Culture FIX: March 20-26

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the culture is. Well, it’s all around us this week – and with the start of the season, we celebrate everything from a noble gas to music for European aristocrats to the Sport of Kings. Read on …

Wednesday, March 20

The Rhinegeist taproom in Over-the-Rhine

Beer for Humans Pint Night, Visionaries + Voices | 5 p.m. Rhinegeist Brewery, Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-1367. DETAILS: Every month, Rhinegeist picks four local nonprofits to feature at its Pint Nights. This week, it’s Visionaries + Voices, an arts group that works to give artists with disabilities the chance to flourish. How Pint Night works: With each pint of brew you buy, you get a token that you can put in a drop box – along with a monetary donation, if you want – for the month’s charity of your choice. At month’s end, each group gets a donation based on the number of tokens they receive, plus a bonus for the top charity. Great deal. And there’s beer, too …

Thursday, March 21

Classic neon signs at the American Sign Museum

American Sign Museum, “It’s a Gas: Neon’s Early History in America” | 7 p.m. 1330 Monmouth Ave., Camp Washington. 513-541-6366. DETAILS: This special event is right up the Sign Museum’s alley: the story of how the element neon – and its glowing potential – was discovered, and how its use in lighting tubes ushered in a classic era of American advertising. The museum, of course, has plenty of authentic examples of how neon (and other inert gases for different colors) became the signage of choice. The program is both in-person and virtual. Free for museum members, $15 for non-members.

Roger Ross Williams

FotoFocus Spring Lecture, filmmaker Roger Ross Williams | 6 p.m. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, The Banks. downtown. 513-400-4027. DETAILS: Roger Ross Williams, the first African-American director to win an Oscar (for his film “Music by Prudence”), gives a visiting-artist lecture for the local organization focused on lens-based art. Williams, who also has won Emmy and Peabody awards for his work, explores personal, social and political issues in documentary work. His “The 1619 Project,” which premiered in 2023 on Hulu, won an Emmy. Williams also participated in FotoFocus’ Lens Mix conversation series in 2020.

Brad Mehldau

Jazz at the Memo, pianist Brad Mehldau | 8 p.m. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-977-8838. DETAILS: Called “the most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years” by the New York Times, Brad Mehldau certainly has added plenty to the art, blending classical and pop elements deftly into his unique jazz style. His work embraces everything from George Gershwin to Radiohead, and he’s even written song cycles for classical artists such as Renée Fleming. Mehldau’s appearance in Cincinnati is a collaboration between Jazz Vivace and Memorial Hall.

Friday, March 22

Cincinnati HorrorHound Weekend | 5 p.m. Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville. 513-771-7744. DETAILS: Are we frightened yet? HorrorHound celebrates its 15th anniversary in Cincinnati with its biggest weekend yet, with a long lineup of horror-cinema celebrities featuring the famous Raimi brothers – director Sam, actor Ted and screenwriter-physician Ivan. The event features Q&A sessions, photo-ops, screenings, a costume contest and plenty of merchandising. Through March 24.

The Arts Center at Dunham

Queen City Productions, “Rent” | 8 p.m. Arts Center at Dunham, 1945 Dunham Way, Price Hill. 513-922-4420. DETAILS: This nonprofit community theater group, based in the Arts Center at Dunham, presents the famed 1996 musical “Rent,” with a plot, cast of characters and music based on the letter and spirit of Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera “La Bohème” QCP has two full, alternating casts portraying the musical’s group of friends struggling to make it in the city that never sleeps. Through March 30.

Saturday, March 23

Pianist Pavel Kolesnikov

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, “Heroic Strauss & Melodic Mozart” | 7:30 p.m. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: What can you say about a composer who writes an autobiographical tone poem titled “A Hero’s Life”? Richard Strauss’ self-referential 1898 “Ein Heldenleben” may be indulgent, befitting a composer who thought himself to be “no less interesting than Napoleon,” but it’s great music. It’s paired with Richard Wagner’s also heroic “Tannhäuser” Overture, plus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, whose third-movement theme was created by the composer’s pet starling. No joke! Maybe the concert should be titled “Auto-Heroic Strauss & Melodic Bird.” Sir Mark Elder is the CSO’s guest conductor, with pianist Pavel Kolesnikov in the Mozart concerto. Also March 24.

The Celtic Tenors

Dayton Philharmonic, “The Celtic Tenors” | 7:30 p.m. Schuster Center, 1 W. 2nd St., Dayton, Ohio. 937-228-3630. DETAILS: Meanwhile, up the road in Dayton, the orchestra features a trio of famous tenors – FitzDomingo, McPavarotti and O’Carreras, maybe? Actually, it’s three Irish tenors who have crafted an international career with a blend of classical music, Celtic tunes, pop songs and humor. Patrick Reynolds conducts the Dayton Philharmonic in this one-night-only show.

Robert Porco at Music Hall

May Festival, “Bob’s Big Sing: A May Festival Reunion” | Noon-5 p.m. Music Hall Ballroom, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-381-3300. DETAILS: What a terrific idea: The Cincinnati May Festival celebrates choral director Robert Porco’s birthday and his 35th year leading the May Festival Chorus with an Italian meal in the Music Hall Ballroom, followed by Porco leading a run-through of famous choral repertoire at 2 p.m. in Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium. All are welcome to this reunion, and you can expect plenty of current and former chorus members to join in. Tickets are $35 (for 35 years), and the Festival cautions that an FC Cincinnati game nearby that evening could affect parking and traffic in the area. No word on whether Porco will kit up and take to the pitch, however …

Sunday, March 24

Krista Cornish Scott and Brett Scott

Collegium Cincinnati, “A Lenten Prism” | 3 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral 314 E. 4th St., downtown. 513-428-BACH. DETAILS: Conductors Brett Scott and Krista Cornish Scott lead Collegium Cincinnati in a fascinating Passion-season program featuring some too-seldom-heard music by Heinrich Schütz, an early Baroque predecessor to Johann Sebastian Bach. His 1645 “Seven Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross” is an expressive masterpiece, and his 1636 “Musikalische Exequien,” a suite of funeral music written for a nobleman’s services, became a model more than two centuries later for the 1867 “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms, who owned a rare copy of Schütz’ score.

Eckart Preu

Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, “Coffeemusik” | 7 p.m. Fort Thomas Coffee, 1 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, KY 41075. 513-723-1182. DETAILS: Well, here’s a clever way to announce a new concert season. The Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra is conducting a “Coffeemusik” (or should it be “Kaffeemusik”?) chamber crawl and Summermusik 2024 reveal at Fort Thomas Coffee, where Music Director Eckart Preu and a Summermusik String Quartet will perform a varied program of light classics and announce the schedule and guest artists for this summer’s festival. A beverage is included in the $40 admission, and season subscriptions will be on sale, of course.

Monday, March 25

Sarah Folsom and Matthew Umphreys

Queen City Cabaret, “As Time Goes By: Love Songs of the ’40s and ’50s” | 7 p.m. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-977-8838. DETAILS: Singer Sarah Folsom and pianist Matthew Umphreys, who as QCC specialize in vintage pop and jazz, return to Memorial Hall with a program that hits the sweet spot: memorable songs from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and other American pop classics from the 1940s and ’50s.

Tuesday, March 26

Ariel Quartet
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Ariel Quartet, “Best of Brahms” | 7:30 p.m. Werner Recital Hall, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. 513-556-4183. DETAILS: It’s a slightly odd title for a concert, as the program includes only one work by Johannes Brahms, but indeed it’s one of his finest: the Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, beloved for its mellow, autumnal character. Clarinetist and CCM faculty member Pavel Vinnitsky joins the Ariel Quartet, CCM quartet-in-residence. The program also includes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quartet in F Major, Op. 59 No. 1, with its Russian folk-theme finale (the set of three Op. 59 quartets was commissioned by Count Andreas Razumovsky, the Russian ambassador to Vienna), and the Quartet No. 1 by Erwin Schulhoff, a gifted and popular Czech composer who died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. (EDITOR: The Schulhoff Quartet has now been deleted from this program.)

Cincinnati Jewish Music and Culture Festival, “Jews on Broadway Cabaret” | 7 & 9 p.m. Memorial Hall Ballroom, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. DETAILS: This program, subtitled “Journey to the Past: Songs & Stories from American Jewish Songbook,” is the last concert in the month-long Jewish Music and Culture Festival, and the festival is making it a gala finale. The 7 p.m. show (tickets $65) includes food and drinks, and the 9 p.m. show ($15) is program only. The cabaret-style show, created by Ian Axness, Rabbi Kenneth Kanter, Rachel Stevens and Brant Russell, will be performed by current and former students in CCM’s musical theater and acting departments.

Behringer-Crawford Museum, “Race to Fame: Hometown Kentucky Derby Legends” | (EDITOR: Opening delayed to Saturday, April 6.) Opens 10 a.m. Behringer-Crawford Museum, 1600 Montague Road, Covington. 859-491-4003. DETAILS: History in Motion, indeed: The Behringer-Crawford Museum has finished its winter spruce-up project and is introducing some new exhibits. Timed for the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby (May 4) is the new “Race to Fame” exhibit, which details the history of horse racing in our region, with an emphasis on the Derby itself and on “the remarkable tales of hometown heroes who have left an indelible mark on the sport.”

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