Culture FIX: Jan. 19-25

“Bla, bla, bla..”. I type the preceding each week as a placeholder until inspiration finally strikes and I can fill in this intro. It seems especially appropriate in these deepest depths of winter, so here are a few excuses to take your vaccinated/masked self out for some much-needed distraction/inspiration. (If you feel more comfortable at home, choose Item #1.) Hang in there, everybody; hope is on the horizon.

For your hunkering down pleasure…

Adam Tran in “Mongrel”

Know Theatre of Cincinnati, virtual theater | On demand. DETAILS: The Know team knows you’re going a little stir-crazy at home, so they are offering a selection of virtual theater – a couple for free and two more you can rent.

Here’s what you can catch for free:

  • “Crypsis.” This is a choose-your-own-path augmented-reality guided walk of Eden Park created last spring. Listen to it while you take a walk around the park, or stay at home and enjoy the April sunshine in this recorded walk-through.
  • “A Light at the End of a World.” You’ll find Victorian ephemera, model-building, puppets, poetry, storytelling, maritime jokes and more in this branching immersive piece about what to look for when you’re lost in the dark.

And available to rent:

  • “Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump” by Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin (who went on to co-write the script for Disney’s live-action Mulan) with music by Fringe Festival storytelling star Paul Strickland. An archive recording of an Appalachian ghost story for the darkest time of the year.
  • “Mongrel” by Adam Tran. This past summer’s outdoor production at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park, captured in front of a live audience opening weekend. The Great Khan requests an audience …

Thursday, Jan. 20

Zsolt Bognár

POSTPONED Xavier Music Series | Gallagher Center Theater, Xavier University. 513-745-3161. DETAILS: According to Xavier, this performance by pianist/multimedia artist Zsolt Bognár will hopefully re-appear this spring.

Friday, Jan. 21

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” | 7:30 p.m. Otto M. Budig Theater, 1195 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-381-2273. DETAILS: This Tony-nominated play by August Wilson explores themes of racism and artistic exploitation during a 1927 recording session in Chicago, with a star turn by Torrie Wiggins in the title role. Continues through Feb. 12.

Cincinnati Pops, “Cirque Goes Broadway” | Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: John Morris Russell goes above and beyond performing top Broadway hits from “Les Misérables,” “Frozen,” “Ragtime,” “Miss Saigon” and more, to accompany Cirque de la Symphonie – contortionists, balancers, tumblers, and athletes on aerial silks above the stage. Repeats Saturday evening and Sunday at 2 p.m.

College-Conservatory of Music, Moveable Feast 2022 | 7-9:30 p.m. Virtual. DETAILS: Thanks to the delayed return to classes at UC, attendees will now have to use the Internet as “A Bridge to the Stars” and follow the action from home for this smorgasbord of CCM talent from musical theater to jazz, opera to the finale of Mahler’s Symphony no. 1. The honoree is my friend for 45 years, Dr. Earl Rivers, recently-retired distinguished alumnus and professor emeritus of choral studies. Congrats, Earl. Richly deserved.

Mutual Dance Theatre, CDT Series | 8 p.m. Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center. 513-494-6526. DETAILS: Touring dance returns to Cincinnati for the first time in several years, thanks to the merger of MamLuft&Co. Dance and Contemporary Dance Theater. This inaugural performance of the Jefferson James Contemporary Dance Theater Series features Philadanco!, the Phildelphia Dance Company, celebrated for its innovation, creativity and preservation of predominantly African-American dance traditions. Repeats Saturday evening.

Saturday, Jan. 22

Creative team for CSI’s “The Andrée Expedition: designer Natalia Carlson, director Vince DeGeorge, pianist Marie-France Lefebvre and baritone Edward Nelson

Cincinnati Song Initiative, Winter Song Festival | 7 p.m. ARCO, 3301 Price Ave. Cincinnati, OH, 45205. DETAILS: “The Andrée Expedition” is a 1992 song cycle by Dominick Argento that brings to life the diaries and notebooks of the three members of Andrée’s arctic balloon expedition of 1897, all who perished and whose bodies were not discovered until 33 years later. Semi-staged in conjunction with CCM. The topic may seem bleak, but Argento – who died in 2019 – was a fantastic composer of song, choral music and opera. Sounds like a compelling evening.

On Sunday at 7 p.m., CSI presents its third annual Cincinnati songSLAM! Seven teams each present a single newly composed song for voice and piano in any language. The voting audience then votes for their favorite songs and awards a total of $2,000 in prize money. At Liberty Exhibition Hall, Northside.

2021 winning painting by Lynn Hogan

The Barn, Signature Member Exhibition | 3-6 p.m. 6980 Cambridge Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45227. 513-272-3700. DETAILS: This exhibition draws works from the Woman’s Art Club’s nearly 100 members who have achieved Signature Status as artists through a juried process. Continues through Feb. 13.

Sunday, Jan. 23

From a concert in May 2021…

Immaculata Chamber Music Series, “The Poet and the Composer” | 4 p.m. Holy Cross-Immaculata Church, Mt. Adams. DETAILS: These terrific young musicians are back at it with a concert featuring string sextets by Richard Strauss and Mozart, plus – in a first for the series – works for voice and piano. And you cannot beat the setting atop Mt. Adams, in one of our inconic, historic churches.

Monday, Jan. 24

Chamber Music Cincinnati, Danish String Quartet | 7:30 p.m. Memorial Hall, Over-the-Rhine. 513-342-6870. DETAILS: Routinely mentioned among the best string quartets in the world, the DSQ is a wonder. Known for both superb musicianship and inventive programming, this is well worth missing your regular Monday evening sitcoms.

Tuesday, Jan. 25

Paul Patterson, Don Aren, George Cunningham and Brian Lovely

Christ Church Cathedral, Music Live@Lunch | 12:10 p.m. 318 E. 4th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-621-1817. DETAILS: Still one of the best, classiest and most fun jazz acts in town, the Faux Frenchmen are the real deal. Spend your lunch hour awash in 1930’s Hot Club in Paris with this superb group of musicians.

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