Weekend Best Bets: December 21-23

Friday, December 21

To Bach and Back

WHAT: Red House Live: Peter Ostroushko
WHERE: Landmark Center, St. Paul
WHEN: 7 p.m.
The mandolin master releases a triple-CD—yes, triple—album from Red House records, The Mando Chronicles, that traces his instrument and his own heritage back to Italy, Ireland, and Ukraine, and as far back in time as Bach and Beethoven. He’ll be joined at this concert by musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, singer Natalie Nowytski, and other performers. Learn more at landmarkcenter.org

Friday, December 21

Messiah Returns

WHAT: Handel’s Messiah
WHERE: Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
“Comfort ye, my people,” is the phrase that opens Handel’s monumental choral work, Messiah. With that in mind, Hugh Wolff conducts the locked-out musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Chorale, and soloists Karin Wolverton, Victoria Vargas, Brad Benoit, and Richard Ollarsaba in the splendid sanctuary of Central Lutheran. Learn more at messiahmpls.brownpapertickets.com

Saturday, December 22

A Joyful Noise

WHAT: Black Nativity: A Soulful Noel
WHERE: Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7 p.m.
Penumbra may be mothballed, but the grand tradition of Black Nativity continues in this weekend-long benefit for the theater and its host, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Lou Bellamy will narrate the Christmas story as some of the most charismatic musicians in town (Dennis Spears, Latonia Hughes-Kendrick, and Sanford Moore) front the church’s gospel choir. Learn more at penumbratheatre.org

Saturday, December 22

Peace in the Trenches

WHAT: All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
WHERE: Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis
WHEN: 2 and 7:30 p.m.
The best new holiday tradition in the Twin Cities returns for six performances, an ineffably moving show about the short-lived Christmas truce during World War I. Performed by the Cantus men’s choir, it’s more universal and contemporary than you’d think, owing to director Peter Rothstein’s powerfully emotional staging. Learn more at hennepintheatretrust.org

Sunday, December 23

Seasonal Soul

WHAT: Christmas with Alexander O’Neal
WHERE: Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7 p.m.
Alexander O’Neal, the soulful pop singer, flew from Flyte Time (the Minneapolis band and studio) in the early 1990s but has only added to his devoted flock of fans. He returns to the Dakota for his annual Christmas show, where a lot of sweat, grit, and funk gets the message across. Learn more at dakotacooks.com

Sunday, December 23

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

WHAT: God Rest ye Scary Gentlemen: Christmas Ghost Stories
WHERE: Bryant-Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
WHEN: 6 p.m.
Hardcover Theatre, those enterprising miners of musty literature, offer three seasonal stories derived from the same spooky holiday tradition as Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the fireside telling of ghost stories. Here, especially in the screwball comedy The Hauntings at Grantley Grange, the idea isn’t to scare so much as entertain. Learn more at bryantlakebowl.com

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