It's more than a little depressing to realize how we as a nation took Doc Severinsen for granted. For 30-odd years, the flamboyantly dressed trumpeter was part of America's late-night ritual as the musical director for the Tonight Show house band, and it was his clarion-call blast that ushered Johnny Carson through that ugly curtain. And for almost his entire run on the show, the former child prodigy (Severinsen's been a working musician since the age of seven!) held one of the most high-profile musical jobs in the world, but the majority of the music he played was only heard for a few seconds as the lead-in to a commercial break or as the show came back from commercials. On rare occasions Doc and his big band stepped out with a full song, and the happy-go-lucky bandleader in the flashy suit was revealed as a scintillating musician with a cutting tone that was both powerful and lyrical.
But now, more than a decade after his exit from the Tonight Show, Doc travels the world showcasing the skills that made him a legend. The trumpeter joins the Compton Heights Concert Band for two nights of "Pops at Powell" (Powell Symphony Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard). Hear Doc Severinsen (with no commercial interruptions) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday (December 8 and 9). Tickets are $12 to $100 and are available by calling 314-534-1700 or visiting www.slso.org. -- Paul Friswold
Amahl and Co. visit COCA
When the suits at NBC commissioned the first opera for television in 1951, composer Gian Carlo Menotti gave them Amahl and the Night Visitors, the story of a crippled shepherd boy's miracle at the scene of the first Christmas. First broadcast live on Christmas Eve of that year, the heartwarming tale has endured as one of the most performed operas in history. LyriCo, St. Louis' newest light-opera company, debuts with Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Center of Creative Arts (524 Trinity Avenue, University City) on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. (December 10 through 12). Tickets are $17. Call 314-725-6555 or visit www.cocastl.org for more information. -- John Goddard
Get Your Diploma
People who aren't from this fine city like to poke fun at how we do things around here, from our inclement-weather driving to our formal way of getting to know a new friend over a locally brewed beer. Outsiders sneer as we ask one another, "Where'd you go to high school?" But soon enough, after consuming enough of our "water," even these transplants will wonder about our secondary education, and instead of merely asking us the magic question (that would be gauche!), the curious can use their powers of deduction while reading So, Where'd You Go to High School? Volume 1: Affton to Yeshiva: 200 Years of St. Louis Area High Schools by Ray Bosenbecker. This recently published book includes high school history and descriptions of more than 150 St. Louis-area schools. Happy guessing! The non-native (but longtime resident) Bosenbecker signs copies of his book at the Ballwin Borders (15355A Manchester Road; 636-230-2992) on Wednesday, December 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. and at the Ladue Crossing Barnes & Noble Booksellers (8871 Ladue Road, Ladue; 314-862-6280) on Saturday, December 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. -- Alison Sieloff
Show Your Seoul
For fans of the kinetic arts, there's no better way to spend an evening than appreciating foreign dance. The Cho Heung Dong Dance Company provides the necessary movements and music with a special performance entitled "The Spirit of Korean Dance" at 8 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949; $25). In addition to the thirteen dancers and five musicians, the show also features some Buddhist rituals as part of the entertainment. -- Paul Friswold