Just when you think things are returning to normal, Bockfest comes along to remind us that normal is, well, relative. Rest assured, there are plenty of saner alternatives to balance out your weekend and beyond. Choose often, yet carefully.
Thursday, March 3
College-Conservatory of Music, “Pippin” | University of Cincinnati. 513-556-4183. DETAILS: With all due respect to “Wicked,” this is my favorite Stephen Schwartz musical, filled with great tunes and a fable, of a fashion, as Charlemagne’s son seeks happiness and fulfillment as only a king’s son can, then realizes the profound meaning of simple joys. Runs through March 6.
Friday, March 4
Bockfest Parade | 6 p.m. DETAIILS: One of Cincinnati’s most iconic events returns to full force. For the opening parade, Main Street will be alive with monks and goats and drunks and floats running from Arnold’s on 8th past Liberty and to Bockfest Hall at Findlay Playground. The festival continues all weekend with a 5K, beer district tours and the crowning of the Sausage Queen, all honoring Cincinnati’s unique mix of Catholic and beer heritage. (Austin is not the only city that can claim weird.)
Cincinnati Arts Association, Alton Brown Live – Beyond The Eats | 7:30 p.m. Proctor & Gamble Hall, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-621-2787. DETAILS: Foodie alert! The wonder of Food Network star Alton Brown is how he gets underneath the science of cooking, and still injects a bushel of fun. Expect more than cooking in this culinary variety show.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Brahms, Elgar and more | 11 a.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: This program has seen wholesale changes in repertoire and personnel since announced, but still has a lot to offer. The concert opens with a surprisingly cinematic tone poem from Anna Clyne (“The Midnight Hour” 2015) followed by Elgar’s expansive cello concerto (soloist Alban Gerhardt) and Brahm’s grand Symphony No. 1, all led by Oregon Symphony and Columbus Pro Musica director David Danzmayr. Repeats Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m.
Know Theatre, “Harpers Ferry 2019” | 1120 Jackson St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-300-5669. DETAILS: This world premiere by Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin is described as representing “where America and Americana collide.” In sleepy West Virginia, a love triangle of National Park rangers train to present living history docent material about John Brown’s ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry one hundred sixty years after the event while a reality tv documentary crew looks on. When race and politics enter the equation, will history repeat itself? Continues through March 20.
Manifest Gallery, four new exhibits | 6-9 p.m. 2727 Woodburn Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206. 513-861-3638. DETAILS: The thing that sets Manifest apart from other area galleries is its injection of outsider ideas through the presentation of the very best work from around the country and beyond. Four exhibits open this Friday: “OH, KY, & IN” shares a variety of works from nearby states. “Mark” explores the art of mark-making. “Ornamental” displays decorative art. And there is a one-woman show of sculpture and prints by Bonnie Ralston. Runs until April 1.
Vocal Arts Ensemble, “The Song Among Us” | 7 p.m., Wilks Studio, Music Hall. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: First VAE performance since January of 2019, as singers have been restricted much more by COVID than other performers. The program features a world premiere by vocalist/composer Moira Smiley (Hear an earlier work above.), plus a wide range of shorter works from mid-1600s Heinrich Schütz to Caroline Shaw to VAE music director Craig Hella Johnson. The concert is intended as a safe, soothing re-gathering of sorts – of singers, of audience, of friends. Your only chance to hear VAE this season, thanks to Omicron. Full disclosure: I am singing in this concert, so say Hello! And yes, we will be masked out of an abundance of caution.
Saturday, March 5
The Barn, “Hue, Chroma and Magic” | 3-6 p.m. 6980 Cambridge Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45227. 513-272-3700. DETAILS: Opening reception for this annual show of plein air works by the Cincinnati Brush & Palette Painters. This year’s exhibit features 70 works by 20-some women artists. If you miss the opening, the show continues through March 27.
Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, “The Greatest Showmen” | 7:30 p.m. Drees Auditorium, St. Henry High School, 3755 Scheben Dr., Erlanger, KY 41018. 859-431-6216. DETAILS: One of Greater Cincinnati’s greatest showmen pays tribute to his predecessors – old and new–er. James R. Cassidy has been crafting creative programs for 30 years now. The first half of this one showcases the talents of Charlie Chaplin through a live screening, and accompaniment, of Chaplin’s film, “The Circus.” After intermission, Hugh Jackman is the focus, with excerpts from “The Greatest Showman.” Toss in some singers and a circus performer or several, and you have another typical KYSO evening’s entertainment. NOTE: New venue.
Sunday, March 6
Christ Church Cathedral, Choral Evensong | 5 p.m. 318 E. 4th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. 513-621-1817. DETAILS: These monthly services showcase significant works by Anglican composers written as a framework for scripture and prayer. Sunday’s Evensong, led by Stephan Casurella, features Adrian Batten’s Magnificat & Nunc dimittis (Fourth Evening Service), and an anthem by Renaissance composer Thomas Morley, “Out fo the Deep.”
College-Conservatory of Music, Faulty Recitals | 2 & 5 p.m. Werner Recital Hall, University of Cincinnati. 513-556-4183. DETAILS: Two of CCM’s most renowned faculty offer recitals this Sunday. Pianist Ran Dank kicks things off at 2 p.m. with a virtuoso program of Liszt and Sofia Gubaidulina in honor of the latter’s 90th birthday. Then, at 5 p.m., Ariel Quartet violist Jan Grüning offers music by Reger, Stravinsky and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 5. Maybe you can camp out in between…?
concert:nova, “Wolfgang, Ludwig and Maria Theresa” | 5 p.m. Woodward Theater, Over-the-Rhine. DETAILS: Always looking for creative linkages within their programs, concert:nova returns to perform two pieces separated in their composition by 11 years (Mozart’s Divertimento for String Trio K. 563, and Beethoven’s Septet op. 20) but linked by their composers’ connection to the Empress Maria Theresa. Seating is limited, so don’t blink. For CSO fane, here’s who’s playing: Ben Freimuth, clarinet; Martin Garcia, bassoon; Elizabeth Freimuth, horn; Stefani Matsuo and Eric Bates, violin; Caterina Longhi and Rebe Barnes, viola; Ted Nelson and Hiro Matsuo, cello; and Boris Astafiev, bass.
Harriet Beecher Stowe House, “Under One Roof: The African American Experience in Music Hall” | 4 p.m. 2950 Gilbert Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206. 513-751-0651. DETAILS: Thea Tjepkema is a preservationist, historian and archivist on the Friends of Music Hall board. In this talk, she will review the diverse involvement of Black people with and within Music Hall since its inception – builders, politicians, athletes and performing artists of all kinds.
Matinee Musicale, Zlatomir Fung in recital | 3 p.m. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. DETAILS: Matinee Musicale continues to bring in impressive guest artists. Cellist Zlatomir Fung, of Bulgarian-Chinese ancestry, was the first American in four decades and youngest musician ever to win first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2019. His diverse program, accompanied by pianist Dina Vainshtein, includes works by Beethoven, Ernst Bloch, Leoš Janáček and Judith Weir.
Monday, March 7
Joseph-Beth Booksellers, “Drive: Stories from Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere” | 7 p.m. 2692 Madison Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45208. 513-396-8960. DETAILS: Actress singer Sharon Wheatley, best known for her role as Diane in “Come From Away,” discusses her new memoir/travelogue that follows the pandemic shut-down journey of her family from Broadway’s sudden closure to when the curtains finally go back up.
Tuesday, March 8
Women Helping Women, “Rock Your Beauty” Runway Show | 6-9 p.m. Woodward Theater. DETAILS: Sponsored by the Kroger Wellness and Women’s Associate Resource Groups, this event celebrates International Women’s Day, promotes body confidence, self-love, and positivity, Enjoy vendor shopping, food, drinks, speakers and, the main attraction, a fashion show. Tickets start at $25.