Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. Celebrating in Chicago
Winter is here; the ground is frozen, we’ve had snowfall, and it’s cold and windy in the Windy City. To add to the gloom of the dreary weather and short hours of daylight, the month always starts on a sad note as we take time on Wednesday, December 7th, to remember Pearl Harbor Day, when America experienced the sunrise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy that brought America officially into World War II. Let’s take a few moments to remember the sacrifices that our armed forces made in that war and the wars that have followed. Let us also remember the equally brave sacrifices being made today by the courageous soldiers in Ukraine. Tyranny will always rear its ugly head and it must always be defeated.
Let’s cheer up today, Friday, December 9th, with a visit to the Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago, 10 W. Germania Place, to experience for ourselves The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle, https://www.immersive-nutcracker.com/chicago, Bring the whole family, absolutely. This show is a wonderfully amazing event: 500,000 cubic feet of holiday wonder have been created for us to enjoy. It surrounds us with Tchaikovsky’s music, enthralling our senses with beautiful, flowing, and fully immersive projections. The special effects are “magical”, and the kids can even meet a life-sized Nutcracker! This will be a truly special holiday event, and especially child centered, so get tickets immediately, take the afternoon off, and arrive on time for the 2:30pm show.
Isn’t this just fabulous? I love the immersive experience and this one is the best yet, don’t you think? Look at the way the animation moves across the walls and even the floors and ceilings. Look, there is even a life-sized Nutcracker for the kids to meet and enjoy. These special effects are just spectacular, aren’t they? Look at the way the mouse king crashes through the wall! And the “carousel” for the kids is a great touch too; it’s quite magical, even to me. WOW, this has been wonderful fun, a real treat. Remember, tomorrow is for grownups!
Tonight, Saturday, December 10th let’s have our adult fun, shall we? Let’s head out to the McAnich Arts Center, (The MAC), https://www.atthemac.org/, at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd. Glen Ellyn, for the 5pm show (there’s another at 8pm): The Second City: “Jingle Bell Ruckus”. This show promises an evening of satire and comedy wherein nothing is off limits; all the nostalgic holiday movies, our favorite old Christmas carols, and, of course, the family gatherings are all getting skewered, and even Rudolph gets a wicked holiday slant. In true Second City style, we’ll be asked to participate, it’s an “interactive comedy revue” after all.
Go ahead, stick your hand up, you know you want to. Oh, darn, they didn’t pick you. That’s OK, this show is totally Second City, mostly improv comedy, and skits filled with satire, wit, and even physical comedy. I can’t stop laughing, this is amazing. Thanks for joining us.
This is an event filled weekend for tonight, Sunday, December 11th, we’re back at the MAC, for the 7pm concert by Voctave, an a capella group of eleven singers who “light up the holiday season with their incredible a capella harmony and a program filled with holiday favorites including “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells of Notre Dame” and more.
Don’t you just love a capella singing? The holiday tunes just lend themselves to people who sing joyously without instruments, don’t you think? Aren’t these folks just so talented, with such powerful, melodic voices? No wonder they are all well recognized singers. Wow, such joy, and exuberance, with a complete range of voices through every octave. I’m almost speechless! How about you?
It’s always time for good music, especially during the hectic rush of the holidays, so let’s each take a deep breath, relax a little, and at 8 pm tonight, Thursday, Dec. 15, listen to the “Holiday Brass & Choral Concert”, performed by Music of the Baroque, https://www.baroque.org/, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest, https://graceriverforest.org/.
In his first conducting appearance since being named Music of the Baroque’s chorus director, Andrew Megill returns to conduct a mix of joyful carols, solemn chant, and jubilant works for brass from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. This is a gentler concert, don’t you think? It’s a joyful rendition of music that demonstrates the variety of instruments and vocal styles from those pre-electric times.
The holidays are not complete without seeing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” ballet at least once. So today Saturday, December 17th, it’s back to The MAC to see a traditional, full-scale production performed by Salt Creek Ballet. This magical, production includes more than 50 dancers including guest artists and younger dancers. The best part is the New Philharmonic playing the score live; it’s not often that this most well-known and magnificent ballet is performed to live music.
This is a totally different experience from the Immersive Nutcracker, isn’t it? It’s a different kind of magic and I’m so glad we’re here together.
Yes, we all block out a little time during the holidays to watch an old, classic, Christmas movie. This year, let’s all do it together and see one on the “big screen” of an actual theater. So bring the kids (They will get in for free!) and meet us today, Tuesday, December 20th, at the Des Plaines Theatre, 1476 Miner St, Des Plaines, https://desplainestheatre.com, for “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
We all know the story of George Bailey, the goodhearted president of the Bedford Falls Building and Loan who thinks he has so many problems that his best solution is ending it all – and it’s Christmas! When George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence, who makes his wish, “I wish I’d never been born” come true and then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years. We’ve seen this a dozen times, of course, but never in a theater and the big screen is a great upgrade from our TV’s, isn’t it?
The doors open at 5:30pm, so let’s get there a little bit early, so we can chat while we wait. I can’t believe I’m this excited to see this movie we all know so well. Shh, it’s about to start.
Yes, it’s wonderful. Did you know that it was a flop when first released? Late in their careers, both the leading man, James Stewart, and the director, Frank Capra, said it was one of the favorite movies they ever did. It wasn’t until much later that it became recognized as a cultural treasure and one of the greatest movies ever made. Every time, this movie gets you every single time, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Thanks so much for being with us.
There are so many fabulous things to do this week, but, hey, we’ve got to take some time to get ready for Christmas. Get your shopping and cooking and baking done so you’re ready when the guests arrive. We’ll talk during the week, but, really, focus!
It’s Saturday, December 24th, already, and today is Christmas Eve. We’re hosting today, and the relatives are hosting tomorrow. A big capon is in the oven (rather than an oversized turkey) and all the trappings are cooking nicely. We even got the house completely cleaned, how did that happen? The tree is decorated, there are a few presents scattered about, while the little Dickens style Christmas Village encircles the tree.
With family gathered together it’s time to pray, grateful for our blessings, hopeful for the future, and thankful for our health and happiness. Tomorrow, we will do it again at the cousin’s home. Enjoy, friends.
Today, Sunday, December 25th, is Christmas Day, and in our extended family it’s all about the kids. They are running around gleefully, dressed up in new clothes, playing with new toys and enjoying the day immensely. We are too, of course, in our adult way, giving thanks and prayers again for the truly good things we have, the love of family and the warmth and encouragement of good friends. May God bless you and your friends and families, today and always.
Do you believe that the year is almost over? It’s Saturday, December 31st, New Year’s Eve and time to usher in the new year. (Already? Where did the year go?) Rather than spend the evening at a giant public party, waiting for the ball to drop, we’re hoping you’ll join us, once again, at The MAC in Glen Ellyn, for an earlier celebration than usual. We’re heading to the 5:00pm concert (they are also playing at 1:30pm and 8:30pm), and hope to see you there.
The New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt are poised to ring in the New Year, celebrating with a program from two musical worlds, Pops and Viennese. We’ll enjoy a champagne toast and perhaps a few nibbles of finger food. Mischa Bouvier is the guest singer, who has been hailed by Opera News for his “soothing, cavernous baritone that can soar to heights of lyric beauty.” We’ll also be listening to members of the pop/rock violin ensemble, The CoverGirls.
Look at that beautiful stage, and isn’t this wonderful music? This is our kind of NYE celebration, sophisticated, entertaining, and high energy, but a bit easier on the ears. Isn’t this fun, in a more relaxed fashion? Much better, I think, than the crush and noise of a bar party somewhere. No, we’re not going out afterwards, we’re heading home to finish our celebration in private.
Today, Sunday, January 1st, of course, is New Year’s Day, and we’re exhausted. We’ll spend the day at home, cleaning up messes, watching football, eating leftovers and taking naps. Please don’t stop by or even call. Thank God we’re off work tomorrow.
As we seem to do every month, and every year, we’ve taken our adventures right through the end and into the beginning of whatever lies ahead. So, in this new year, especially, let us pray for peace and work for justice. Happy New Year, dear friends and readers, Happy New Year!