Culture FIX: Jan. 31-Feb. 6

We’re at that awkward stage in Culture FIX this week: Some events still mark our bleak midwinter, while hints of Mardi Gras and (dare we say it?) spring start elbowing their way in. Throw in the revival of a dreaded vampire and an invasion of toothy furry creatures and some atrocious puns … Well, I did say awkward, didn’t I? Read on:

Wednesday, Jan. 31

William Schuman

CCM Wind Ensemble, “Inspirations” | 7:30 p.m. Corbett Auditorium, University of Cincinnati. 513-556-4183. DETAILS: Leading off this concert of music inspired by landmarks and cultures is “George Washington Bridge” for band by the strangely under-sung hero of American music, William Schuman. A composer of big, bold symphonies, ballets and even a baseball opera, Schuman also was a top arts administrator who presided over both Juilliard and Lincoln Center. A second highlight of this program, conducted by emeritus faculty member Terence Milligan, is a work by another master American composer: Joan Tower’s cleverly titled “Fascinating Ribbons,” a study of curving, undulating shapes and patterns.

Thursday, Feb. 1

Ningjialu Liu and Nuoya Zhang

Xavier Music Series, pianists Ningjialu Liu and Nuoya Zhang | 8 p.m. Gallagher Center Theater, Xavier University. 513-745-3161. DETAILS: This Xavier series recital features two brilliant young Chinese-born pianists, Ningjialu Liu and Nuoya Zhang, in performances that include some truly impressive virtuoso stuff: Maurice Ravel’s fiendish “Gaspard de la Nuit,” Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata No. 3, Frederic Chopin’s “Barcarolle,” and William Hirtz’ keyboard-chewing fantasy on themes from “The Wizard of Oz.”

John E. Dowell, “Reverence of my Egun,” 1989

Solway Gallery, works by John E. Dowell and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson | Opening reception 6-8 p.m. 424 Findlay St., West End. 513-621-0069. DETAILS: Two intriguing shows open at the Solway: paintings and aquatints from Philadelphia artist/jazz pianist John E. Dowell’s improvisational “White Painting” series, which was inspired by the music of John Cage and John Coltrane (quite a duo at that!); selections in diverse media by the late Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, a Columbus artist/author who worked in sculpture, woodcut, quilting, painting and more to construct pieces that reflect Black history during slavery. Through April 26.

Music Live@Christ Church, Vox Cor Trio | 12:05 p.m. Christ Church Glendale, 965 Forest Ave., Glendale. 513-771-1544. DETAILS: A rather unusual Cincinnati ensemble – piano, trumpet and trombone – founded by pianist Mika Komuro in 2022: The trio performs arrangements of classical vocal music without the lyrics, looking to communicate the music’s emotional depth “without a word.” Trumpeter George Carpten and trombonist David Roode join Komuro. Free.

Levi Hammer

Concert:nova, “Gershwin in Vienna” | 7:30 p.m. First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St., Avondale. DETAILS: Conductor/pianist/musical scholar Levi Hammer, in town to present concert:nova’s premiere of his new arrangement of Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pelleas und Melisande” Jan. 30, gives a bonus piano program that explores George Gershwin’s musical connections (fascinating ribbons?) to the composers of the Second Viennese School: Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern.

Friday, Feb. 2

Cincy Beerfest | 7:30 p.m. Duke Energy Convention, 525 Elm St., downtown. DETAILS: I don’t know of any scholarship regarding Arnold Schoenberg’s (see above) taste for beer, but I do recall a story in which the serialist composer walks into a bar and says, “Hello. I’d like a gin, but no tonic!” Rimshot, please. But seriously, folks, Cincinnati’s annual brewmaggedon, where you can sample more than 150 local and craft beers, might be just the tonic for the winter blues. Tickets, available for any of the festival’s three three-hour sessions, entitle you to 25 samples and a small souvenir mug. Also 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3.

Cristian Măcelaru

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, “Shostakovich: 1905” | 11 a.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: I never liked Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, with its tacky tunes and revolution-hawking bombast, until I heard Music Director Louis Langrée lead the CSO in a powerful 2015 performance that left the players, the conductor and probably some audience members in sweaty exhaustion. Then I got it: This symphony depicting the 1905 Russian revolution is a massive cinematic epic without the cinema – which makes sense, as Shostakovich got his musical start as a teenager improvising piano accompaniments for silent movies. This is not to slight the other big work on the program: Witold Lutosławski’s 1970 Cello Concerto, one of his finest and best-known works. Cellist Kian Soltani is the soloist, and Grammy-winning conductor Cristian Măcelaru is at the podium. Repeats 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3.

The Carnegie, “Hello, Dolly!” | 7:30 p.m, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington. 859-491-2030. DETAILS: The blockbuster 1964 Jerry Herman musical, which originally starred the inimitable Carol Channing as matchmaker Dolly Levi, still is irresistible fun for audiences. And, of course, it boasts the most memorable Broadway title tune since “Oklahoma!” (Must be the exclamation points!) Based on Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker,” it won 10 Tony Awards, including one for Channing! Soon it became a hit, Oscar-winning film as well! Channing was followed by a host of stars in the title role! Like Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Barbra Streisand, Pearl Bailey, Bette Midler and Betty Buckley! Sara Mackie stars in the Carnegie production! With Joe Bertucci directing and Elizabeth VandeWater as choreographer! Through Feb. 18!

Saturday, Feb. 3

Frederic Rzewski

Collegium Cincinnati, Frederic Rzewski’s “The Fall of the Empire” | 4 p.m. Knox Presbyterian Church, 3400 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park. 513-428-2224. DETAILS: This is an extraordinary opportunity to hear an enigmatic masterwork by the radical American composer Frederic Rzewski, who died in 2021, performed by the musician it was composed for, over a period of many years: local percussionist Allen Otte of Percussion Group Cincinnati fame, who premiered it in 2007 at a CCM music festival. Rzewski’s wildly discursive, fragmented work is a socio-political commentary on the fall of a great empire, Insert Name Here. Rzewski, who taught for a time at CCM and was also an outstanding pianist, is perhaps best known for his monumental set of variations for piano on the Chilean protest song “The People United Will Never Be Defeated.” Still, it’s possible to overstate the significance of Rzewski’s politics. When a newspaper reporter asked him if he was a Marxist composer, he responded, “Harpo or Groucho or what?”

Playhouse in the Park, “Dracula” | 7:30 p.m. Rouse Theatre, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mt. Adams. 513-421-3888. DETAILS: So, you might say, haven’t the many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s 1897 “Dracula” over the years sucked all the blood out of this iconic vampire novel? No, but fangs for asking. The Playhouse sheds new light (Close those drapes, please!) on the story through the world premiere of a theatrical retelling – with some intriguing twists – by playwright Vanessa Severo and Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Joanie Schultz. The Playhouse promises “humor, humanity and blood-curdling thrills.” Clearly, there’s a lot at stake here. Through March 3. (Read more about Joanie Schultz from our February magazine, c/o David Lyman.)

Sunday, Feb. 4

Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Jazz@First Series, Mardi Gras Party | 2 p.m. First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St, Avondale. 513-280-8181. DETAILS: Well, with the sinister Count back in his coffin, it’s time for the saints to march in. The CCJO presents the Queen City Vintage Vibe in a Mardi Gras program of New Orleans jazz classics and more. For the record, Mardi Gras isn’t until Feb. 13, but it’s never to early to let the good times rouler, as they say. QCVV is a quartet – pianist Phil DeGreg, clarinetist Joe Lukasik Sr., trumpeter Sally Lukasik and bassist Aaron Jacobs – that plays New Orleans jazz, swing, blues and more. Complimentary wine and cheese will be served at intermission. Bring your own beads.

Four Seasons with Seven Hills, “Winter” | 3 p.m. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 7701 Kenwood Road, Kenwood. DETAILS: Seven Hills Baroque continues its concert cycle focused on Antonio Vivaldi’s famous “The Four Seasons” with a “Winter” program. In addition to the seasonal Vivaldi concerto, the group will present other Baroque-era works – by J.S. Bach, Henry Purcell, Arcangelo Corelli and others – that evoke scenes of the season, with complementary art and poetry as part of the event. The program is free to the public, but donations are encouraged, and 30 percent of the proceeds will go to Lighthouse Youth Services. The concert is part of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival, which started Jan. 28 and has events on tap through March 3.

Monday, Feb. 5

Jazz at the Memo, Carnival with Mambo Combo | 7 p.m. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-977-8838. DETAILS: More pre-Carnival fun: Mambo Combo, a popular Cincinnati instrumental sextet frequently seen at clubs around the area, specializes in Latin American rhythms and dances. This program focuses on Carnival-season music from Cuba, Puerto Rico and other lands.

Cincinnati World Cinema, “Hundreds of Beavers” | 7 p.m. Garfield Theatre, 719 Race St., downtown. 859-957-3456. DETAILS: You just can’t make this stuff up, not with a straight face anyway: This surreal 2023 cinematic “supernatural winter epic,” about a drunken applejack salesman who becomes the continent’s greatest fur trapper by defeating (yes, they’re on the rampage) hundreds of beavers, has already become a festival-hit, award-winning cult classic. This exclusive, one-night screening will include guest appearances by the film’s cast and crew. But will hordes of crazed beavers swarm the Garfield? Gnaw, I don’t think so, but dam, that would be fun to watch.

Tuesday, Feb. 6

Faculty Artist Series, violinist Kurt Sassmannshaus | 7:30 p.m. Werner Recital Hall, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. 513-556-4183. DETAILS: Kurt Sassmannshaus is known worldwide as one of the top violin pedagogues of our time. He’s a Cincinnati musical treasure, holder of the Starling Chair at CCM and successor to the late Dorothy DeLay. Here’s a chance to hear Sassmannshaus in a classy recital program: Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata and Claude Debussy’s Sonata with CCM pianist Dror Biran, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Duo in G Major with violist Jan Grüning, and encore pieces by the great Fritz Kreisler. Admission is free.

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