What to Do/Hear/See | Jan. 15-21

“In the bleak midwinter/Frosty wind made moan/Earth stood hard as iron/Water like a stone.”

Later Christmas lyrics aside, that’s about what January is supposed to be like around here. There’s still no sign of snow on snow, of course, but that also means there’s no excuse for not getting out and enjoying the events offered us this week. As usual, there’s plenty of it, so let us help you winnow your options.


Monday, Jan. 20 | Various venues

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 91 this month. His memory and vision are still alive today, though, and on Monday’s federal holiday to honor his birthday, Americans pause to celebrate his legacy and take stock of the current state of social justice in the U.S. Events run through the day, including:

  • King Legacy Breakfast: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center recognizes the 2019 King Legacy Youth Leadership honorees at this 8 a.m. event. Betty Daniels Rosemond, one of 1964’s freedom riders, is the keynote speaker. The breakfast is sold out, but you can still get on the waiting list by calling 513-333-7541.
  • Commemorative Civil Rights March: The annual Martin Luther King Day March, sponsored for the 45th year by the MLK Coalition, leaves the Freedom Center (50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202) at 10:30 a.m. Marchers will stop at Fountain Square for an interfaith prayer service before heading to Music Hall.
  • Commemorative Program: The annual free event at Music Hall (1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202) begins at noon. Keynote speaker Tammy Kernodle, professor of musicology at Miami University, will speak on the music’s central role in the civil rights movement in “Sounds of Struggle … Songs of Freedom.” As part of the event, the MLK Chorale will bring many of the songs to life. A lobby display from the Cincinnati Public Library will feature books on King and social justice.
  • Freedom Center: Admission to the Freedom Center is free from noon-5 p.m., although it will still charge for access to some special exhibits. In addition, Hoxworth Blood Center will host a blood drive from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the center, and a mobile mammography unit from Jewish Hospital Mercy Health will be at the center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • “Pursuing His Dream”: The Cincinnati Museum Center (1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203; 513-287-7000) hosts MLK-related events from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday. On the bill are musical performances, lectures, storytelling, black history trivia and a panel discussion on black journalism in Cincinnati. Several local organizations will mount displays, and several vendors, including black-owned small businesses, also will be on hand.


‘It Happened One Night’/‘On the Waterfront’

Starting Friday, Jan. 17 | Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220

As Hollywood gins up excitement for this year’s Oscars in early February, the Esquire’s retrospective of great Oscar winners from the past continues. Check the website (remember when we checked the daily paper?) for specific showtimes.

First, there’s 1934’s “It Happened One Night.” Some younger readers may not be aware, but the rom-com is hardly a recent genre. In fact, Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable set the gold standard in this five-Oscar winner (including best picture, director, actor and actress).

Then, for something completely different, there’s Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront” from 1954. Marlon Brando (who won the best actor Oscar) could have been a contender … instead of a bum. He’s fighting corruption in the longshoremen’s union, whose enforcers are none too happy about it. The film won eight Oscars in all, also including best director (Kazan), best screenplay (Budd Schulberg, but that’s a touchy subject), and best supporting actress (Eva Marie Saint). “On the Waterfront” also boasts Leonard Bernstein’s only original film score (i.e., not adapted from another use). He was nominated for an Oscar, too, but lost to Dimitri Tiomkin.

esquiretheatre.com or 513-281-8750


CSO 125th Anniversary Concert

Saturday, Jan 18, 8 p.m. | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202

As if last weekend’s banquet of Rachmaninoff and Strauss with Renée Fleming and Behzod Abduraimov weren’t enough (and don’t you think it oughta be?, as David Letterman used say), the Cincinnati Symphony celebrates its 125th birthday (the first performance, under Frank van der Stucken, was Jan. 17, 1895) with an extremely thoughtful and creative program that invokes the orchestra’s rich history (with a little help from innovative technology) and forges into the future. Special guest artist is George Gershwin – yes, that Gershwin – courtesy of the piano roll he made of “Rhapsody in Blue.” There’s a new commission (from former principal bassoonist William Winstead), a recent commission (of Daniel Bjarnason), and music of Duke Ellington, Alexander Scriabin and Eugene Ysaÿe. I won’t spoil a surprise, but you should know that “chromatic” in describing music comes from Greek meaning “colorful.” Program repeats 2 p.m. Sunday.

cincinnatisymphony.org or 513-381-3300

Ariel Quartet

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. | Werner Recital Hall, CCM, 290 CCM Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45221

The College-Conservatory of Music’s quartet-in-residence offers a regional premiere at its next performance. The Ariel Quartet welcomes clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein at Tuesday’s concert for a performance of the clarinet quintet by Christopher Theofanidis, one of America’s most prestigious composers, which was written for the Ariel and Fiterstein. With a great clarinetist on hand, why not play the Mozart quintet, too? They will, and Beethoven’s late Quartet No. 12, Op. 127.

ccm.uc.edu or 513-556-6638

Xavier Jazz Series

Friday, Jan. 17, 8 p.m. | Gallagher Theater, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207

Pianist and composer Emmet Cohen’s signature undertaking is the “Masters Legacy Series,” a celebratory set of recordings and interviews honoring legendary jazz musicians. He has recorded or plans to record volumes in that series with drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Ron Carter, Tootie Heath, George Coleman and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. That work got a boost last year when Cohen won the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter Fellowship. You can experience that intergenerational magic live Friday when Golson joins Cohen’s trio. In his 60-year career, Golson has played and recorded with the likes of Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Earl Bostic and Art Blakey, and he’s written for artists as diverse as Count Basie, Itzhak Perlman, the Monkees and Dusty Springfield.

xavier.edu or 513-745-3000


“Buddy Holly at the Playhouse

‘In the Night Time’

Opens Friday, Jan. 17 | Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202

It’s the U.S. premiere of this 2016 play by Nina Segal, an apocalyptic bedtime story. In the small hours of the night, a man and woman try to soothe their screaming infant – but the hours grow longer, the world becomes elastic and the horrors that scar our planet threaten to crash into the baby’s room. Runs through Feb. 8.

knowtheatre.com or 513-300-5669

‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story’

Opens Saturday, Jan. 18 | Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202

It’s fair to say that without the Crickets, there would have been no Beatles. The next show in the Playhouse’s Marx Theatre recounts Buddy Holly’s 18-month, meteoric rise to fame and the indelible impact he left after his untimely death at the age of just 22. More than 20 of Holly’s hits are included, and you’ll know most of them. Runs through Feb. 16.

cincyplay.com or 513-421-3888


Opens Saturday, Jan. 18 | Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati | 1127 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202

Deborah Zoe Laufer is no stranger to Cincinnati audiences. Her “Be Here Now” was commissioned by and premiered in 2018 at Playhouse in the Park. This month, though, her work comes to Over-the-Rhine as ETC takes on her 2005 two-character romantic comedy, “Fortune” – sort of a Valentine to audiences. Maude, a lonely, third-generation storefront psychic who hates her life and her job, believes love is not in the cards for her and that she has no power to change that. When Jeremy, a despondent love-hungry accountant threatens to kill himself if she sees no love for him, she must wrestle with fate, and, in changing his destiny, change her own. Runs through Feb. 15. See a video preview here:

ensemblecincinnati.org or 513-421-3555


A Spanish writing desk from 1684, at the Cincinnati Art Museum through Sunday

‘Summerfair Cincinnati Emerging Artists 2020’

Friday, Jan. 17, 6-8 p.m. | Clifton Cultural Arts Center, 2728 Short Vine St., Cincinnati OH 45219

Summerfair Cincinnati presents a diverse exhibition featuring the work of 10 junior and senior art students from four Greater Cincinnati colleges. Exhibition awards will be presented at the opening reception. Runs through Jan. 31.

cliftonculturalarts.org or 513-497-2860


Opens Friday, Jan. 17 | Northern Kentucky University Third Floor Gallery, Nunn Drive, Highland Heights, KY 41099

This exhibition puts the spotlight on the work of NKU’s full-time and part-time faculty members. Through Feb. 21.

nku.edu or 589-572-5148

Last chance: ‘Treasures of the Spanish World’

Through Sunday, Jan. 19 | 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202

From Roman province to meeting place of competing civilizations to imperial grandeur to decadence, Spain has a long and fascinating history. So does its art, and you have one weekend left to experience this large exhibition of spectacular, priceless art and artifacts – so big it fills three of the art museum’s galleries. It’s truly impressive.

cincinnatiartmuseum.org or 513-721-2787 (ARTS)

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