The Christmas season is all about family and tradition, so what a nice time for a homecoming appearance. As your usual fearless cultural tour guide, Thom Mariner, soaks up tropical sunshine this week, I’m happy to step in to help you sort through the offerings on tap this week.
As you’d expect for mid-December, there’s plenty to choose from. And I mean “plenty” in the “there certainly are plenty of cookies around this time of year” sense. Here are some of the tastiest options:
Wednesday, Dec. 8
Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra, “Voix Pathétiques” | 7:30 p.m. 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. DETAILS: Greater Cincinnati has always been home to an embarrassing wealth of young artistic talent. If you haven’t experienced that lately, here’s your chance. The CSYO Philharmonic’s winter program, “Voix Pathétique” – pathétique means passion and pathos, not pathetic – offers up one of the great chestnuts of the symphonic repertoire, but with the special energy you get only when musicians play it for the first time. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 – the “Pathétique,” hence the program’s title – is paired with “Radiant Voices,” a 1993 work by Frank Ticheli that dates from his tenure as composer-in-residence with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Ticheli has taught at USC for 30 years.
Know Theatre, “Glassheart” | 8 p.m. 1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-300-5669. DETAILS: It’s your last chance to catch this Beauty and the Beast with a twist by Reina Hardy. A young woman in Chicago has moved into her first apartment … as has a cursed Beast with a talking lamp who’s recently downsized. Through Sunday.
Playhouse in the Park, “Need Your Love” | 7:30 p.m. 926 Mt. Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202. DETAILS: Here’s another last chance. The annual “Christmas Carol” extravaganza gets most of the acclaim around this time of year, but don’t miss the Playhouse’s Shelterhouse production about the life and music of Little Willie John, an R&B icon (and star of Cincinnati’s King Records) of the ’50s who sadly died in prison before reaching his 31st birthday. Through Sunday.
Thursday, Dec. 9
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, “Jingle Jazz” | 7 p.m. 3187 Linwood Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208. DETAILS: Vocalist Mandy Gaines – you could pretty fairly call her the CCJO’s default house singer – joins the band to celebrate the season for their annual holiday concert. Expect new takes on favorite holiday classics, many written by CCJO members, like “Nutcracker Remix,” “Christmas Time is Here” and “Have a Funky Christmas,” a tribute to James Brown’s holiday albums. It’s part of the Big Band at the Redmoor series.
Manifest Galleries new exhibitions preview | 7 p.m. 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206; 513-861-3638. DETAILS: Mies Van Der Rohe may have believed that less is more, but the folks at Manifest are not believers in this particular cornerstone of minimalism. Witness the four exhibitions opening simultaneously Thursday for previews. (The full public opening is 6 p.m. Friday.) In the galleries are “Tondo,” 30 works featuring the circle, the “king of shapes”; “Perceptual,” works made from direct observation; “Tapped,” the 12th annual showcase of works of young artists and their mentoring teachers; and “One 12,” the annual Manifest prize winner, which will be announced at the preview event. To control capacity better, tickets are timed at half-hour intervals.
Friday, Dec. 10
Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, “A Swingin’ Christmas” | 7:30 p.m., 101 S Monument Ave, Hamilton, OH 45011. 513-863-8873. DETAILS: For those in the northern part of town the CCJO and Mandy Gaines take the holiday act on the road to the Fitton Center in downtown Hamilton. It’s part of Fitton’s Showstoppers series. There’ll be some overlap with Thursday’s show in Mount Lookout, of course, but it’s jazz, you know, so don’t expect a carbon copy.
Contemporary Arts Center, “The Regional” | 8 p.m. 44 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-345-8400. DETAILS: It’s opening night for the CAC’s latest, a multimuseum celebration of artists shaping contemporary art and culture in our very own region, the Midwest. New and recent works of more than two dozen artists based in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Madison, Minneapolis and Saint Louis (and other locales) are featured, including several site-responsive commissions. Ticketed member reception starts at 5:30 p.m.; doors open to the public at 8 p.m., and there’s live music at 9 p.m. Runs through March 20.
Saturday, Dec. 11
Heritage Village Museum, “Holly Days” | Noon-4 p.m. 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, OH 45241. 513-563-9484. DETAILS: If you believe tradition is the heart of holiday celebrations, Sharon Woods is the place for you this weekend. Holly Days takes visitors back to a 19th-century holiday season. The Heritage Village will be decked out in 1800s-style decorations, and there will be treats, live music, crafts for children, and reenactments of early Cincinnati settlers. (It’s timely: Cincinnati was founded in December, you know.) Also noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
City Flea | 4-9 p.m. 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. DETAILS: We’ve plugged City Flea enough that you know the routine by now: Dozens of your favorite artistic makers offer up great products you never knew you needed until you saw them. This month’s is the annual holiday flea – and at night. Washington Park will be sparkling in its holiday best as last-minute shoppers check off their lists. If the Night Flea doesn’t fit into your schedule, there’s a daytime encore, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. (You’re welcome, holiday procrastinators.)
Cincinnati World Cinema, “Josep” and “Tokyo Shaking” | 719 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 859-957-3456 (FILM). DETAILS: The flood of holiday-themed events is fun, but sometimes it does feel like eating too many cookies. If you need a change of pace, Cincinnati World Cinema has the ticket. “Josep” is an animated film, but don’t let that fool you; it’s the story of Josep Bartolí, an artist who fought on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War and was then held in French internment camps (never heard about those, have you?). He escaped those camps for Paris only to be arrested by the Nazi-collaborating Vichy government; another escape saved him from Dachau. His drawings from the internment camps are the jumping off point for the 2020 film by the director Aurel. “Tokyo Shaking,” released this year, is the story of a French bank employee in Japan when a tsunami damages the Fukushima power plant. She must choose between management mandates and personal honor and compassion. Additional screenings Sunday.
Sunday, Dec. 12
Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas, Third Sunday of Advent Vespers | 7 p.m., 100 Miami Ave., Terrace Park, OH 45174. 513-831-2052. DETAILS: Seven Hills Baroque comes to St. Thomas Episcopal Church with a Candelelit Christmas program for the third week of Advent. There’s no Bach on the menu this time, but J.S. wasn’t the only talented Baroque composer, now, was he? Featured works are “Das Neugeborne Kindelein” by Buxtehude and “Pour la Fete d’Epiphanie” of Charpentier, performed by the Seven Hills Baroque team, guest vocalists and instrumentalists, and singers from the St. Thomas Bach Scholar program.