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There's Always Room for Cello
The Friday Five for Jan. 11

Janet Schiff and 1913 play Shank Hall.

It's a big week for movies, as film buffs get serious about their pre-Oscar bucket list. But if you’ve seen Lincoln 3 times already and not sure you can stomach Django Unchained, there’s a few events waiting for you on local stages, including two cello concerts of varying stripes you won't want to miss. 

#5: Mole Hill Stories at First Stage.

Why? Because you’re tired of those iPad moments, wherein you have to wrestle the glowing screen away from your four-year-old because three hours of Elmo has started to make her eyes glaze over. Bring the kids to this First Steps theater series by First Stage, specially designed for the under-six set. Tots get fine artistry, too. This bilingual dance-theater adaptation of Lois Ehlert stories was written by local playwright Alvaro Saar Rios, and features choreography by Danceworks’ Artistic Director Dani Kuepper.

#4: 1913 and Panalure at Shank Hall.

Why? Because Janet Schiff’s trio, 1913, is one of the most innovative bands in Milwaukee, combining her cello with two percussionists (Scott Johnson and Victor DeLorenzo—not your usual rock-pop trio.) In the band’s double header with Panalure, songs will feature projections by visual artists from around the world, including Milwaukeeans Kevin Miyazaki, Jon Horvath, Tara Bogart, Philip James Moody, Peter Bell and Sonja Thomsen, and many more from beyond these shores. Stop by for some art after the Packer game.

#3: Go Hear a Book!

Why? Because you just didn’t get the right stuff for Christmas—dad’s gift of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln was well-intentioned, but a little bit off mark. So head to Boswell Book Company to survey the shelves. This week, there’s a double bonus, with a rich schedule of writers slated to answer questions and sign copies. Chicago writer Scott Jacobs shares his astute observations about his Bucktown Chicago neighborhood. Journal-Sentinel performing arts critic Elaine Schmidt reads from her latest, a tween novel about a time-traveling history buff. The writing duo Magnus Flyte reads from their latest novel, City of Dark Magic, a rollicking trip involving Beethoven’s manuscripts and a 400-year-old dwarf. And Minneapolis writer Thomas Maltman reads from his novel about the dark side of small town America.

#2: Frankly Music at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Why? Because Hungarian Tamás Varga is in town, and it’s not every day that the principal cellist for the Vienna Philharmonic makes his way to the U.S. Midwest. And he brings an interesting program, three works for solo cello from the 20th century: Georgy Ligeti’s Sonata for Cello Solo, Jacques Ibert’s Ghirlarzana, and Hans Gál’s solo cello sonata. Varga closes the program with violinist Frank Almond and pianist Stephen Bues for a performance of Brahms’s C Major Piano Trio.

#1: Eric Jacobson Quartet at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Why? Because trumpeter Eric Jacobson plays it all—from soul riffs with Kings Go Forth, Latin melodies with De La Buena, to classic bebop with We Six. But he should be at his best at this concert, a special tribute to the great trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell. A player of gorgeous lyricism, Harrell is also a terrific composer, and Jacobson will channel both his spirit and his chord changes in this quartet performance.

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