Things are beginning to wind down as we approach the big holiday week ahead, bookended by Christmas and New Year’s. But there are still several key musical events on the horizon, and numerous ongoing cultural and theatrical opportunities to impress your out-of-town guests. Below is a digest for easy consumption…
NOTE: This column will return Jan. 8, under the astute guidance of your regular soothsayer Thomas Consolo. In the meantime, thanks for paying attention in 2019. Let us know how we’re doing. If you enjoy these recommendations each week, please pass the word so we can grow and support our arts and culture partners. In the meantime, we at Movers & Makers wish you and yours a festive and most meaningful season of giving. See you in 2020!
Cincinnati Ballet: “Nutcracker” returns
Thursday, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m. | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
It would not be Christmas in Cincinnati without a major dose of Tchaikovsky dance music, and we’re lucky to have one made visually resplendent and festive through the magic of Victoria Morgan’s staging. Add the playing of the Cincinnati Symphony to the mix and you have a truly world-class holiday spectacle. There are 14 performances through Dec. 29, but it is a bit late and tickets usually go quickly. Don’t dally. If you’d like to know more about “Nutcracker” and how Frisch’s became its sponsor many years ago, read David Lyman’s profile of Blanche Frisch Maier from our December/January print issue.
cballet.org or 513-621-5219
J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. | Knox Music Series, Knox Church, 3400 Michigan Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208
The least-often performed of Bach’s major choral works is glorious, but also, as they say, a “long song,” consisting of six separate cantatas. The Knox schedule affords you the opportunity to dabble halfway or go for the whole enchilada. Parts I, II and III begin at 2 p.m. Then Parts IV, V and VI start back up at 4:30 p.m. Music director Earl Rivers leads the excellent Knox Choir, anchored by professional and CCM student soloists, plus a professional chamber orchestra full of Bach-o-philes. Admission is free, but always well-attended. Might be the last chance to experience this locally for quite awhile.
knox.org/music or 513-321-2573
An Acoustic Christmas with Over The Rhine
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 20-22 | Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
If you’ve been around these parts for the better part of three decades, the above info is all you need to know. For you newbies, Over the Rhine – named after the neighborhood before it became the center of most things new in the Queen City – is alt-folk/country duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, and they put on the warmest and most charming Christmas show in town. It’s not high energy, but it is lovely, and exceedingly well done. And to have them amidst the intimate confines of Memorial Hall makes it that much better. Another one for which you should scurry to get tickets – just three shows.
memorialhallotr.com or 513-977-8838
Second chances: No Promises Vocal Band
Friday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m. | Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, Cincinnati, OH 45204
In case you missed this outstanding ensemble last weekend, here’s another chance. If you love holiday pop songs intricately arranged for talented voices, without the need for instrumental crutch, then this is the show for you. Did I mention they are really good?
Salon 21: “Dreamscapes”
Thursday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m. | Weston Art Gallery, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Salon 21 is a chamber series crafted by dynamic young pianist Jill Jantzen, purposefully without stages and intentionally intimate. The Weston Gallery, it’s walls adorned with fascinating visual stimuli, feels more like a contemporary living room than a concert space. “Dreamscapes” is described as “a musical meditation on the nature of dreams, both abandoned and actualized.” Mezzo-soprano Lauren McAllister, a smart and velvety singer beginning to carve out a nice career path, is joined by pianist and composer Stephen Variames. The program ranges from Robert Schumann to Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking) and a recent work by Variames, himself. The concert is free, with a suggested donation.
salon21.org or 513-977-4165
Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 18-20, 8:30 p.m.-midnight | The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45223
Each year about this time, Steve Schmidt, one of the region’s finest jazz pianists, hauls his Hammond B3 organ up from the basement, decorates the side room at The Comet with as much thematic regalia as he can muster, and proceeds to blow the doors off Christmas. In what has become a tradition for jazzers, people arrive way early to grab a seat, gorge on a burrito, and nurse their beers until the magic happens. Alternatively, you can arrive about 10 and squeeze your way in for the second set. Seats do start to open up eventually, especially on “school nights.” NOTE: While a festive and fun atmosphere, this is an active listening experience, not background music for gabfests. Immerse yourself.
cometbar.com or 513-541-8900
Looking for a Christmas Eve service with outstanding choral music? Three of the best are at Christ Church Cathedral, the aforementioned Knox Church, and St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, an all-professional choir. Visit their websites for service times and details.
Of course, there are numerous worthwhile experiences continuing until the end of the month and beyond. Here are a few of particular interest … all but one for the whole family…
Cincinnati Museum Center | 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203. cincymuseum.org or 513-287-7000
- Thru Feb. 17. “Destination Moon” 50th anniversary Apollo 11 mission
- Thru Jan. 5. Holiday Junction, featuring Duke Energy Holiday Trains
Taft Museum of Art | 316 Pike St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. taftmuseum.org or 513-241-0343
- Thru Jan. 5. Antique Christmas
Cincinnati Zoo | 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220. cincinnatizoo.org or 513-281-4700
- Thru Jan. 4. Festival of Lights (Recently named #1 Zoo Lights in the Nation)
Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park | Hamilton-Cleves Road, near Hamilton. pyramidhill.org
- Thru Jan. 3. “Borealis” New Journey through Holiday in Lights
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company | 1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. cincyshakes.com or 513-381-2273
- Thru Dec. 29. “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” HINT: Leave the kids at home for this show. 😉
Ensemble Theatre | 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. ensemblecincinnati.org or 513-421-3555
- Thru Jan. 4. “The Frog Princess”
Playhouse in the Park | 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202. cincyplay.com or 513-421-3888
- Thru Jan. 5. “2 Pianos, 4 Hands” (at Shelterhouse Theatre)
- Thru Dec. 29. “A Christmas Carol” (at Marx Theatre)