Thursday, December 22, 2016

9 Excellent Things to Do in St. Louis This Week

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 6:50 AM

click to enlarge A Christmas Story airs at Schlafly Bottleworks tonight.
  • A Christmas Story airs at Schlafly Bottleworks tonight.
Maybe you've got a three-day weekend — or maybe, lucky duck, you're looking at a four-day version. Whatever your schedule, Christmas being on a Sunday has thrown things off a bit, leaving this handy guide a great shortcut to making plans. Whether you want to watch a holiday classic with craft beer lovers or skate the night away, we've got you covered.

Here are our nine picks, beginning with tonight — Thursday, December 22.

1. Hear the Bach Society's beautiful songs by candlelight
The Bach Society of Saint Louis' annual Christmas gift to the city is its Christmas Candlelight Concert, a tradition started in 1951. This yearly event sees the group enter a darkened Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.bachsociety.org) singing while carrying lit candles. It's a solemn and beautiful experience that celebrates the season and the joy that comes from voices raised on high. Classical music magazine BBC Music recently rated the concert one of the top twenty Christmas events in North America don't let it pass you by. The main event this year is John Rutter's Latin American-tinged Magnificat, with soprano Emily Birsan performing as the featured soloist. The St. Louis Children's Chorus joins forces with the Bach Society to sing carols and provide a few other festive surprise. The Christmas Candlelight Concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Powell Hall. Tickets are $30 to $75.


2. See a Christmas classic set in the Midwest

Bob Clark's classic film A Christmas Story gets a 24-hour marathon on Christmas Day courtesy of one of the cable channels, but it's chopped up by commercials. Come see it unsullied by the crass commercialism of the season in a bar — Jean Shepherd, whose book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, is the inspiration for the film, would appreciate it. He was a guy who liked beer and salami in equal measure, and since he's the guy who's narrating the film, so why not order a beer while you're there and hoist it in his memory? Relive Ralphie's quest for a very specific model of BB gun, remember every great gift you ever received, and then spare a thought for all those kids anticipating Christmas morning right now. Culture Shock presents A Christmas Story Thursday at 7 p.m. at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Boulevard, Maplewood; www.afilmseries.com). Tickets are $6.


3. Check out the Compton Heights Concert Band

For 40 summers the Compton Heights Concert Band has been rocking Tower Grove Park with Sousa marches and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, complete with cannon blasts. But the band also performs one show every winter: its Holiday Pops Spectacular. Joined by special guests Hugh K. Smith (tenor, pictured) and St. Louis' own Gina Galati (soprano), the band performs a family-friendly program of Christmas carols and sacred classics. The big finish is the best bit of Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus, with all hands on deck and additional vocal reinforcements in the form of the East Central College Combined Choirs. Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.chband.org) is the only building in town that won't get its roof blown off during the crescendoes, so that's where the concert takes place. The Holiday Pops Spectacular starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $30 to $75.


4. See a great old film at Webster U
In the era of remakes and reboots, it's difficult to imagine a time when any film was the first of its kind. Henry Edwards' 1935 effort Scrooge was the first "talkie" version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and it made a few key innovations. Edwards spent more time developing the London that created the miser Ebeneezer Scrooge, a city in which incalculable wealth and grinding poverty exist cheek by jowl, and he keeps the spirits that haunt Scrooge invisible to the audience. There's a sense of reality that pays off when the Spirit of Christmas Future reveals the corpse of Tiny Tim to Scrooge — no euphemisms or niceties here. Kids end up dead and Ebeneezer is damned unless he changes his ways. The Webster Film Series screens Scrooge at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday (December 22 and 23) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.webster.edu/film-series). Admission is free.

Turn the page for more Christmas week fun.

More by Paul Friswold

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