What to check out in Chicago this week: An Evening of Wine & Film with Ed Burns, a Do-It-Yourself ‘Messiah’, Taiko legacy, the Marty Casey Silver Elements trunk show, and the ‘Underwater Dogs’ book signing.
Dec. 17 & 18: After participating in a singalong version of Handel’s “Messiah” in England, music-loving Chicagoan Al Booth launched a Windy City version in 1976, and this wonderfully democratic rendition has been a holiday tradition ever since. From the stirring strings of “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” to the irresistible power of the “Hallelujah!” chorus, there’s nothing quite like it to get in the seasonal spirit. Who wouldn’t want to join in and lift their voice in song? Tickets: $10. Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph. Visit the box office, call (312) 334-7777 or purchase online at Harristheaterchicago.org.
An Evening of Wine & Film with Ed Burns
Dec. 18: Forget popcorn and a movie — City Winery’s Michael Dorf and director/actor Ed Burns have their sights set on a more unconventional pairing. Oenophiles and film buffs alike will get a kick out of this event, in which Dorf pairs eight wines with eight scenes from Burns’s films, from his indie debut “The Brothers McMullen” to his latest, the Tribeca Film release, “The Fitzgerald Family Christmas.” Burns, who’s delved as deeply into the Irish-American psyche as Scorsese has the culture of Italian-Americans, will talk shop and take questions. Tickets: $38 and $48. 1200 W. Randolph. Call (312)733-9463 or visit Citywinery.com/chicago
Dec. 18-22: ’Tis the season of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, not Miss Havisham and Mrs. Micawber. But with Dickens in the air, what better time to take a look at the parade of women who populate his many memorable novels? Created and performed by award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes (Professor Sprout to “Harry Potter” film fans) this one-woman show, in which 23 of the author’s creations come to life, explores the wonderful characters he created and the ways in which they reflect those in his own life. Tickets: $50-$60. Chicago Shakepeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand. Call (312) 595-5600 or visit Chicagoshakes.com.
‘Underwater Dogs’ book signing
Dec. 19: Seth Casteel never set out to be the photo world’s answer to the Dog Whisperer, but once his shots of canines cavorting in pools went viral, his reputation was sealed. Now captured in the pages of a book — the aptly titled Underwater Dogs — Casteel’s unique portfolio has captivated dog lovers and photo fans alike. Meet the man at Chicago Art Source, where amid music and holiday cheer, he’ll sign books from 6-9 p.m. Free. 1871 N. Clybourn. (773) 248-3100, Chicagoartsource.com.
Andrew Bird at Fourth Presbyterian Church
Dec. 19-21: It’s one thing to take in the talents of songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Andrew Bird at an outdoor show or music venue. But to listen to his folk-inspired vocals and trademark violin in a place like the majestic Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago — the grand, gothic structure on North Michigan Avenue — is a completely elevated experience. For the third year, the Chicago native returns to the sacred space for his annual multinight December show. Expect to hear songs from classic albums like “Noble Beast,” new music from his October release, “Hands of Glory,” and a few holiday tracks in between. 126 E. Chestnut, (312) 787-4570. Purchase tickets at Songkick.com.
Dec. 21-22: This celebration of thunderous Japanese drumming is no silent night. Spun from a ceremonial art more than 2,000 years old, these sounds seem to rise from deep in the earth, and the aural rush permeates the listener’s entire body. In addition to the soul-shocking percussion, the performance — orchestrated by Tsukasa Taiko, a program of Asian Improv Arts Midwest — features jazz improvisations and the stylized kimono dance of Ayako Kato. Tickets: MCA members $13; nonmembers $15; students $10. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Call (312) 397-4010 or visit Mcachicago.org.
Marty Casey Silver Elements trunk show
Dec. 22: Most locals know Marty Casey as the charismatic lead singer of Lovehammers. But when he’s not penning and performing rock tunes, he’s also one half of the creative team behind the Marty Casey Silver Elements Collection (his collaborator is designer Marla Zegart), a line of jewelry, watches, scarves, leather bags and other accessories that fuse classic designs with a rock ’n’ roll edge. Shop the collection for last-minute holiday gifts — and enjoy some acoustic music as well — at this Made in Chicago trunk show, presented by the Apparel Industry Board Inc. 6–9 p.m. 44 E. Grand. Learn more at Silverelementscollection.com.