In case you didn’t know, the most important day of the year was last weekend. I mean, of course, the coming of daylight saving time and, with it, the opportunity to enjoy some natural light in the evening. Apparently, this was the cue a queue of festivals was waiting for, because this weekend is chock full of ’em. The bigger ones even offer a selection of beverages suitable for toasting. So go forth and celebrate!
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Saturday and Sunday, March 14 and 15 | Multiple downtown venues
As Bockfest a few weeks ago reminded us, there’s a German-themed [something]fest in these parts for just about every season. Grateful as we are to the culture of the Vaterland, though, the Teutons were not the only immigrant group to make the Ohio Valley their home. If you doubt it, just ask: Where is America’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade? Well, it’s here, don’t ya know, and it’s the cornerstone to a weekend of activities before the actual day – Tuesday.
On Saturday, start your celebration at the Banks with the aforementioned parade – No. 54 if you’re counting. It steps off promptly at noon on Mehring Way (Google calls it Ohio River Scenic Byway, but they’re not from here, are they?) in front of Paul Brown Stadium. Grand marshal is No. 14, Kenny Anderson. The parade winds past Great American Ball Park and the Freedom Center before dispersing at Freedom Way and Vine Street. That’s convenient because, just four blocks due north, two celebratory afternoons of Irish-themed food, drink and live entertainment will just be kicking off at Fountain Square (Fifth and Vine streets). At 2 p.m. Sunday, you can walk off the potatoes and Guinness by heading to the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library (800 Vine St.) for its 38th annual St. Paddy’s celebration. Enjoy performances by Foley Road and, of course, the McGing Irish Dancers.
If you’d rather celebrate in a more indoor manner, Clifton’s Esquire Theatre (320 Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220; 513-281-8750) runs a cluster of Irish-themed films from Friday through Tuesday. Two, “Michael Collins” from 1996 and John Ford’s “The Informer” from 1935, focus on Ireland’s early 20th-century fight for independence from Great Britain. There’s also 1993’s “Leprechaun” (not a happy one) and 1991’s “The Commitments.”
CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS AND EXHIBITS
‘Maya: The Exhibition’
Opens Saturday, March 14 | Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45203
It’s actually quite appropriate for the museum center to follow its Apollo exhibit with a look at the Maya. Among indigenous American civilizations, theirs was among the most scientifically advanced, with the most accurate calendar in the western hemisphere, advanced mathematics that invented the zero and excellent astronomers. More than 300 artifacts are part of the exhibit, which covers not only the ancient glory days but how the civilization collapsed and how it survives today through its language and culture. Runs through Sept 7.
cincymuseum.org or 513-287-7000
ArtsWave Days: OTR Arts Day
Saturday, March 14 | 11 neighborhood venues
ArtsWave’s community campaign continues, and with it comes another day of free events to show off our region’s virtual embarrassment of cultural riches. If last week’s was a lesson in geographic breadth, this week’s is about neighborhood critical mass. The theme is Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati’s artsiest neighborhood. Eleven venues offer programming. Music Hall tops the bill as its own event microcosm, with tours and live performances in four spots in the complex. Also participating are OTR’s theaters – Ensemble Theatre, Know Theatre and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; Washington Park, with food trucks and live entertainment; educational institutions SCPA and the Art Academy; Elementz, Memorial Hall, Pendleton Art Center and Rookwood Pottery. Check the ArtsWave website for specific times and offerings.
guide.artswave.org or 513-632-0134
Cincinnati International Wine Festival
Thursday through Saturday, March 12 through 14 | Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202, plus other regional venues
It’s the 30th year for one of the region’s best ideas: Taste great wines to raise money for area charitable organizations. Since 1991, the event has given more than $6 million to worthy Tristate organizations. In 2019 alone, more than $400,000 went to 35 nonprofits whose focus runs the gamut from health research to education and social services to the performing arts. This year’s festivities, mostly at the Duke Energy Convention Center, include grand tasting events Friday and Saturday, and a charity luncheon and auction on Saturday afternoon.
winefestival.com or 513-241-3434
Benesse Lecture: Alison Saar
Sunday, March 15, 2 p.m. | Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202
The work of internationally acclaimed artist Alison Saar uses the human body as the jumping point to explore racism, sexism, ageism and the social dimensions of biracial identity in contemporary America. She gives the 20th Benesse Lecture Sunday in the museum’s Fath Auditorium; she’ll reflect on her career so far. (In case you’ve never heard of it, the sponsoring Benesse Corp. is the parent of Berlitz Language Schools.)
cincinnatiartmuseum.org or 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Barrows Lecture: Gary Nabhan
Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m. | Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45220
The Cincinnati Zoo’s Barrows Conservation Lectures bring esteemed naturalists here to speak about major wildlife issues and conservation efforts. Kicking off the 2020 series is ethnobiologist and nature writer Gary Nabhan. He’s also a MacArthur Grant recipient – the so-called “genius award.” He’ll discuss his latest book, “Food from the Radical Center.”
cincinnatizoo.org or 513-281-4700
Pavel Haas Quartet
Thursday, March 12, 7:30 p.m. | Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Chamber Music Cincinnati offers its third and final string quartet of the 2019-20 season on Thursday with the Pavel Haas Quartet. Since its founding in 2002, the quartet has won impressive awards both in performance and for its recordings. Its program Thursday includes a quartet by rarely performed Czech composer Bohuslav Martinů. That’s balanced by quartets by the very-often-indeed performed Bela Bartok and Ludwig van Beethoven. It’s Bartok’s No. 4 and Beethoven’s No. 13. But wait; there’s more: Performers of that Beethoven quartet usually have to decide which finale to play, the original – the massive “Große Fuge” (Great Fugue) – or the shorter piece Beethoven was encouraged to write because the fugue was so long. You get to decide for yourself which works better; the Pavel Haas Quartet will play both.
cincychamber.org or 513-342-6870
CSO: Handel and his contemporaries
Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, 8 p.m. | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Among the acoustic benefits of Music Hall’s renovation a couple years back was making a program like this possible. I was not one of the people who bemoaned Music Hall’s pre-renovation size (the loaded adjective pro-renovation folks usually invoked was “cavernous”), but, to be fair, it would not have accommodated music on the intimate scale of this weekend’s Cincinnati Symphony concerts.
It might surprise you to read, but Handel would likely have called himself primarily an opera composer, or at least a vocal one. You can hear a fine early example in “Il Delirio Amoroso” (The Delirium of Love), a dramatic cantata for soprano and small orchestra written in 1707. Also on the program are works by Vivaldi and Zelenka. Jonathan Cohen conducts; lutist Thomas Dunford and CCM-trained soprano Joélle Harvey are the soloists. Nostalgia note: Longtime listeners of WGUC-FM will recognize the slow movement of Vivaldi’s lute concerto, RV 93, as the theme to “Evening Concert,” hosted by Gary Barton.
Post concert, Harvey and Dunford perform an hour-long intimate concert in the seconf-floor Wilks Studio as part of the new CSO Night/Light series. Check for ticket availability.
cincinnatisymphony.org or 513-381-3300
Linton Chamber Music: Miami String Quartet
Sunday, March 15, 4 p.m. | 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219
If Thursday’s Pavel Haas concert just whetted your appetite for more quartet music, Linton Chamber Music on Sunday presents the Miami String Quartet (as in Miami, Florida, not Miami University, by the way). Keystone of the Miami’s program is Glazunov’s Quintet for Strings in A Major with special guest (and here’s the local connection) Eric Kim, former CSO principal cellist. Also on the bill are Smetana’s Quartet No. 1, “From My Life,” and, somewhat surprisingly, a duo my Martinů, whose music I maintain actually is rarely performed.
lintonmusic.org or 513-381-6868
CenterStage Players: ‘Momus & Aphrodite’
Opens Friday, March 13 | Lockland High School, 249 W. Forrer Ave., Lockland, OH 45215
I’ve commented before that it isn’t just the big-marquee, professional theaters that offer us interesting works. CenterStage Players this weekend debuts a new play by local playwright Fred Rothzeid. It’s a twist on ancient Greek myths: Momus, god of satire and blame, travels with Aphrodite, goddess of love and Beauty, to Athens in search of a man willing to die out of love for her. Except it’s Athens, Ohio, not Greece. Does love conquer all? Six performances through March 22.
centerstageplayersinc.com or 513-588-4910
‘The Last Five Years’
Opens Thursday, March 12 | Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, Cincinnati, OH 45204
For its next show atop Price Hill, Cincinnati Landmark Productions mounts Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years.” The musical, which premiered in 2001 in Chicago, explores a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress. The story is told, though, in two different timelines. Jamie’s story is told as we’d expect, from the beginning; Cathy’s starts at the end and runs backward. The two characters interact only at the midpoint, their wedding. Runs through March 29.
cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com or 513-241-6550
Thunder-Sky: ‘Eminent Domain’
Open Saturday, March 14 | 4573 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45223
The folks at Thunder-Sky have declared that the gallery will close at the end of 2020, but that doesn’t mean they’re coasting to their final landing. The Northside gallery has a full slate of exhibitions on tap, including “Eminent Domain,” which opens Friday. Works by Reed Ghazala, Jason V Mann and Patrizio Martinelli investigate the meaning of private property and public imagination using collages, assemblages and photographs. Runs through April 30.
raymondthundersky.org or 513-426-0477
Wave Pool: ‘Camp Street Corner’
Opens Saturday, March 14 | 2940 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225; 513-600-6117
Mark Harris investigates the African plant diaspora and the uses of plants in the Americas, including the Caribbean, during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Text-based works also relate to the musical connections across the expanse. The show is a collaboration with Domonique Peebles of Brick Gardens, who will grow herbs in the gallery as a sculptural “living library.” The germination station installation will conclude with a dinner in partnership with the Welcome Project. Runs through May 2.
wavepoolgallery.org or 513-600-6117