Culture FIX: Dec. 13-19

If too much shopping and singing and decorating have you in a squeeze, take a night off and relax with something outside of your holiday norm. The Queen City is never at a loss for something inspiring to do, regardless of the season. This being our last Culture FIX of the year, make sure to check out TICKET WATCH at the bottom of this column for remaining December events you should get your tickets for NOW! Have a warm and festive holiday season and see you next year.

Wednesday, Dec. 13

Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Jingle Jazz | 7 p.m. The Redmoor, 3187 Linwood Ave., Mt. Lookout Square. 513-871-6789. DETAILS: Only a few seats remain as the CCJO and vocalist Mandy Gaines take the stage for what has become a popular annual classic. Holiday favorites receive a refresh as the orchestra performs some of its own arrangements including a “Nutcracker Remix” and “Christmas Time is Here.” Gaines sings tunes from “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” to top off the evening’s festivities. Do you remember the old Mt. Lookout Theater showing all of those cool, avant-garde movies back in the day? If you’ve not been since, you’ll enjoy the renovation of this neighborhood icon into one of Cincinnati’s premiere event centers. Thursday’s performance is sold out.

Thursday, Dec. 14

Cincinnati Ballet, “The Nutcracker” | 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-621-2787. DETAILS: We couldn’t call it Christmas in Cincinnati without the enduring presence of this dazzling Tchaikovsky favorite. (Actually, “Nutcracker” wasn’t Tchaikovsky’s favorite ballet, but it may well be ours). Clara returns along with her magical Uncle Drosselmeyer and the lovely SPF for an evening of wonder and enjoyment. Who doesn’t love Mother Ginger with that huge dress and all of her(?) children pouring out from inside all over the stage? Dozens of local young performers join the company on stage for this cherished tradition. Through Dec. 24.

Friday, Dec. 15

Denise Parroco

Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, “Merry Christmas, Darling” | 7:30 p.m. Northern Kentucky University, Greaves Concert Hall, 1 Louie B Nunn Dr., Highland Heights. 859-431-6216. DETAILS: Those of a certain age surely remember the iconic duo, The Carpenters, and the rich, sultry voice of lead vocalist, Karen Carpenter. Inspired by their 1978 album, “A Christmas Portrait,” the KSO and vocalist Denise Parroco team up to offer a mix of classical, pop, sacred and secular tunes to put you into a festive mood and maybe stir up some memories of good times. Repeats Dec. 16.

Memorial Hall, An Acoustic Christmas with Over The Rhine | 8 p.m. 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-977-8838. DETAILS: A quarter century after releasing their first holiday album, Over The Rhine is still at it with a holiday concert that intend to make “an intimate but hopefully holy ruckus.” Performing some seasonal songs on Cincinnati’s NPR station many moons ago, Over The Rhine was surprised when asked if they had recorded those Christmas songs. Twenty-five years and three holiday albums later, Karin Bergquist, Linford Detweiler and friends perform some of their best on this “Reality Christmas” program. In their own words, “it’s a complicated season.”

Saturday, Dec. 16

Exhale Dance Tribe, Hollapolooza | 5 & 8 p.m. Jarson-Kaplan Theater, Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., downtown. 513-621-2787. DETAILS: Enjoy styles of dance from hip hop to jazz in this inaugural holiday performance including live music, vocalists and a narrator. An original production directed and choreographed by Exhale artistic directors Missy and Andrew Hubbard. Additional choreography by New York-based Carlos Neto.

Youth Professional Choral Collective, FAs & LAs | 4 p.m. St. Francis Seraph Church, 1615 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-535-2719. DETAILS: YPCC is joined by the Cincinnati Boychoir for this annual family-friendly concert featuring carols old and new from different holiday traditions, along with crafts, activities and photos with Santa. YPCC is a group of young people from primarily non-musical occupations, and a range of education, socio-economic backgrounds, beliefs and ages brought together by a love of singing. A wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season experiencing music made by those who already love to sing and young boys who are just learning about the joys of singing for the very first time. Free for kids under 12.

The Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati

Vocal Arts Ensemble, An Intimate Christmas with VAE | 7:30 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., downtown. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: Conductor Trevor Kroeger leads VAE, instrumentalists and guests Queen City Cabaret for an evening of new arrangements of old favorites along with some “unexpected choral gems.” Founded in 1979 by Elmer Thomas, then-head of CCM’s choral department, VAE has earned a reputation for artistic excellence and performs a rich variety of choral works.

Sunday, Dec. 17

Canterbury Brass

Christ Church Glendale, A Festival of Lessons and Carols with Canterbury Brass | 4 p.m. 965 Forest Ave., Glendale. 513-771-1544. DETAILS: The Parish Choir and Bell Choir lead this popular Christmas season service that tells the story of Christ’s coming and birth through scriptures, anthems and familiar congregational hymns. CCG welcomes Canterbury Brass to this year’s service. If you’ve been to Christmas services in any of our local churches you may have experienced Canterbury Brass and their unique blend of contemporary and traditional repertoire. Enjoy their prelude and postlude and accompaniment to many favorite hymns.

Washington Park, The City Flea | 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. DETAILS: If your Christmas shopping still isn’t done, bundle up and head down to this year’s last City Flea in Washington Park. Yes, you heard right. Outside. Think about the blistering heat of a June or July Flea and that should warm you right up. Keep your dollars local and support small businesses year round. Bring your wallet and a sense of adventure.

Rhinegeist Brewery, Art on Vine | Noon-6 p.m. 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-1367. DETAILS: Just the fact that this town can support not one, but TWO art and craft markets in the same weekend should tell you something about the culture and creativity we are blessed with. If you still haven’t found the right gift for Aunt Agnes and Uncle Felix, head up Elm Street, ditch your coat (but, not your wallet) and head on in to Rhinegeist Brewery to see what’s on display.

Monday, Dec. 18

The Center for Respite Care, Annual Campaign Concert | 7 p.m. Sycamore Presbyterian Church, 11800 Mason Rd., Symmes Twp. 513-683-0254. DETAILS: Cincinnati pianist/conductor Michael Chertock (CSO, CCM, Blue Ash/Montgomery Symphony) performs with family and friends for the benefit of The Center for Respite Care, an organization that provides post-hospital and acute illness care for those experiencing homelessness. The program includes son Joshua Chertock on piano, soprano Kara Shay Thomson, Chris Pell, principal clarinetist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Michael Williams, finalist on American Idol and The Voice. Free, but contributions are encouraged to support The Center for Respite Care’s work.

Woodward Cinema, “Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.” | 7:30 p.m. 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-345-7981. DETAILS: Gerald Cosloy, head of Homestead Records, summarized Dinosaur Jr.’s music: “It was its own bizarre hybrid. … It wasn’t exactly pop, it wasn’t exactly punk rock – it was completely its own thing.” Considered to be an alternative rock band, Dinosaur Jr. differed in that it was influenced by classic rock, unlike other bands of the same time. Freakscene documents the band’s rise as it starts its 2024 national tour bringing back their iconic album “Where You Been” on its 30th anniversary.

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Music Live at Lunch, “A Ceremony of Carols | 12:10 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., downtown. 513-621-1817. DETAILS: The women of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir perform one of Benjamin Britten’s best-known and most-popular works. Composed on a Swedish cargo ship during World War II, the 11-movement work for three-part children’s chorus or adult female voices consists of an eclectic mix of anonymous medieval texts and more recent poems. Bring your own lunch to enjoy during the concert or buy one at the cathedral. Admission is free.

TICKET WATCH – Get your tickets now! Selling out fast! Give yourself a post-holiday treat or gift a loved one a special experience. Enjoy!

Christ Church Cathedral, Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival | 5 p.m. Dec. 30-31. 318 E. Fourth St., downtown. 513-381-3300. Go to Christ Church website to sign-up for email notifying you when tickets are on sale. These tickets go very fast.

The Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival is one of the oldest continuing festivals of the Christmas season. This pageant is rooted in ancient times when the boar was sovereign of the forest. A ferocious beast and menace to humans it was hunted as a public enemy. At Roman feasts, boar was the first dish served. Like our Thanksgiving turkey, roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christian beliefs overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar’s head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin. Christ Church Cathedral has performed the pageant since 1940 on the weekend following Christmas.

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, “STAR WARS: The Last Jedi” | Dec. 29 & 30. 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: Live orchestral accompaniment to blockbuster films typically sells out quickly. If you’ve never been to this type of concert, treat yourself. The energy in the auditorium is palpable. Composer John Williams is always a winner and a room full of “STAR WARS” fans is as fun as it gets.

Fiona illustration courtesy of Loren Long

Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, “Fiona: The Musical | Through Dec. 29. 7 p.m., with some 2 p.m. performances. 1129 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-421-3555. Very limited availability. Based on the true story of the hippo that captured the world’s heart, this story follows Fiona’s journey from premature baby to larger-than-life heroine. Book by Cincinnati native Zina Camblin. Music and lyrics by ETC composer David Kisor.

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