With autumn and the new school year started, the concerts start, too! This isn’t a blog about the performing arts, but since I do try to say point out the great things about life in Central Missouri, I want to tell you about some of the cultural events I think you would like. So no, I’m not including any mention of the upcoming "cage fights!!!" at the Truman Hotel (gag!).
Note: I’m specifically focusing on high-falutin’ stuff, but I want to remind my non-high-falutin’ readers that experiencing edu-ma-cated, even challenging performances—live—is a key to “understanding” it. Opera, modern classical music, choral music, and wailin’ sax solos can sometimes be hard to “get into” if you’re listening to a recording, but they’re much different live!
Plus, if you read the program, or do a bit of reading online, you’ll understand it all better. And you know that with everything, appreciation (and enjoyment) comes from understanding!
And who doesn’t like to go out on the town and have a brilliant evening every once in a while? I’m mostly picking out egg-headed, grown-up stuff here.
Here are my picks of several local concert seasons, through the end of this year.
The Duck Variations (dramatic theatre), 7:30 pm, Oct. 5-7, Cafe Berlin, Columbia, Mo. A forty-five-minute, one-act play written by David Mamet about two old gentlemen who meet regularly on a park bench and chat.
A Piece of My Heart (dramatic theatre), 7:30 pm Oct. 3-6, Stephens College Warehouse Theatre. “The true stories of five brave women sent to Vietnam and their struggle to make sense of a war that irrevocably changed them and a nation that ignored them. The work, with the music and soul of a turbulent era of our past, follows five women—two nurses, a Red Cross worker, a USO entertainer and an officer—before, during and after their tours in war-torn Vietnam. A gripping story that ends as each woman leaves a personal memento at the memorial wall in Washington.”
No No Nanette (1925 musical), Oct. 3-7, MU Rhynsburger Theatre, Columbia. A “new old-fashioned musical” from 1925 that celebrates the Broadway of yesteryear. Includes famous flapper-era songs like “Tea for Two” and “I Want to Be Happy.”
Columbia Civic Orchestra with Ayako Tsuruta, piano, and Columbia College’s Jane Froman Singers, Oct. 6, 8 pm, Broadway Christian Church, Columbia. The all-Beethoven program includes the Coriolan Overture and the Choral Fantasy.
Billy Childs Quartet, Oct. 7, Murry’s restaurant in Columbia (We Always Swing Jazz Series): Two shows: Show 1 at 3:30 pm (doors at 2:30); Show 2 at 7 pm (doors at 6:00). Insightful, tasteful, creative jazz that will reward you richly for paying attention. The quartet is an awesome group of masters: Childs (piano), Steve Wilson (sax and lots more!), Scott Colley (bass; he’s played with Herbie Hancock), and Brian Blade (drums; he is awesome and has played with everyone—from Emmylou Harris to Wayne Shorter). All-stars! And at Murry’s, you’ll be right next to them!
“A Chunk of Monk,” Kenny Barron Quartet, Oct. 17, 7 pm, Missouri Theatre, Columbia (We Always Swing Jazz Series). This is the final concert of three days of incredibly interesting events celebrating what would have been jazz pianist/composer Thelonious Monk’s 94th birthday. On Oct. 15, the Ragtag is playing Straight, No Chaser (a documentary about Monk); on Oct. 16, there’s a masterclass with pianist Barron and then a panel discussion on Monk with Barron, Robin Kelley (Monk biographer) and Gerald Early (Washington University scholar who specializes in jazz history). If you don’t know who Thelonius Monk is, you’re missing a great American original, and it’s time for a crash course! (Yes, you will enjoy this music!) (Barron’s quartet, by the way, is piano, tenor sax, bass, and drums. Want a sample? Go to the We Always Swing website!)
Matt Haimovitz, cellist, Oct. 18, 7 pm, Jesse Aud., Columbia (Univ. Concert Series). Why should you go to this concert? Because the cello is a beautiful, eloquent instrument and people should hear more of it. Also because he’ll be playing from the gorgeous, lyrical Bach cello suites.
Medea (dramatic theatre), Oct. 18-20 and 25-28, MU Corner Playhouse, Columbia. “The tale of what came after Medea helped Jason win the Golden Fleece has shocked and moved audiences for thousands of years. This renewed version presents the ancient tale of betrayal and revenge, challenging our perceptions of the role of women, mothers, and outsiders.”
Crimes of the Heart (dramatic theatre), 7:30 p.m., 8 shows: Oct. 18-21, 25-28, Cafe Berlin, Columbia, Mo. “The scene is Hazlehurst, Mississippi, where the three Magrath sisters have gathered to await news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital. Each of the sisters has her own story, and as the stories come together, the telling is so true and touching and consistently hilarious that it will linger in the mind long after the lights have dimmed.” Art is good when you feel like discussing it afterward!
Eighth Blackbird, new-music chamber ensemble, Oct. 19, 7 pm, Jesse Aud., Columbia (Univ. Concert Series). You probably had no idea that “honk, squeak, and toot” music could be so much fun! Okay, maybe it’s not for everybody, but you’d be surprised how engaging this stuff is when you witness it performed. (It’s kinda like a rock concert!)
Picnic, by William Inge (dramatic theatre), 7:30 pm Oct. 19-20, 26-27; 2 pm Oct. 21, Stephens College Playhouse Theatre. “It should be a relaxing Labor Day weekend, but when handsome stranger Hal Carter comes to the neighborhood picnic, things quickly grow complicated. Winner of the New York Drama Critic Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize, Picnic is a sweet, memorable—and important—true American classic by one of our country’s most beloved playwrights.”
Terell Stafford Quintet, Nov. 4, Murry’s restaurant in Columbia (We Always Swing Jazz Series): Two shows: Show 1 at 3:30 pm (doors at 2:30); Show 2 at 7 pm (doors at 6:00). “Aggressive yet precise”; “combustible but controlled”—this is what a great trumpeter should be! The quintet includes Stafford, plus sax, piano, bass, and drums. This show focuses on the works of Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s longtime collaborator. Samples online on We Always Swing’s site.
Causa Mortis (dramatic theatre), 7:30 pm Nov. 7-10, Stephens College Warehouse Theatre. “A dark comedy full of quirky characters is making its collegiate premiere at the Warehouse! Despite her two daughters’ insistence, Eleanor refuses surgery to remove a possibly life-threatening wristwatch that was left in her skull decades earlier during a brain surgery—not because she is afraid, rather because every surgeon that has tried to remove it has died in the process. Set in the neurology ward of an American hospital, a suicidal amnesiac joins Eleanor and her daughters in hilariously tormenting an incompetent medical student who can’t catch a break. When backdoor deals are hashed, the stakes of this quick-paced comedy will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, Nov. 8-11, 13-15, MU Rhynsburger Theatre, Columbia. “Memory casts shifting rainbows over Tennessee Williams’s semi-autobiographical tale. A young poet longing to escape feels trapped by the need to support his nagging mother and shy sister, fragile as her glass animals. An American classic.”
Columbia Civic Orchestra, with Amy Appold, violin, Nov. 11, 7 pm, Missouri Theatre, Columbia. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”), and the Sibelius Violin Concerto. These are truly great works, and they will lift your spirits!
MU Choral Union with the University Philharmonic: Haydn’s “Lord Nelson” Mass, Nov. 15, 7 pm, Jesse Aud., Columbia (Univ. Concert Series). This is perhaps “Haydn’s greatest single composition,” and this “mass for troubled times” will undoubtedly blow your hair back! It starts in a minor key but ends in a major key, and a “Dona nobis pacem”—“grant us peace.”
The Dining Room, 7:30 p.m., 8 shows: Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, Dec. 6-9, Cafe Berlin, Columbia, Mo. “The play is set in the dining room of a typical well-to-do household, the place where the family assembled daily for breakfast and dinner and for any and all special occasions. The action is comprised of a mosaic of interrelated scenes—some funny, some touching, some rueful.”
Marcus Roberts Trio, Dec. 2, Murry’s restaurant in Columbia (We Always Swing Jazz Series): Two shows: Show 1 at 3:30 pm (doors at 2:30); Show 2 at 7 pm (doors at 6:00). Marcus Roberts, piano; Rodney Jordan, bass; Jason Marsalis, drums. This will be thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable, folks! Roberts says: “I never plan to stop studying and sharing in the creation of great music. When I play, I play for the people. Jazz is not elitist. It was created and grew from the soil of our fertile and, at times, difficult American experience, and it will resonate as long as our democratic structure exists.” Amen!
This is basically the stuff I would love to go to personally, so it reflects my tastes. I’m not a critic or professional promoter, so if I’ve left out something you think should be included, then start your own blog!
I am not including anything that isn’t live, but there are of course lots of great films, and that Live at the Met series, and stuff like that, which I encourage you to enjoy.
I’ve done my best here to type everything correctly, but I suggest you double-check info for all performances. Hey, sometimes stuff gets cancelled, even. So don’t rely only on me.
Note that I’m omitting “holiday” programs, but most of these series do have special Christmas concerts. Go to their websites to find them!