After the last verse of Auld Lang Syne fades, it’s time to don an Elizabethan cape and learn to play Mölkky. A new year beckons, packed with everything from an urban recreational lodge to a silent disco.
1. Todd Glass at Arcade Comedy Theater: January 7 — 9
You might already know that Pittsburgh’s comedy scene is generating national buzz (see our recent feature to find out why). Whether you missed his sold-out appearance at last year’s Pittsburgh Comedy Festival—or you love his new book hilariously subtitled, A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy—you’ll want to grab tickets now to see Todd Glass. The Philly native—who got his start doing stand-up on Comedy Central—has attracted an international fan base via his popular podcast, The Nerdist Network, and stints on Tosh.0, Louie, Conan and Last Comic Standing.
Every Glass show is different, blending elements of improv, personal anecdotes and signature Glass witticisms. Packed with irreverent satire, explosive routines and plenty of squirm-in-your-seat audience interaction, Glass’s Arcade Comedy shows will be accompanied by Pittsburgh musicians James Rushin (piano) and Ross Antonich (drums). Make sure you’re in the audience for the hilarity, because Glass is working on new material for an upcoming comedy special to air in 2016.
2. Chatham Baroque’s Twelfth Night Gala at The Ace Hotel: January 9
Can you say happy quadricentennial? Mark the end of 2015, the death of the Bard and Chatham Baroque’s 25th anniversary at one very chic and musical soirée. Don that “funereal cocktail attire” (think black netted chapeaus, sleek cloaks and wild wigs) and party like it’s 1599 at the group’s grand Twelfth Night Gala. For its 17th annual edition, the benefit bash adds a festive literary flair, paying tribute to the influence that William Shakespeare continues to have on the arts and culture since his death 400 years ago.
Kick off the winter night from 6 to 8 p.m. with a nod to Midsummer Night’s Dream during the VIP Oberon’s Feast catered by The Whitfield, followed by main event festivities from 8 to 11 p.m. Revelers will be treated to performances by Chatham Baroque and can bid on artwork in a silent auction curated by Jessica Beck of The Warhol Museum—all set against the backdrop of Pittsburgh’s newest boutique hotel. Performing locally and around the globe, Chatham Baroque features Andrew Fouts (baroque violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba) and Scott Pauley (theorbo and baroque guitar) who bring technical prowess, period instruments and vibrant interpretations to 17th- and 18th-century music. Purchase tickets.
3. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: January 11 – 17
Zagat just named Pittsburgh a #1 food city and this is your chance to see why. For its winter installment, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week celebrates “New Dishes for the New Year” with a kickoff party on January 7th, preview weekend January 8-10 and 50-plus dining destinations spanning seven days and the entire city—from Paris 66 to Avenue B. Helping to boost the local restaurant economy during a slower time of year, diners will enjoy special multi-course menus, cleverly priced $20.16 specialty items and prix fixe meals from area eateries—all while experiencing Pittsburgh’s eclectic neighborhoods and taking in the city’s dining landscape without breaking the bank.
Highlighting Pittsburgh’s numerous and diverse dining options, PRW also brings residents from the city and surrounding ‘burbs together to stroll the streets and see what delicious new dishes are on our gastronomical horizon. Get a first taste at Pittsburgh Glass Center during the PRW kickoff bash featuring festive cocktails conjured by Prairie, free samples from participating restaurants, charity raffles and tunes by DJ Digital Dave. View a complete schedule and a restaurant map.
4. Third Thursdays: BOOM! at Carnegie Museum of Art: January 21
Have you ever wanted to curate your own private disco inside a Parthenon-like hall surrounded by historic sculpture, giant plastic casts and installation art? This month, thanks to Carnegie Museum of Art’s (CMOA) creative new Third Thursdays series, you can do all of this and much more. Teaming up with artists from Garfield-based BOOM Concepts, the Oakland destination will dim the lights, turn up the volume and keep the galleries open late for a night of music and merriment amidst the museum’s world-class spaces. And NEXTpittsburgh is a proud media sponsor.
A huge hit in Korea, Brazil and Japan, the wireless headphone clubbing phenomenon dubbed “Silent Disco” is making its way to the Burgh. Don a set of headphones, tune into a channel, choose beats by DJs Christo (of Wiz Khalifa production fame) and EyeJay and dance the night way throughout the museum’s ornate Hall of Sculpture. Be among the first to see the new Teenie Harris exhibition, Great Performances Off-Stage, and take an “unconventional gallery tour” led by Sean Beauford, Joi Rogers, D.S. Kinsel and Julie Mallis. In between grooving and gallery roaming, check out the museum café’s new late-night menu. Register now.
5. Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District: January 22
For its first Gallery Crawl of 2016, The Cultural Trust’s quarterly showcase features a fun, free and jam-packed night of immersive art, music, performance, film and hands-on activities at 30 venues between 5:30 and 9 p.m. There are slew of art openings to hit, so we’ve got some not-to-miss highlights.
At Wood Street Galleries, Pastoral Noir features British artists whose immersive installations explore nature, haunted science and rural myths. Pop into SPACE to check out The Mountain and the Bumblebee, a group exhibit of contemporary art and poetry focused on the theme of landscape. At 707 Gallery, curator Sean Beauford presents Poison, a powerful look at relationships between drugs and urban communities, while Elizabeth Rudnick’s You’re Not Real, I’m Real uses cutting-edge and conventional media to explore anxiety and desire in the digital age. 709 Penn hosts Fran Flaherty’s Post-Erotica, which explores motherhood, along with Red & Green and Other Colors, an audio-video exhibit by Herman Pearl and Isabelle Strollo that dissects and distorts commercial images to reveal hidden mysteries. View a complete schedule.
6. The Rec Room: Winter Games at Spirit Hall: January 24
Move over Pyeongchang, there’s a new winter games in town. The perfect way to escape the cold, cure cabin fever and rethink Sundays (without having to trek out to Hidden Valley) is at this new bi-weekly, indoor game series cooked up by Weather Permitting, Pandemic, City of Play, Sweetwater Beer and Schell Games. For its inaugural edition at Lawrenceville hangout Spirit, The Rec Room features live music by Andre Costello and the Cool Minors and DJ Miss Mungo.
Games rotate each week, and will include unique parlor sports such as Bally, GaGa, Mölkky and Bucket Pong, plus new hybrid physical-digital games. Joust to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, steal blocks without getting caught in the light, scale the highest mountain around—which happens to resemble a sidewalk—and more. Enjoy music, beer, pizza and good-natured fun. You might even nab a cool award badge. While games are intended for adults, parents and children are welcome to attend together. Cost: $10.
7. FUSE@PSO at Heinz Hall: January 27
Been hearing the buzz—quite literally—about FUSE but have yet to catch one of the hip hybrids at Heinz Hall? The fresh new can’t-miss series returns to kick off 2016 with a mash-up concert exploring American identity through music. The “Dean of American Composers” meets introspective indie folk when FUSE merges the sounds of Aaron Copland and Bon Iver. For its latest installment, series creator and PSO conductor Steve Hackman will reinvent Copland’s renowned 1944 orchestral suite, Appalachian Spring, alongside the contemporary music of Justin Vernon’s Grammy Award-winning indie folk group, Bon Iver. The unique sonic landscape of pastoral, textured and contemplative music will also feature the PSO and guest vocalists Avery Leigh Draut, Will Post and Keren Tayar.
Ramping up the energy will be a special guest appearance by Pittsburgh’s own Beauty Slap, who will perform special arrangements of their songs with the symphony and wrap up the night with their beat-and-brass heavy electronic dance music. The PSO is also debuting its new FUSE+ package offering select classical concerts and post-show experiences. Arrive at 5 for a happy hour in Heinz Hall, with pre-concert beats from local DJs, discounted drinks, snack fare and mingling with musicians and fellow music-lovers. The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open seating with drinks permitted inside Heinz Hall. Check out Hackman’s blog to get a behind-the-scenes look at the conductor’s innovative artistic process and follow along as he develops upcoming concerts. NEXTpittsburgh is happy to be a media sponsor. Purchase tickets.
8. Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake at The Byham Theater: January 30
Tchaikovsky’s 19th-century masterwork—one of the most popular ballets of all time—has been adapted by George Balanchine, inspired a Japanese anime flick and is the focal point of Darren Aronofsky’s chilling 2010 movie Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. But on January 30th, ballet lovers will experience Swan Lake as they never have before. Reimagining the iconic ballet through a focused South African lens, the electrifying work showcases Masilo’s unconventional choreography and raw physicality, while frankly exploring intense emotions, scathing humor and issues of gender, sex, homophobia, apartheid and AIDS.
In Masilo’s world, the traditional and the contemporary collide, bursts of Tchaikovsky merge with African rhythms, a gay prince and barefoot male dancers in tutus populate the story and stereotypes are smashed. An explosive fusion of classical and African dance, the work showcases Masilo’s unique high-speed style while offering a refreshing new take on the venerated dance form of ballet. A star on the international dance scene, Dada Masilo grew up in the impoverished Johannesburg township of Soweto, studied dance in South Africa and Brussels and founded her own company in 2008. Contains nudity. Purchase tickets.
9. The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee at The Irma Freeman Center: January 30
Quick, can you spell antediluvian? Dust off your dictionaries, brush up on those affixes and channel your inner Akeelah Anderson because The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee is back. A celebration of the age-old art of spelling words—before the days of Autocorrect and Siri—the homegrown bee is calling all wordsmiths and budding etymologists to join fellow language lovers for an evening of good-natured competition and community spirit. You’ll be spelling for a great local cause since all proceeds benefit the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. Reviving the beloved pastime are organizers Mark Sepe and Erin Oldynski, who are also judging the bee along with Peter Kosloski.
Spellers will vie for a top prize of $50 while second and third place winners will receive special awards. With a sliding scale entry fee of $5-$10 for participants, this bee is accessible to all budgets. Have the chops to compete? Register as a speller today (note: the bee is primarily for adults, but all are welcome to participate). Not the best speller, but want to watch the fun? The event is free for audience members and refreshments will be served.
10. Yoi! Remembering Myron Cope at the Heinz History Center: January 31
Practice your best yoi!, double yoi!—and even a resounding triple yoi!—grab that Terrible Towel and head to the History Center to celebrate the life and legacy of the one-and-only Myron Cope. The Strip District destination is calling all Cope devotees to an afternoon of all things Myron. Learn all about this true Pittsburgh original during a multimedia presentation featuring rare archival material donated by Cope’s family and hear a talk by legendary New York Times sportswriter and Squirrel Hill native Murray Chass. Count down to Super Bowl 50 and honor the “voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers” on the heels of what would have been Cope’s 87th birthday. Event emcee is famed sports broadcaster Bill Hillgrove, who will share his favorite Myron Cope stories.
If you were a child in Pittsburgh during the 1970s and 1980s, you likely have the four short words “Myron Cope on sports” etched in your brain. Cope’s distinctive, inimitable Pittsburgh accent—heard ’round the world—was paired with a level of enthusiasm rarely seen in the broadcast booth. Along with names like Heinz, Strayhorn and Warhol, Cope is a larger-than-life figure beloved by locals and the Pittsburgh diaspora alike. Née Myron Sidney Kopelman in 1929, Cope attended Taylor Allderdice and Pitt and became the first football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. The event runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and is included with museum admission (free for members).
Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you our not-to-miss honorable mentions for January:
The Galaxy Ball at the August Wilson Center presented by True T Entertainment and The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force: January 16
Pittsburgh Speaker Series featuring Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Heinz Hall: January 20
Some Brighter Distance at City Theatre Company: January 23 – February 14
Architecture lecture by Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group at Carnegie Museum of Art: January 28
Cesar Millan at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts: January 28