince (the future George IV) and victory – twice – over Napoleon. In America, it was a key decade spent forging a unique national identity and having to fight a second round with the U.K. to secure our independence. Get a glimpse of life in early 19th-century America on the frontier (meaning right here) at the Heritage Village Museum’s Regency Rally. The daylong celebration includes a militia drill, fashion show, period games and food.
Contemporary Arts Center | 44 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-345-8400
Thursday, April 11, through Sunday, April 14: “This Time Tomorrow”
It’s the city’s new, four-day festival of contemporary performance. There are venues across the center of the city, from Wave Pool Gallery to the Purple People Bridge to Pique in Covington, but all centered around the CAC, the festival’s presenter and home base. It’s an eclectic lineup that you’ll just have to peruse to appreciate. Learn more about the germination of TTT and its founder, Drew Klein.
Lloyd Library and Museum | 917 Plum St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-721-3707
Through Aug. 23: “Through the Rx Bottle”
Until 1937, many medicinal products sold in the United States included cannabis. The sellers then are still recognizable in the world of Big Pharma today, including Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis (and, in Cincinnati, Lloyd Bros. Pharmacists). Fast forward 90 years, and medical marijuana is again a hot-button topic. The Lloyd, one of downtown’s low-profile gems, joins forces in its latest exhibit with the Cannabis Museum in Athens, Ohio (go ahead, insert your OU joke here), to investigate the history of medicinal cannabis through artifacts. Medical and trade publications, and botanical illustrations from the Lloyd’s collection accompany the artifacts. Remember: The Lloyd has quirky hours. Call before you go.
The Mini Microcinema | 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sunday, April 14, 7:30 p.m.: “Hardface”
This full-length documentary follows Richard “Hardface” Mason, a fighter turned trainer at Northside (yes, our Northside) Boxing Gym. The film offers a look into the world of amateur boxing and explores the bond between fighter and trainer. Director Mark Hood will be at the screening. Repeats 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. (Hood will again be there.)
Palm Sunday is a big musical deal, but it’s not the only thing going on this week.
Cincinnati Arts Association | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-381-3300
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.: Black Violin
Orchestral instruments aren’t usually the heart of a trendy crossover group whose music touches on everything from the classics to hip-hop – and especially not a viola – but Wil B. and Kev Marcus didn’t get that memo. The result is Black Violin, which has now shared the stage with megastars like Aerosmith and Kanye West. Their album “Stereotypes” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard classical crossover chart. Come see what all the fuss is about as they bring their “Impossible” tour to the Queen City.
Xavier University | 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207; 513-745-3000
Tuesday, April 16, 8 p.m.: Brad Mehldau
It’s unfortunate timing that on the same night, the Xavier Jazz Series welcomes pianist Brad Mehldau to the Gallagher Theater. Mehldau is known for his trio work, most famously in five volumes of “Art of the Trio”; as a solo pianist, like in “Elegiac Cycle”; and a cross-genre collaborator, including work with classical singers Anne Sophie von Otter and Renée Fleming.
College-Conservatory of Music | 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-6638
Friday through Sunday, April 12 through 14: “La Clemenza di Tito”
Mozart was the busiest composer in Europe in 1791. In what turned out to be his last year, the 35-year-old already was working on “The Magic Flute” when he received commissions for the Requiem and an opera to honor the coronation of Leopold II as king of Bohemia. Appropriately for the occasion, “La Clemenza di Tito” is a parable of enlightened monarchy told with ancient Roman characters. CCM gives the opera seria a political treatment, too, setting it in Cuba during the revolution. A stretch? Yes, but you can always just listen to Mozart’s music. One-a-day performances in Corbett Auditorium.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati | 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-3555
Opens Saturday April 13: “Skeleton Crew”
ETC presents the regional premiere of this Dominique Morisseau portrait of courage and camaraderie in blue-collar America. Set in Detroit in 2008, a tight-knit trio of autoworkers faces tough decisions about the future, while their foreman weighs the demands of white-collar management status against his fierce loyalty to his team.
Two last chances:
• “Travels with Turner”: This exhibition of the Taft Museum of Art’s 10 watercolors by J.M.W. Turner includes dramatic landscapes from Switzerland, Germany, France, England, Scotland, and Italy. See them while you can: They’re so susceptible to light damage, these treasures rarely come out of the vault. Through Sunday (316 Pike St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-241-0343).
• “Canstruction 2019”: Local teams race to build whimsical structures entirely from canned and packaged food in this international competition. It’s organized in Cincinnati by the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the Society for Design Administration. At the Aronoff Center’s Weston Art Gallery, and other downtown locations, through Sunday (650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-977-4165).