COVID protocols are making it possible to hold events at the Lyric Opera, Symphony Center and North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. So, when winter needs a mood changer, try Verdi, jazz, Debussy or Music of the Baroque.
“Verdi Voices” brings joins soprano Tamara Wilson and tenor Russell Thomas with conductor Enrique Mazzola and the Lyric Opera Orchestra to perform favorites from La Traviata, Aida, Otello and some less familiar arias and duets on Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For tickets and more information visit Verdi Voices or 2021|22 Season | Lyric Opera of Chicago.
From jazz and the CSO At the Movies (Casablanca) and from Prokofiev to Rachmaninov, there is a lot going on in different musical genres at the CSO”s Orchestra Hall in February, 2022. Check out the calendar at Symphony Center concert listings.
Music of the Baroque
“The Chevalier,” a concert drama about the first major Black classical composer, Joseph Bologne, (Chevalier de Saint-Georges), will be at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Written and directed by Bill Barclasy with music by Joseph Bologne, the concert drama was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2018. For tickets and mor information visit North Shore Center/event.
The year 2021 looked weird on the event calendar. Fun events and show openings were penciled in and then many were crossed out, erased or footnoted with wear a mask and bring the vax card.
It’s hard to predict if 2022 will be an echo but we can ruminate on these five annual happenings that may be experienced in person, on zoom, on TV or ordered and delivered.
Martin Luther King Jr Day
January is kind of quiet but the third weekend typically offers community service opportunities in honor and memory of Martin Luther King Jr. The official recognition day, a federal holiday, is Jan. 17. For more information visit MLK Day | AmeriCorps.
Chinese New Year
You have another chance to celebrate a new year. Food, dragon parades and most traditional observances start Feb. 1 in 2022 to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. They continue through Feb. 15 with the Lantern Festival. For more information visit Chinese New Year.
Groundhog Day If you want to know how many more weeks of winter are ahead, ask a groundhog. A long time European folklore tradition of predicting the weather by watching animal behavior, the practice moved to the Pennsylvania area where it became a full-blown celebration in Punxsutawney known as Groundhog Day; observed on Feb. 2. Translated into a popular romcom written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and directed by Ramis the movie was filmed in Woodstock, IL starring Bill Murray and Andie Macdowell. For Punxsutawaney info see Visit Punxsutawney. For the movie visit Groundhog Day 1993.
Super Bowl LVI
If traveling to southern California you need to know the Super Bowl and crowds will be hanging out Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium, the Rams and chargers home opened in fall of 2020. If watching on TV for the commercials and half time the show starts at 6:30 p.m. ET and is on NBC. Visit Super Bowl Sunday NFL.
Feb. 14, known by some cynics as a Hallmark celebration because of all the cards sent, the day is a chance to say thank you with flowers, candy and dinner out. Some historic notes say the day is really St. Valentine’s Day for a Christian martyr and other sources say it dates to the Roman holiday Lupercalia.. Either way, the day is a chance to express affection. Visit Valentine’s Day/History.
Ice skate amid van Gogh’s swirling colors. Down a mug of mulled wine or snack on a warm pretzel. Browse artisan goods. The holiday season is back with delightful choices for all ages.
Tis the season for millions of twinkling lights to transform paths from the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Morton Arboretum to Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos. But if looking for something different to do this year skate against a Chicago cityscape. Mask wearing is encouraged as well as social distancing.
Downtown Chicago area
Look below the “Bean” at Millennium Park at Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue where skaters move to music and can take lessons at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Skating is free and available now through March 6. To avoid overcrowding, reservation tickets are needed. Visit City of Chicago :: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink
Just east of the McCormick Rink is the quarter-mile Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon where visitors can skate a top of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” thanks to a partnership of the Chicago Park district and “Immersive Van Gogh.” Open now thru March 13, 2022, reservation tickets are needed. Admission with your own skates is free Monday through Thursday and $5 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Admission with skate rental is $16 Monday through Thursday and $20 Friday through Sunday and on holiday dates. Maggie Daley Park and Skating ribbon is at 337 E. Randolph St. Visit Gogh skating for more information and reservations. Maggie Daley Park
A bit further north and east (600 E. Grand Ave.), skaters will find indoor ice at Navy Pier’s Alpine Rink in Festival Hall. It’s part of the Pier’s Light Up the Lake Festival that features a beer garden and shopping through Jan. 2, 2022. https://navypier.org/
The Rink at Gallagher Way, a large community patch of lawn abutting the Chicago Cubs stadium, is frozen over for ice events such as bumper cars and curling but its main use during the annual Winterland at Gallagher Way is for ice skating and skate lessons now through Feb. 20, 2022.
Admission is free for skaters 12 years and younger and $6 for skaters 13 years and older. Visitors can bring skates or rent them there for $12. Bags can be checked for $2. For hours and more information visit Winterland at Gallagher Way
Parkway Bank Park, Rosemont’s fun entertainment district and the Chicago Wolves Ice Rink, hosts Skating in the Park now through Feb. 27,2022. Bring skates or rent them for $8. For hours and more information visit Parkway Bank Park – It’s all here in Rosemont
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone leaving holiday shoppers with time to search for something different for themselves and others.
To find interesting fashion and home décor items and yummy food, go to the Chicago Artisan Market at Fulton Market West Loop on Dec. 12. For more information and ticket reservations visit About – Chicago Artisan Market.
Chicago a cappella, a versatile, talented vocal ensemble of professional singers, is back doing concerts across the Chicago area. “Holidays a cappella,” a program of beautiful Christmas and Chanukah music, runs Dec. 3 through Dec. 12, 2021.
Founded in 1993, Chicago a cappella has a subscription series and does live and broadcast-media musical content plus educational outreach programming. The group gives performances on tour and in special engagements.
Check the following schedule for a concert near you:
Friday, December 3 (8 PM): St Josaphat Church, 2311 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
Saturday, December 4 (8 PM): Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Rd., Highland Park
Sunday, December 5 (4 PM): Community UMC, 20 Center St., Naperville
Friday, December 10 (8 PM): Fourth Presbyterian Church (Buchanan Chapel), 115 E. Delaware Pl., Chicago
Saturday, December 11 (8 PM): Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Sunday, December 12, (4 PM): Pilgrim Congregational, 460 Lake St., Oak Park
Both Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos have upped the sparkle wattage with new light experiences. But with LED lights keeping cost down and ComEd on board as a co-sponsor for both holiday shows, what the popular destinations mention are estimates. Just expect more than one million lights.
In suburban Brookfield, IL wander among twinkling lights at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic co-sponsored with ComEd by meijer.
The festival includes a new, two-mile Sea of Lights. But also take photos at a 41-foot-high magical tree and by an illuminated animal sculpture or as you approach the 600-foot Tunnel of Lights.
Just for fun, join in the Game of Gnomes to find 27 of these creatures at the zoo. Get a map of the zoo to help. All ages can play.
Zoo entry cost varies according to membership and age. As an example, rounded-off by five cents, a non-member senior 65 + may be about $20, an adult aged 12-64 is about $25 and a child age 3-11 is about $18. Skating rink usage is a $7 add on. Passes from a Chicago Library may discount the tickets. Parking may cost $15. Advance tickets needed.
Holiday Magic hours and dates: Friday through Sunday Nov. 26-28. Then Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 8-12 and Dec.15-19. They end Sunday through Friday. Dec. 26-31. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Animal residences stay open through 8:30 p.m.
Brookfield Zoo has two gates: 8400 31st St. and 3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield, IL
Zooights turned on its more than a million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo Nov. 19, 2021 and will keep them on during select nights through Jan. 2, 2022.
Explore a twisting path at the Light Maze where you wear a pair of 3D Holospex® glasses to up the glow. Also, every age is welcome at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo section’s Enchanted Forest of butterflies, flowers and mushrooms.
See the zoo’s holiday tree at the recently redone Pepper Family Wildlife Center and do the Endangered Species Carousel and the Lionel Train Adventure through a sculpture garden and past whimsical animals.
Zoolioght entry is $5, free on Monday and Tuesday but there are additional charges of $3 per person at some of the sections and experiences. Advance tickets needed. Check the calendar for more program information.
The basic fee and extra charges help support the zoo’s animal care, global conservation efforts, and learning programs.
It may be hard to believe we’re in the midst of the holiday season, already!
The Chicago Botanic Garden opened its paths at night for Lightscape. Santa is already listening to wishes at Macy’s where the famed holiday windows are ready for their close-ups. And, Christmas Around the world and Holiday of Light opens at the Museum of Science and Industry on its free day, Nov. 17, 2021.
But don’t miss the BMO Lights Festival – The Magnificent Mile this Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. Folks line up two and three deep to watch lights go on as the parade moves south on Michigan Avenue from Oak Street to the Chicago River and ends with fun fireworks.
A great place to view the action would be Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave. You need to know, however, that the DuSable Bridge (formerly Michigan Avenue Bridge) closes at 3:30 p.m. But there are activities and food (smell Garrett’s? (It’s at 625 N. Michigan Ave.) along the Mile.
If you go downtown Friday, see the tree lighting at at Wrigley Building Centennial Plaza, 410 N. Michigan Ave. 4 p.m.
Many admirers of the art of photography are familiar with Ansel Adams’ remarkable shots of the US western landscape taken in the 1970s. Arguably less known or viewed in an exhibition are Adams’ prints from the 1920 through the 1950s.
Now, “Ansel Adams: Early Works” a traveling exhibit organized by art2artCirculating Exhibitions, LLC, and sponsored at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum by the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Preservation Foundation and Dan and Shirley Mayworm, opens a portal to the famed photographer’s interests, artistic development and his thoughts on his objectives. The works are from the collection of Michael Matts and Judith Hockberg.
Wander through the Dunn Museum, worth a trip on its own for its early Illinois history and objects, to see “Moonrise” which proved, as a video in the exhibit explains, that some, great photography moments are unplanned.
Read the plaques that accompany the exhibit for insight into some of Adams’ observations of photography’s power. Going through the exhibit then retracing ones steps brings out changes in his artistic and unique view of nature.
One plaque reads: “When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
The show’s prints are part of Adams’ photo output. But to better understand the photographer don’t miss the plaques next to some of the photos. This one is next to Mount Brewer, Circa 1925, a vintage gelatin silver print.
“When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
Another plaque says that trees are not just trees. Look for a photo where the forest looks lacy then look for “Aspens” that is a study in design and contrast.
Dan Mayworm who worked with Adams for a few weeks includes some pointers in the exhibit that he gleaned from Adams including “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”
Macy’s announced it should have its State Street holiday windows ready for oohs and aahs by Nov. 6 when it will also have Santa in his workshop ready to hear what youngsters want.
Santa visits are on the store’s fifth Floor by reservation Nov. 6 through Dec. 24, 2021. The 2021 holiday window theme introduces belief in ones self with a blue reindeer named Tiptoe who is too shy to fly with Santa.. Follow “Tiptoe and the Flying Machine” story in each window and see the reindeer as a balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
For youngsters who can’t visit Santa in person, there is an interactive online journey available starting Nov. 26, 2021.. Macy’s on State is at 111 N. State Street, Chicago.
The Great Tree in Macy’s on State Walnut Room will also be back this weekend. To see it make a seating reservation Nov 6, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022.
Then, note the free days and what’s going on at the Museum of Science and Industry.
MSI entrance (not special ticketed films and labs) are free to Illinois residents on Nov. 10 and 17 and Dec. 8 in 2021. Which means that opening day for MSI’s annual Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lightexhibits is the free-day of Nov. 17.
See more than 50 trees and displays from around the world and the four-story Grand Tree . Also look for Take Flight and Pioneer Zepher, two popular exhibits that have been updated.
For more information, prices, hours and reserved entry ticket visit www.msichicago.org. The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.
Marie and her Nutcraker Prince journey through Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair in Christoper Wheeldon’s reimagined classic. The show runs Dec. 4 through Dec. 26, 2021. For tickets and more information visit Performances | Joffrey Ballet. The Lyric Opera House is at 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago.
Larry Yando once again takes audiences on Ebenezer Scrooge’s path from the character who defined the meaning of scrooge to his change into a generous and kind person.
Last year, the 2020 show experience was audio. This year, the production will be back at Goodman Theatre Nov. 20 through Dec. 31, 2021. Adopted by Tom Creamer, and directed by Jessica Thebus, the show marks its 44th production.
A new path, new installations but also some old favorites including Cathedral and Singing Trees will be at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s 2021 edition of Lightscape. , a popular holiday event that sold out last year.
A popular holiday event that sold out last year, Lightscape runs Nov. 12, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. For tickets and more information visit Lightscape.(Nonmembers also need parking.) Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe.
The Morton Arboretum turns the light, color, actions on its trees at Illumination, Nov. 20, 2021 through Jan 2, 2022. New will be a Human Nature display and colorful lanterns. The mile-long path features a roast marshmallow stop for s’mores.
For tickets and more information visit Morton Arboretum. Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Rt. 53, Lisle.
ED Note: When getting tickets note that proof of full vax needed for 12 and older and recent negative test under 12 for indoor shows: Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. Also check requirements for outdoor shows: Lightscape and Illumination when buying tickets.
Reviewer Reno Lovison picks two more shows currently offered by the Chicago International Film Festival worthy of three star ratings. They are either based in Chicago or have Chicago themes or subjects.
The films have limited in-person options but can be viewed virtually October 14 through October 24, 2021. Check back at CTAA for more International Film Fest reviews. For specific information visit ChicagoFilmFestival.com.
On the Edge of Victory
How soon we forget. This intimate behind the scenes documentary “Mayor Pete,” follows his bootstrap campaign for the presidency from its nascent beginnings to the edge of victory.
Sure Pete Buttigieg, (pronounced boot-edge-edge) mayor of a small Midwestern city, speaks eight languages, is a Rhode Scholar and retired lieutenant in the Navy Reserves who served in Afghanistan; but that didn’t stop this over achiever from being the first openly gay presidential candidate, with an odd name, from soaring from unknown candidate to winner of the Iowa caucuses, primarily by being extremely intelligent and being his authentic self.
Like many documentaries, “Mayor Pete” by Jesse Moss simply follows the action. Since it starts at the beginning of the campaign the filmmaker has no idea how it will end. Very often in these situations you know you have an interesting subject but you don’t really know what the story will be.
In this case you have someone who many might consider a nontraditional candidate with a same-sex partner running for the highest office in the land. But the mundaneness of his relationship with husband Chasten and the “regular guy” laid back attitude of Pete himself kinda shouts, “There’s nothing to see here folks,” illustrating that those who we might consider as being “other” really have more in common with us than our perceived differences suggest.
“Mayor Pete,” will certainly appeal to political wonks and historians, though it doesn’t really offer much strategic insight other than some interesting preparation for his debates and appearances. At its core it is an inspirational story of authenticity, personal growth, love and victory; even if that victory is not exactly what you had expected.
The small city of Metropolis sits on the southern-most border of Illinois and is best known for its self-described claim to fame as being the “birthplace” of the fictional comic book hero Superman. However the town’s real life native son is author and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux.
Oscar was born in 1884 to former slaves Calvin and Belle Michaux who travelled out of Kentucky over the Ohio River establishing a homestead where the boy spent his early years farming. Eventually he made his way to Chicago getting a very prestigious job as a Pullman porter. This experience no doubt contributed to a wider understanding of the world and introduced him to a more diverse social strata.
Within a short period of time Micheaux was able to obtain a small piece of land in South Dakota. However the harsh winters put his mind to other interests and after a few years he wrote a book about his life experiences and escapades that he self-published then sold door-to-door apparently rather successfully within Black communities.
After gaining some notoriety Micheaux turned down an offer to make one of his stories into a moving picture. Instead in 1919 he opted to buy some equipment, gather some people and do it himself, putting him on the road that would ultimately establish him as the first major Black filmmaker, going on to produce 42 feature films.
Micheaux’s filmmaking business brought him to Harlem, the undisputed Black Capitol of segregated America, at the very dawn of what would become known as the Harlem Renaissance no doubt putting him in contact with some of the most notable cultural icons of that era. Micheaux is in fact credited with hiring Paul Robeson before the actor became an international superstar.
It seems that aside from promoting his own written works Micheaux had a desire to use his early silent films and later talkies to project a more wholesome and authentic view of African-American life presumably to counteract the negative stereotypes that were being portrayed in White cinema, most notably in films like D.W. Griffith’s (1915) “Birth of a Nation.”
At least from my perspective Micheaux’s story is as much about his entrepreneurial spirit as it is about his filmmaking. Not only did he write and produce film but often appeared in small roles and set up his own distribution scheme to insure that his films would be screened and seen in African American communities nationwide. It seems he was one of those people who was going to create a place for himself in this world somehow.
“Oscar Micheaux – The Superhero of Black Cinema” had its North American premiere as part of the 2021 Chicago International Film Festival. Directed by Francesco Zippel, it is a sort of meandering biographical documentary that gets this important story told through a number of expert interviews and original film clips.
The importance of this documentary is perhaps to illustrate to younger generations that in the early nineteen hundreds there were a number of African American entrepreneurs who stepped in to fill a void created by segregation.
They operated their professions and crafts parallel to the more influential white power structure by exploiting opportunities to serve a market that was otherwise being neglected.
As a result of America’s unofficial apartheid system these early industrial pioneers rarely were recognized by the wider society for the contributions they made.
“Oscar Micheaux -The Superhero of Black Film Making” is a useful contribution to the library of Black History subjects placing Micheaux into the pantheon of individuals who contributed to the rise of twentieth century African American culture and ultimately, in a more “woke” sense, to the fabric of American culture as a whole.