ArtFul Living

With Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing…

What is December without music?? Whether it’s the bell-ringers collecting donations outside stores, an elementary school’s holiday program, or just humming your favorite carols as you dash from errand to errand, this time of year is filled with sounds. Whether sacred or secular, the music of the season provides a soundtrack for our memories (well, maybe not that version of dogs barking to “Jingle Bells,” but that’s just my opinion…..). As I assembled the ARTful Happenings calendar, I was overwhelmed by the number of musical events celebrating this wonderful time of year. Being sensitive to the strain that holiday shopping can place upon a family’s entertainment budget, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the performances this month are very reasonably priced. And don’t worry even if your budget is really tight after holiday purchases: there are plenty of absolutely free performances to provide you with some joyful sounds—-enough, in fact, that you may find it hard to make choices. So many performances; so little time!!

The month begins with a free opera performance by Union Avenue Opera. Think kids don’t enjoy opera? Take your younger set to “The Mini Ring” at 1 p.m. on December 1—they’ll love it! Find out more at www.unionavenueopera.org.

Webster University presents its “Gift to the City” on December 2 with a free holiday concert at 2 p.m. in the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral downtown on 1201 Locust. No reservations are needed, but you’ll want to arrive early as this concert usually fills the pews.

The Saint Louis Art Museum presents “Sacred Music from the Time of Barocci” at 7 p.m. on December 7. This live performance is free but advance tickets are required. Call 314-721-0072 or visit www.slam.org.

For a slightly different twist on familiar favorites, attend “Follow That Star: A Jazz Nativity” at First Congregational United Church of Christ on Lockwood and Elm in Webster Groves, featuring jazz singer Kim Massie. There are performances at 3 and 7 p.m. on December 8, and again at 7 p.m. on December 9. No admission charge, but a free-will offering will benefit the Joplin Tornado Relief efforts and St. Louis Backstoppers, so please be generous.

Town and Country Symphony Orchestra presents an outstanding holiday concert on December 23. Plan to arrive early for a seat at the 2:30 p.m. performance at Ridgway Auditorium at The Principia, 13201 Clayton. Again, admission is free, so bring the entire family for a holiday treat. Find more info at www.tcsomo.org.

I’ll admit that these next two are not musical, but definitely an integral part of the holiday season, but definitely can fit into anyone’s budget: “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a beloved holiday classic that comes to life as a live, 1940’s radio broadcast on December 7 at St. Louis Community College in Wildwood. Doors open at 6:40 p.m. for the 7 p.m. performance in the Multipurpose Room. There’s plenty of parking and the performance is free, but please bring a canned good (or maybe several) for the Circle of Concern or a new unwrapped toy for Santa’s Helpers to share with needy children. You’ll make someone’s holiday a bit brighter. Details at www.stlcc.edu or call 636-422-2241.

Or you might like to enjoy the original film “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the big screen at Moore Auditorium, 470 Lockwood Avenue, on December 24 and 25. It’s a free screening provided by the film department of Webster University. Visit www.webster.edu/filmseries for details.

On December 29, the Saint Louis Art Museum presents “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Culture and Tradition.” The event is family-friendly, and will include African music, too. The event is free, open to the public and begins at 7 p.m.

Scan the ARTful Happenings for even more of the area’s holiday performances. Select a few, invite friends or family, and create a holiday experience. Because, after all, that’s what the holidays — whatever holidays you celebrate — are all about. It’s the experiences that stay with us as memories and become the stories we like to share (“Remember when we…….”). I hope that this is the year you create some of your very own ARTful, art-filled memories. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!!”