MLK Day virtual celebrations, NU’s virtual ‘Orfeo’ and more things to do Jan. 14-20


MLK tributes

The Music Institute of Chicago’s “Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration” includes performances by violinist Rachel Barton Pine, vocalist Tammy McCann, saxophonist Victor Goines, violinist Hannah White, duo pianists Sung Hoon Mo and Inah Chiu and the Brotherhood Chorale of the Apostolic Church of God. Streams free at 3 p.m. Jan. 17. There’s also a free lecture exploring race and identity in American music at 3 p.m. Jan. 16. Visit … The Hyde Park Art Center’s “Gamechangers & Name Changers: A Virtual MLK Day Celebration” features film screenings and conversations celebrating local artists and activists who embody the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Streams free from noon-4 p.m. Jan. 18. Visit … The African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and Black Ensemble Theater presents its annual “Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration,” an event filled with dance, music, spoken word and excerpts from King’s speeches. Streams free at 6 p.m. Jan. 18. Visit or … Old Town School of Folk Music hosts a day of free, inspirational programming, including an online Wiggleworms song/dance class at 10 a.m with with Shanta Nurullah and Zahra Baker; a peace and justice hourlong sing-along with Bill Brickey and some surprise guests at 1 and 7 p.m. Visit for day-of links to events.

‘Motel’ magic

Thaddeus Phillips wrote and stars in “Zoo Motel.”
Rafael Esteban Phillips

Take a break from quarantine when Links Hall presents Thaddeus Phillips’ mysterious and playful “Zoo Motel” performed via live stream from the writer/performer’s home outside Bogota, Colombia. Phillips and designer/artist Steven Dufala have created a wildly inventive work featuring interactive magic and illusions (created by magician Steve Cuiffo). Set in a motel room where “time stops and mysterious and illuminating stories emerge from across the globe.” Audience members (limited to 21), become the other guests in the 22-room motel. American Theatre magazine calls the show “weirdly enchanting.” “Zoo Motel” livestreams Jan. 14-24. Tickets: $21. Visit

Psychedelic opera

Nicholas Lin stars as Orfeo in Northwestern Opera Theater’s “Orfeo remote” mini-series.

Nicholas Lin stars as Orfeo in Northwestern Opera Theater’s “Orfeo remote” mini-series.
Northwestern University

Northwestern University Opera Theater has created an ambitious staging of Claudio Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” a 400-year-old opera that tells the story of the mythical poet-musician Orfeo and his journey to the underworld to rescue his love Eurydice. The Northwestern version, filmed remotely during the pandemic and presented as a five-part mini-series, is set in the 1960s amidst the counterculture movement as Orfeo takes a spiritual trip to a psychedelic underworld to retrieve Eurydice. “L’Orfeo” streams free Jan. 15-Feb. 12. Visit

Global Tiny Desk

The New York festival globalFEST, the annual event that introduces world music artists to American audiences, teams with NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts for a revamped 2021 event. The collaboration Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST features four evenings of streamed music hosted by Angélique Kidjo and featuring performances by 16 international artists. Among the performers are DakhaBrakha, Sofia Rei, Emel, Natu Camara, Martha Redbone, Rachele Andrioli, Rokia Traore, Nora Brown, Vox Sambou, Dedicated Men of Zion and more. The music streams free at 7 p.m. Jan. 11-14. Visit

Virtual explorations

The National Geographic Life Virtual Series will stream “Life on Other Worlds.”

The National Geographic Life Virtual Series will stream “Life on Other Worlds.”
Courtesy NASA JPL-Caltech

The National Geographic Life Virtual Series offers six live events featuring films, discussions and Q&As on a variety of topics beginning with “Life on Other Worlds.” Planetary scientist and astrobiologist Kevin Peter Hand and NASA engineer Kobie Boykins offer updates on this vast frontier of exploration. Livestreams at 6 p.m. Jan. 19. Other topics in the series running through April include the evolving science of dinosaurs, adventures while filmmaking in nature, the mysterious world of the seas, science and photography and women and migration. Tickets: $20; $54-$90 for the series. Visit

Rockin’ family fun

Tim Bredrup of “Tunes with Tim.”

Tim Bredrup of “Tunes with Tim.”
Kate Wautlet

Chicago musician Tim Bredrup, under the moniker “Tunes with Tim,” uses his wide repertoire of original songs — from nursery rhymes to Beatles’ tunes — to inspire families to sing and dance together while teaching the basics of music. Bredrup now celebrates the release of his new album “We’re All Human,” with a livestreamed family-friendly concert at 11 a.m. Jan. 16. Tickets: $20. Visit

To be a woman

Joanne Leonard, “Pear/NoPair/Oh Pere, October 9, 1973” from “Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973.”

Joanne Leonard, “Pear/NoPair/Oh Pere, October 9, 1973” from “Journal of a Miscarriage, 1973.”
Courtesy of Jeremy Stone, San Francisco, California

The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s new exhibit “Reproductive: Health, Fertility, Agency” explores the psychological, physical and emotional realities women encounter in the years leading up to, during and after fertility. Works range from photography to video installations by artists Laia Abril, Candice Breitz, Elinor Carucci, Krista Franklin, Doreen Garner, Candy Guinea, Joanne Leonard and Carmen Winant. Check out the free show online (and in person when museums are allowed to reopen) from Jan. 19-May 23. Visit

Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.


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