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For arts' sake, resolve to have more fun in 2021

For arts' sake, resolve to have more fun in 2021


Welcome to 2021. If the rigors of 2020 have left you reeling and you’re not quite sure what kinds of resolutions to make, try making more room in your life for the personal enrichment that Central Virginia’s arts organizations can offer.

Pandemic or no pandemic, it’s always a good time to feed your soul. And thanks to the creativity of local arts fans, you don’t even need to leave the house to achieve your goals.

Read more booksThrough its Shelf Life program, Virginia Festival of the Book is offering Zoom discussions with authors about their latest works. At noon Thursday, the latest event brings in author Jennifer Howard, who will talk about “Clutter: An Untidy History” with moderator, author and historian Meredith Hindley.

If purging your environment of accumulated stuff is another one of your resolutions, it’s a double win. Howard’s book is a nonfiction exploration of how the modern world started getting suffocated by its own possessions in the first place, and her research grew from her personal battle against clutter.

The next event in the Zoom series, at noon Jan. 14, brings in cookbook author Polina Chesnakova to talk about “Hot Cheese: Over 50 Gooey, Oozy, Melty Recipes” with Sara Adduci, who heads up the cheese department at Belmont Butchery in Richmond. They’ll chew on all kinds of cheesy topics, including easy snacks, twists on classic dishes and advice for throwing a fondue party. If cooking at home more often and getting more calcium are on your to-do list, you can’t go wrong here.

Shelf Life events are free, and new ones are announced all the time. Go to to register and to learn more about the series.

Jefferson-Madison Regional Library branches also have moved their book discussion groups online during the pandemic, making it easier to check out different genres of recent releases and classic works.

Go to to browse the available options, which range from Greene County Library’s Cookbook Bookclub to Scottsville Library’s Philosophy Book Club to Northside Library’s Mystery Book Group. It’s often possible to squeeze in one virtual group meeting at lunchtime and another in the evening — all while saving gas money and bus fare. And if you’ve noticed that you tend to reach for the same sorts of books, virtual meetings make it convenient to branch out and try something fresh.

Listen to more chamber musicThe Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival is building on the success of its inaugural virtual Mini-Festival in November. Mark your calendars for its next Mini-Festival, which is scheduled for March 5 to 7. The lineup of artists and repertoire will be announced later.

When the customary festival of live concerts couldn’t continue as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, festival organizers presented a string of 10 video performances by festival favorites in September. Some of the performances remain available in the listening room on the website, so get all the details at

The Tuesday Evening Concert Series is presenting performances in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Front Row national broadcast series on its website. Head to to listen to free performances by musicians in the Chamber Music Society family; many of them have performed in Cabell Hall Auditorium in previous Tuesday Evening Concert Series events.

The next program, “Virtuoso Violins,” will present music by Telemann, Strauss and Faure from Jan. 21 to 25. The performers will be Orion Weiss, Wu Han, Francisco Fullana, Paul Huang, Sean Lee, Danbi Um, Matthew Lipman and Clive Greensmith. From Feb. 4 to 8, 11 musicians will present a collection of works by Tartini, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Glinka.

Play an instrumentThe Front Porch in Charlottesville has launched its latest season of music classes, which give students of all ages the opportunity to learn online from the comfort of home.

If private lessons with local musicians are what you had in mind, The Front Porch offers instruction in banjo, bass, cello, clawhammer banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, piano, lap steel, mandolin, ukulele, upright bass and violin. Voice lessons also are available, and you can enhance your study of any instrument by signing up for instruction in songwriting and music theory.

Head to to fill out an online form to launch the process. If you’d like to learn more about renting an instrument, follow the prompt; the venue rents guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins and upright basses, so you can give them a try as you start your journey and get a better sense of what to buy to suit your hands, your height and the genres of music you’d like to play.

While you’re studying, take practice breaks on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to listen to Save the Music livestreamed concerts by local performers. Each show is rebroadcast on WTJU’s website,

Mark your calendars for livestreamed performances by Deau Eyes at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dori Freeman at 8 p.m. Jan. 20 and Brennan Gilmore, Andy Thacker and Jake Hopping at 8 p.m. Feb. 3. To check out the full schedule, visit front

Try a new genrePrivate lessons are a great way to make the leap from Beethoven to bluegrass. Another way is to check out the virtual house concerts that Kid Pan Alley is presenting at

The organization, founded by Paul Reisler in 1999, has introduced more than 65,000 children to their inner songwriters. Classes have moved online during the pandemic, and so have the house concerts, which take place on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, the latest concert in the series will unite former Charlottesville resident John McCutcheon with Chicago Mike Beck and hosts Reisler and Cheryl Toth for an evening of songs and stories. Join the “Zoom living room” audience by signing up at; if you prefer, you can catch the concert on Facebook or YouTube, too.

More drama in your lifeCentral Virginia’s theater companies are making sure the shows go on, bringing new productions to Zoom audiences.

Four County Players in Barboursville will follow up its “Home for the Holidays” virtual musical revue with a presentation of “Student Council v. Andi Johnson: A Stay-at-Home Play” by Daniel Glenn from Feb. 3 to 7. Head to for details about the Teen Arts Project production.

Next up will be “The Laramie Project” from April 7 to 11, and more offerings will be announced.

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