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I Heard a Bird Sing

"I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December."

- Oliver Herford, (1863-1935)

ON THE MOVE From Celeste Lawson

G Greetings, After50 friends, and welcome to December! I guess we are all in full-tilt holiday mode these days. I’m grateful for a time to be happy and giving unto others as this past year has been very stressful in so many ways, I think, and I am looking forward to the New Year. Noted below are some ways we can honor and celebrate family and community and escape from some of our anxieties. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Kwanzaa will be celebrated from December 26–January 1. Kwanzaa is an African American holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture, and is grounded in seven principles:

1) Umoja = Unity, 2) Kujichagulia = Self-determination, 3) Ujima = Collective Work and Responsibility, 4) Ujamaa = Cooperative Economics, 5) Nia = Purpose, 6) Kuumba = Creativity, and 7) Imani = Faith. Buffalo Kwanzaa has a Facebook page where its scheduled events are listed. Most events are from 7pm-9pm.

Hanukkah (or Chanukah) falls on December 12–December 20 this year. The eight-day Jewish celebration celebrates the triumph of the Jewish people over religious persecution and commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where, according to legend, Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Called “The Festival of Lights,” it is observed by lighting candles on the nine branches of a menorah and enjoying special sweets and family games.

Place Relations, Now through January 6, Mon.–Fri., 9am–8pm; Sat., 10am–5pm; Sun., 10am– 3pm

CEPA Gallery, 617 Main Street, Market Arcade Building, Buffalo, NY, 14203

Place Relations takes shape as an ongoing exhibition and performance series exploring cultural identity from a variety of places around the world. Place Relations: Identity in Contemporary Israeli Avant Garde Art features a shifting roster of artists from Israel whose rotating work will be placed in a series of conversations with one another. In addition to the many full-scale gallery installations, there will be additional film screenings and other related programming throughout the run of the exhibition. Call 856-2717 for information.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Live Radio Play, Now through Dec. 10; Thurs.-Sat., 7:30pm; Sun., 2pm

Shea's 710 Theatre, 710 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14202.

Spend a little time in Bedford Falls by being a part of the studio audience at WBFR’s 1946 Christmas Eve radio broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life. Five actors and a Foley artist perform all the voices, music, singing, and sound effects from the most beloved Christmas movie of all time. Call 629-3069 for information.

Tidings of Comfort & Jazz with the Buffalo Jazztet, Sat., Dec. 2, 7:30pm

Final concert in the Kenan Center’s 50th Anniversary Jazz Series. Popular holiday classics will be performed by The Buffalo Jazztet, featuring top names in jazz, both locally and nationally. Tickets run from $15-$20. Purchase online at Ticketleap, at the Kenan Center box office, or by phone at 433-2617. Ample free parking is available on-site. Seating is limited.

2017 City of Buffalo Artists Market, Wed., Dec. 6, 4:30pm–8:30pm

‘Tis the season to celebrate local artists! Over 55 local vendors will be in the Ellicott Square Building.

A Polish Holiday: Carols, Song, & Dance, Dec. 9, 7:30pm

UB Center for the Arts, 103 Center for the Arts, Buffalo, NY, 14260

Come and watch this event performed by the Lira Singers, Dancers, and the Lira Chamber Players. This performance includes Polish and American carols, music of major Polish composers, and an entire act of Polish folk songs and dance presented with multiple changes of authentic and colorful Polish regional folk attire. Tickets are $35-$55. Call 645-6915 for information.

Castellani Art Museum Presents “CAM’s 10th Annual Holiday Bash!” Fri., Dec. 8, 5pm–8pm

Niagara University Campus, Niagara University, NY, 14109, Niagara County

Celebrate the holidays in the beautiful Castellani Art Museum with live music by local band PENELOPE. The museum shop will be open during the event offering a 20% discount on merchandise. Cost: FREE to Castellani Art Museum members; $10 for general public. Call 286-8200 for information.

Holiday Happening, Niagara Wine Trail Tasting, All weekends in December

Niagara Wine Trail, Niagara, Niagara, NY, 14777

Price: $50 single pre-sale/$65 couple. Couples ticket includes wine tasting and a wine glass for each person; only one ornament gift per couple. Tickets and ornaments available while supplies last. Call (800)405-0670 for information.

A Celtic Family Christmas, Dec. 10, 7:30pm

UB Center for the Arts, 103 Center for Tomorrow, Buffalo, NY, 14260

Tickets: $39–$49

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, award-winning fiddle virtuosos, present an intimate and unique Christmas concert accompanied by an array of talented musicians and their children. Call 645-6915 for information.

John Morris Russells’ Holiday Pops, December 15–16, 8pm

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kleinhans Music Hall, Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY, 14201

The BPO Chorus joins the BPO for the #1 holiday tradition! Enjoy a reading from The Polar Express, complete with beautiful illustrations projected above the stage and set to the movie’s score. Favorite holiday tunes will also be performed! Tickets: $36–$86. Box Office: 885-5000.

Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas, Dec. 15, 8pm

Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY, 14222

Norman Brown, Grammy Award-winning artist, has been offering tasty sonic tidbits of classic R&B and contemporary jazz over the years. He will be joined by R&B and standards singers/songwriters Bobby Caldwell and Marion Meadows, a highly respected staple of contemporary jazz. Tickets: $37–$45. Call 878-3005 for information.

WNY Book Arts Center: the Last Minute Panic Holiday Marketplace, Fri., Dec. 15, 4pm–8pm; Sat., Dec. 16, 11am–5pm

Western New York Book Arts Center, 468 Washington Street, Buffalo, NY, 14203

The Last Minute Panic Holiday Marketplace features book artists, craftspeople of all mediums, printers, and other handmade, self-published, and locally produced items. All items for sale MUST be handmade or designed by the artist. Call 348-1430 for information.

Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens: Dollar Day! Thurs., Dec. 28, 10am–5pm

Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY, 14218

Come visit the gardens for $1! It will be warm inside and the poinsettias will be in full bloom! Call 827-1584 for information.

Any thoughts, you can email me at


Celeste Lawson is a long-time arts advocate, arts administrator, and artist in WNY. Over the years she has worked with arts organizations locally, statewide, and nationally including the National Endowment on the Arts, Americans for the Arts, NYS Council on the Arts, the NYS Council on the Humanities and the NY Foundation on the Arts.