The Cultural To-Do List: December 2015

Your guide to this month's events.

Photograph ©Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Gift of Kenneth Paul Block, made possible with the generous 
assistance of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf

Kenneth Paul Block/Hiro

This month the MFA launches simultaneous exhibits of two of the fashion industry’s most revered imagists, American illustrator Kenneth Paul Block and Japanese photographer Hiro. Indeed the careers of these two men were parallels in real time: Both hit their peak in the 1950s and carried on for decades afterward, shaping the look of such influential journals as Women’s Wear Daily and Harper’s Bazaar.

Hiro began as an assistant to fashion photographer Richard Avedon, but went on to become a legend in his own right, shooting designs by Halston and Elsa Peretti and album covers for Miles Davis and the Rolling Stones. Using stark contrasts and startling angles, his photography was famous for abstracting the human body. Also instantly recognizable are Block’s watercolors and charcoals of impossibly graceful women in flowing gowns and chic overcoats, a style he applied to portraits of society mavens such as Jackie Kennedy. Though the museum will focus largely on their fashion work, even the most style-unconscious will appreciate how these two artists shaped the aesthetic of the past century.

December 12–August 14, 2016, Museum of Fine Arts, 617-267-9300,

©Hiro/Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“The Invention of Rock ’n’ Roll”

Soon after earning his master’s in creative writing from BU in 1968, Peter Guralnick embarked on a landmark career chronicling the history of American roots music. His latest book tells the story of Sam Phillips, the Sun Records producer who made Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash household names. Catch Guralnick this month at MIT, where he’ll talk about the birth of rock ’n’ roll with The Leftovers novelist Tom Perrotta.

December 3, Kirsch Auditorium, Stata Center, MIT, 617-324-1729,

Courtesy of American Repertory Theater

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

The A.R.T. has long staged Shakespeare classics as contemporary immersive experiences. Now it’s Tolstoy’s turn: A romantic episode from War and Peace is now a lush musical featuring a mash-up of orchestra and electropop, with the audience in the heart of the action.

December 6–January 3, American Repertory Theater, 617-547-8300,

Jingle Ball 2015

Courtesy of iHeart-Radio’s year-end touring revue, Kiss 108 is bringing the top hitmakers to town. For one ticket, you can see naughty electro-soulsters (the Weeknd), teen idols turned adult icons (Demi Lovato), and Taylor Swift’s beau, superstar DJ Calvin Harris.

December 10, TD Garden, 800-745-3000,

The Christmas Revels

This year the musical troupe Revels has subtitled its December show “A Welsh Celebration of the Winter Solstice.” That means fantastical Celtic folklore and song, a traditional mummers play, and even Morris dancing.

December 11–27, Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 617-972-8300,

“A Mediterranean Christmas”

Joined by the Arab-American Sharq Ensemble, the Boston Camerata is bringing the nativity tunes of southern Europe, the Holy Land, and North Africa to Lexington’s Hancock United Church of Christ, Newbury’s First Parish Church, and Cambridge’s First Church.

December 18, 19, 21, 617-262-2092,

Mighty Mighty Bosstones promo photo 2015

Street Dogs/Mighty Mighty Bosstones

’Tis the season for pints and moshing. Led by original Dropkick Murphys singer Mike McColgan, Street Dogs drop some yuletide yowls during their “Wreck the Halls” shows at Brighton Music Hall. The following week at the House of Blues, the Bosstones thrash in the New Year with their annual “Hometown Throwdown.”

December 18–20/December 26–28, Brighton Music Hall, 617-779-0140,; House of Blues, 888-693-2583,