STD (Stuff to Do)—November 17, 2006

By Eric Benson

Friday / November 17

Trio Mediaeval, the much-lauded Scandinavian threesome, brings its precise interpretations of early choral works to Rockefeller Chapel. The trio will present early Norwegian songs and mediaeval carols with characteristic austerity, promising the kind of transcendent experience that only fine choral music in a cavernous stone hall can provide. (Rockefeller Chapel, 8 p.m., $11 student, $30 general)

Music, film, and circus will flock to Hutch Commons for Reorientation, a festival of Chicago arts and culture. The evening will feature Josh Carter of the Smoking Pipes, Davey Von Bohlen of Maritime, a performance by U of C’s own Le Vorris & Vox Circus, and screenings by Fire Escape Films. The event is generously sponsored by a certain cross-campus tabloid. (Hutch Commons, 8:30 p.m., free)

Actor Crispin Glover, still best known for his role as George McFly in Back to the Future, presents a unique evening of what he calls his big slide show. Glover will read from a selection of his recent books, screen his film What Is It?, and will likely display the zany abandon that once led him to almost kick David Letterman in the face. (Music Box, 3733 Southport Avenue, 7:30 p.m., $20)

Pianist Eric Reed has seen all the sights of the jazz world. At 20, he was at the center of attention as the pianist in Wynton Marsalis’ septet. After leaving the visible but sometimes stifling environment of lord Wynton’s den, Reed wandered, trying to find his true improvisatory voice. Reports suggest that now he’s found it. You can see for yourself at the Jazz Showcase where Reed will play with two excellent Chicago-based sidemen. (Jazz Showcase, 59 West Grand Avenue, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., 21+, $25, also November 18)

Saturday / November 18

Major Activities Board (MAB) presents its first concert of the year, bringing the nimble, bohemian rap star Common to Mandel Hall. With his generous stage presence, Common can be expected to expand on the acclaimed work of Be, his most recent album, and deliver what will likely be one of MAB’s best shows in years. Doors open at 7 p.m. (Mandel Hall, 8 p.m., $20 students, $25 faculty/staff)

Recent graduate William C. White debuts as the conductor of the U of C Chamber Orchestra, presenting an all-Italian program of works by Rossini, Respighi, and Cherubini. White, an ascendant musical force and deeply committed teacher, has brought a fresh vitality to an orchestra that features concertmaster and mariachi-maestro Carlos Villarreal and famed professor emeritus David Bevington. This is a unique opportunity to catch one of tomorrow’s musical stars today. (Fulton Recital Hall, 8 p.m, free)

Chris Thomas King, the incendiary Lousiana bluesman, comes to Chicago with his idiosyncratic blend of acoustic blues and hip-hop beats. King is known to broader audiences for his role in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he played a guitarist who sold his soul for killer chops. In reality, King’s abilities come naturally, as do his sharp, socially conscious lyrics. (Buddy Guy’s Legends, 754 South Wabash Avenue, 9:30 p.m., $15)

Sunday / November 19

Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, made big waves this summer with its forecast of considerably bigger waves to come. Six years after nearly winning the presidency, Gore has become the de facto spokesman for climate change, traveling the country with a PowerPoint presentation that has been given more life here by director Davis Guggenheim. Following the screening of the film, Geophysical Sciences Professor Raymond Pierrehumbert, the director of the Climate Systems Center, will lead a discussion on this chilling hot-button issue. (Max Palevsky Cinema, 2 p.m., $5)

Monday / November 20

Theatrical director Anne Bogart, whose current production of Hotel Cassiopeia is playing at the Court Theatre, will discuss “The Role of a Theater Artist on the World Stage” as part of the U of C’s continuing Presidential Fellows in the Arts series. Following the talk, Bogart will engage in a public conversation moderated by Gretchen Helfrich. (Court Theatre, 5535 South Ellis Avenue, 7 p.m., $5 student, $15 general)

A fair amount of ink has been dedicated to the decline of American department stores, which used to profoundly dominate the urban landscape. According to author Jan Whitaker, department stores may be gone, but they haven’t been forgotten. In her book Service & Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, Whitaker tracks the continued influence of the department store on America’s culture of consumption. It promises to be a worthwhile evening for those who have ever seriously engaged in the peculiar human pursuit of shopping. (57th Street Books, 1301 East 57th Street, 7 p.m., free)

If your holiday week schedule is looking empty, you might consider a trip up to Evanston to see the opening night of quirky playwright Christopher Durang’s latst work, Miss Witherspoon. The play stages an absurd afterlife spectacle in which Jesus and the wizard Gandalf team up to convince a recently deceased woman to give life another shot. The Next Theater Company presents the Chicago premiere of the work, which will run through December 17. (Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston, IL, 7 p.m., $25)

Tuesday / November 21

The Latke-Hamentash debate is one of the U of C’s grand old traditions, drawing heated arguments on the relative merits of these gastronomic wonders from famed Chicago figures like the late Milton Friedman and Allan Bloom. A book, The Great Latke-Hamentash Debate, has been published about this unique annual occurrence, featuring classic debates by luminary U of C professors and a forward by the irascible philosopher and humorist Ted Cohen. A reception with ample latkes, hamantash, and live music will follow. The debate, celebrating its 60th anniversary, is an event that should be savored at least once in every U of C student’s career. (Mandel Hall, 7:30 p.m., free)

Wednesday / November 22

The Hideout’s continuing “Immediate Sound” series has been a boon to the city’s improvising musicians, who have lost many of their old spots to new club owners more interested in packing them in than savoring sounds. A quintet of young but well respected musicians—guitarist Jeff Parker, cornetist Josh Berman, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Anton Hatwich, and drummer Frank Rosaly—will perform two sets, with intervening DJ sets by Jim Baker. This is the place to be on Wednesdays for exciting, intelligent music. (Hideout, West Wabansia Avenue, 9:30 p.m., $6, 21+)

Thursday / November 23

If you’re sticking around Chicago for the holiday and don’t want to cook your own turkey, many Chicago restaurants offer alternatives. While most of these options are quite expensive, Ann Sather’s famed Scandinavian restaurant is serving up a traditional Thanksgiving meal for an affordable price. If you don’t dig on flesh or fowl, Chicago Diner offers a vegan take on the most famous of American meals. (Ann Sather’s: 929 West Belmont Avenue, $16.95; Chicago Diner: 3411 North Halsted Street, $36.50 dining in, $26.95 take out)