Essentials: Entertainment Picks Nov. 27-Dec. 3 

FRIDAY NOV. 28

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New Narratives: Recent Work by University of Utah Faculty
The triennial art faculty exhibition currently on display at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is not only an immensely exciting show filled with wonderful and diverse works, but also a testament to the exceptional talent and vision of the art faculty currently working at the University of Utah. New Narratives: Recent Work by University of Utah Faculty is an affirmation of those who are in the demanding position of training and leading the next generation of artists. The concept of "new narratives," chosen by curator Katie Lee Koven, is an effectively broad theme for a large exhibition, representing many types and styles of works of art appealing to a vast spectrum of viewers. "These artists and the artwork they have produced empower visitors to create their own narratives," Koven says in a gallery statement. In the case of Joseph Marotta and his collaged photographs like "Palais Royal with Blue Space" and "Artifact 5," the narrative might be of presence and place. Van Chu's "Avalanche" and "Aerial Landscapes"—works behind glass that look like sandstorms—could begin a narrative into consciousness, while Al Denyer's manufactured aerial views "Arctic I, II, and III" may initiate a narrative of dimension and altered reality. Simon Blundell's layered and spliced colorful photographs "Margot Margeaux," "Forsaken Memory" and "6 Frames All Blues" are certainly cause for a narrative of memory, cognition and awareness of self, and Lewis J. Crawford's thoughtful digital projection "Geometry from Public Space, Sound & Vision" leads the audience in a powerful narrative on the reality of perception and truth. (Ehren Clark) New Narratives: Recent Work by University of Utah Faculty @ Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Drive, 801-581-7332, through Jan. 11, $7-&9. UMFA.Utah.edu

SATURDAY NOV. 29

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Utah Symphony: Messiah Sing-In
There are very few times in life when you get to enter a "judgment-free" zone. One of these rare opportunities occurs not just once but twice this weekend, at the annual Utah Symphony Messiah Sing-In at Abravanel Hall. Here's your chance to sing your heart out as part of a choir that numbers in the four figures. With that many people vocalizing together, your voice won't stand out. Besides, the entire point of the enterprise is that everybody who shows up gets to sing. If you don't have a Messiah score, they'll sell you one. Go ahead and unleash your inner The Voice contestant and belt out one of the greatest pieces of music ever written: the Hallelujah Chorus. To offset your amateur status, there will be professionals on hand to help make Handel's masterwork a memorable evening on both Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 7 p.m. The Utah Symphony will be under the baton of Thierry Fischer, accompanied by the Utah Symphony Chorus. Between choruses, sit back and enjoy soloists Melissa Heath (soprano), Abigail Levis (alto), Tyson Miller (tenor) and Christopher Clayton (baritone). The Sing-In has become an annual event that kicks off the holiday season, with lyrics Handel lifted straight from the Old Testament foretelling the coming of a redeemer. Soprano, alto, tenor or bass, this weekend is your chance to sing glorious music without anybody looking at you funny or asking you to stop. (Geoff Griffin) Messiah Sing-In @ Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, 801-355-2787, Nov. 29-30, 7 p.m., $10-$32. UtahSymphony.org

SATURDAY NOV. 29

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Salt Lake Freedom Film & Storytelling Festival
The term "film festival"—especially in the home of Sundance—may instantly inspire assumptions about edgy content and a decidedly adult sensibility. But not all film festivals aim for the same audiences—nor are they all just film festivals. Now in its 15th semi-annual incarnation, the Salt Lake Freedom Film and Storytelling Festival combines short and feature films with seasonal music, all with a family-friendly focus. The festival hosts three individual sessions at Fort Douglas' Post Theater, and showcases everything from documentary (Pieces of the Wind, about local artist and festival organizer Brian Jackson Fetzer), animation (the 1982 Oscar-nominated short The Snowman) and classic live-action (the 1951 Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol, plus a brand-new adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion). Add a "Joy to the World" concert sing-along and the new musical presentation "Christmas Lights," and you've got a wonderfully inspirational start to the holiday season. (Scott Renshaw) Salt Lake Freedom Film & Storytelling Festival @ Fort Douglas Post Theater, 245 Fort Douglas Blvd., 801-532-2766, Nov. 29, 9 a.m., 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m., $3-$5 per session. SLCstoryfest.wordpress.com

TUESDAY DEC. 2

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Jim Steenburgh: Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth
Jim Steenburgh's book was born out of idle conversations on ski lifts. When random people casually inquired about his occupation and found out he was a meteorologist, they couldn't help but wonder if he thought Utah's ski industry slogan was true. Does Utah really have the "greatest snow on earth"? According to Steenburgh, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, his book—Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth—is geared toward powder hounds of all stripes. He wanted to create a primer for all those seeking perfect conditions in-bounds or out, so they can better understand their mountain playground and its weather, including avalanche safety, historical norms, records and even basic forecasting. He does say that Utah has the greatest snow on earth, but, being a scientist, Steenburgh also seeks to dispel some long-held misconceptions as well—such as the one that our snow is "dry." The key is actually how it falls to the ground: The heavier, wetter snow falls first in a storm, and the lighter, drier flakes follow. The result? Perfect layers for ski flotation. Then there's the fact that we routinely get what he likes to call "Goldilocks Storms"—not too big and not too little, but just right. By his calculations, a resort like Alta gets nearly 20 10-inch storms per season—approximately one enviable powder day every 10 days, enough fresh snow so that everyone, even the casual skier, can regularly catch a glorious day of spraying the fine powder like mist into the air behind them. (Jacob Stringer) Jim Steenburgh: Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth @ S.J. Quinney College of Law, 332 S. 1400 East, University of Utah, 801-585-3440, Dec. 2, 12:15 p.m., free. KingsEnglish.com

WEDNESDAY DEC. 3

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Jenny Morgan: Full Circle
An artistic portrait is a window into its subject that is far more incisive, in its own way, than any photograph. The paintings of Jenny Morgan conform to the conventions of portraiture but also blur them—literally and figuratively—to transcend mere documentation and reveal something highly personal about existing in the world. Her figures have a palpable presence, returning the gaze of the viewer almost confrontationally. The former Salt Laker has only painted herself and people she knows personally, but identity seems to have begun to be erased, as a result of the blurring and the way the subjects are posed. Morgan's curator for this show, Ivar Zeile, is a former Salt Lake City artist who owns the Plus Gallery in Denver with his wife, Karen. Morgan is represented by Plus Gallery, as well as Driscoll Babcock Galleries in New York City, where she lives and works. She has won numerous awards, and her work has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Village Voice and Playboy. Morgan's works are showing concurrently with fellow New Yorker Benjamin Cottam's Crayon Drawings. Cottam has taken subjects from the news in his works, utilizing imagery from the Ferguson shooting and the local Saratoga Springs police shooting of Darrien Hunt. Both artists were raised Mormon, and the spirituality in their works makes for a fascinating contrast. (Brian Staker)Jenny Morgan: Full Circle @ CUAC, 175 E. 200 South, 385-215-6768, through Jan. 10, free. CUArtCenter.org

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