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What’s happening in the arts world

Yo-Yo Ma (center, at last year's Christmas Revels) will be the special guest at Christmas Revels 2020.Hamish Swanson/Courtesy of Revels


Rock & Pop

LORI MCKENNA Stoughton’s Grammy-winning songwriter performs with a full band in a livestream from the Club Passim stage, where she cut her teeth as a young musician. Dec. 18, 7 p.m. www.passim.org

CHAD STOKES AND THE PINTOS The Dispatch frontman takes to the Internet for a show to benefit Calling All Crows, the service organization cofounded by Stokes and his partner and tour manager Sybil Urmston. The day also includes an online service project and teach-in in partnership with Riot RI, and pre and post-show hangouts. Dec. 19. noonchorus.com/calling-all-crows

YO LA TENGO HANUKKAH CONCERT In past years, the band has taken over a venue for eight wild nights of crowded stages, deep cuts, and many special guests; this year brings the band to WQXR’s Greene Space for a three-hour bonanza that promises surprise opening acts (both musical and comedy) and plenty of vintage Yo La Tengo favorites. Proceeds to charity. Dec. 18, 8 p.m. www.thegreenespace.org




BEETHOVEN’S COMPLETE PIANO MUSIC According to pianist Bruce Brubaker, who chairs the piano department at New England Conservatory, the school is the only institution across the globe to survey all of Beethoven’s piano music during the composer’s 250th birthday year. Approximately 75 conservatory piano students have participated, traversing this vast literature over the course of 12 recital programs. The last of the 12 took place this Tuesday, but you can find them ready for streaming on the school’s YouTube channel. The entire cycle is dedicated to Boston keyboard luminary Russell Sherman, in his 90th birthday year. www.youtube.com/neconservatory

CONCORD SONATA AT 100 This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Ives’s extraordinary “Concord Sonata,” and pianist Donald Berman, president of the Charles Ives Society, has honored the occasion with a richly layered tribute to Ives’s sprawling masterpiece. Performing eloquently from the historic stage of Worcester’s Mechanics Hall, Berman intersperses the work’s portraits of New England Transcendentalists with newly commissioned, thematically linked works by David Sanford (“Underground”) and Marti Epstein (“The Piano in the Palace Beautiful”). Entitled “Other Transcendentalists,” the full recital program may be accessed from charlesives.org





THE CHRISTMAS REVELS 2020 Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the special guest for this year’s “Revels,” written and directed by Patrick Swanson, with musical direction by George Emlen. It will be the first time in 50 years that the show will not be performed live in Sanders Theatre. In response, Swanson has devised a story in which the marble statues of James Otis (played by Paula Plum) and Josiah Quincy (Richard Snee, Plum’s husband) that stand on either side of the Sanders stage come to life and recount their memories of the songs, dances, and rituals they have heard and witnessed over the years. Subtitled “A 50th Anniversary Virtual Celebration,” this year’s “Revels” will also feature performances drawn from the archives. Passes are $50/household for unlimited VOD access from Dec. 18-31. On sale at www.christmasrevels2020.org

A CHRISTMAS CAROL Did you really think a pandemic was going to stop this chestnut from making its annual appearance? Well, think again. As part of the “Stage Windows” component of the “Downtown Holiday Magic” project, a Commonwealth Shakespeare Company video display narrated by Will Lyman and directed by Steven Maler will be presented in the late afternoon every day at the 467 Washington St. storefront window through Jan. 31. Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company will begin streaming a free digital production of “A Christmas Carol” at noon on Dec. 17. Directed by Curt Columbus and featuring Trinity Rep stalwart Joe Wilson Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge, it will be available on demand through Jan. 10. Details and registration at 401-351-4242 or www.trinityrep.com/carol


BLACK NATIVITY: 50 YEARS OF TRIUMPH AND TRANSITION A retelling of the Christmas story via a “gospel song-play” by the great Langston Hughes, “Black Nativity” has long been a beloved holiday tradition in Boston. This year, in place of the traditional live production by the National Center of Afro-American Artists, there will be a premiere of an online documentary, presented as part of a virtual gala and auction, about that production’s remarkable history. Along with interviews with some of the artists involved in the production, the documentary will explore the legacy of the legendary arts educator Elma Lewis, founder of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts and the National Center of Afro-American Artists, as well as John Andrew Ross, the composer and choral conductor who served as music director of “Black Nativity.” Produced by ArtsEmerson, “Black Nativity: 50 Years of Triumph and Transition” will be presented on Dec. 18, and will be available on demand after that date. www.blacknativity50.org



FUNNY UNCLE CABARET & NUT/CRACKED This annual production by Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion and The Bang Group is coming to a computer or phone screen near you, and it offers a quirkily skewed, sometimes surprisingly touching take on the holiday season. “Funny Uncle Cabaret” celebrates the families we create for ourselves, and “Nut/Cracked” is just as daffy and delicious as the title implies. Content will be a mix of pre-recorded and live. Dec. 20, 3-4:30 p.m., streaming live via Zoom. $5-$20. holidaynutz2020.eventbrite.com


REVELATIONS All month, one of Boston’s favorite touring companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, has been offering a free virtual season. Currently on deck (through Dec. 24) is the world premiere of “Testament,” a tribute to Ailey’s “Revelations” by Matthew Rushing, Clifton Brown, and Yusha-Marie Sorzano. Weaving together deep personal experiences, it chronicles a community “turning pain into power and lament into hope.” But for the ultimate uplift, you can watch Ailey’s original masterpiece, celebrating its 60th anniversary, in a live performance filmed in 2015, plus two special additional programs dedicated to the work. Through Dec. 31. www.alvinailey.org


Visual Arts

OPEN WORLD: VIDEO GAMES AND CONTEMPORARY ART Gaming isn’t most people’s idea of high culture, but the influence it exerts can’t be denied. This show features artists who show that the gaming world sits poised to offer so much more — but it is indolently content to do less. Through spring 2021. At the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, N.H. 603-669-6144, www.currier.org


MAGGIE STARK: KEEPING TIME Stark, a multimedia artist, has long examined how we perceive time. To find an anchor in this seemingly endless year, she began recording the waxing and waning of sunlight. In video, digital images, and sculpture, she methodically notes time’s passage, and considers how we quantify and package a dimension that is still in many ways a mystery. Through Jan. 16. HallSpace, 950 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester. 617-288-2255, www.hallspace.org





YOUR LATE SHOW TONIGHT This monthly online show features a different host and staff each episode, for East Coast night owls. Up this week is Alonzo Bodden, a keen observer of current events and “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” regular. His guests are the legendary George Wallace and pianist Robert Glasper. Dec. 19, 1 a.m. $10-$30. www.nowherecomedyclub.com

COMEDY STUDIO HOLIDAY SHOW This show traditionally features the strangest sketch ideas of the year from Studio regulars. This year, Niki Luparelli hosts on Zoom with a comedy cavalcade: Rob Crean, Gary Petersen, Nick Ortolani, Katie McCarthy, Andy Ofiesh, Mark Gallagher, Xazmin Garza, Chris D., Kelly MacFarland, Tony V., Wes Hazard, Tooky Kavanagh, Ethan Marsh, Emily Ruskowski, Corey Manning, Sean Rosa, and Shawn Carter. After-party on Discord. Dec. 20, 8 p.m. $10-$12. www.thecomedystudio.com

THE CHOSEN SHOW The second edition of this all-Jewish Christmas Eve show is going virtual. Dan Crohn hosts Josh Gondelman (essayist, writer, and producer on “Desus & Mero”), Myq Kaplan (new album is “A.K.A.”), Jenny Zigrino (“Bad Santa 2”), and Boston up-and-comer Chris Post. Dec. 24, 8 p.m. $15-$20. www.thecomedystudio.com



FAMILY-FRIENDLY STAND UP COMEDY Get ready to laugh along with New York-based comics from the comfort of your own home. Comedian Paul Bennett hosts this evening of kid-friendly bits and gags performed live virtually. Between sets of the “Guess What” comedy show, young attendees will have the chance to try their own hands at cracking some jokes. Dec. 19, 1 to 3 p.m. Suggested donation of $5. eventbrite.com

SOLSTICE EVENING Climb into your car and head down to deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to celebrate the shortest day of the year. Watch the winter solstice sunset fade into the night sky and have your constellation map handy for stargazing from the museum’s terrace. Attendees are encouraged to dress warmly and bring their own snacks and drinks. Dec. 21, 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets $32 per carload. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln. thetrustees.org

ZOLA THE KIND-HEARTED ELF Presented by ZooLab, this virtual event will follow Christmas elf Zola as she delivers presents to children across the world. In her travels, she’ll encounter an array of animals across the globe. ZooLab presenters will also lead workshops focused on selflessness and the spirit of giving while sporting festive costumes. Dec. 23, 10 a.m. Free. eventbrite.com