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FEATURED

Jonathan Carlson Art Exhibition Dec. 1-31 The Hotel Congress Lobby is the site for a showing of artist/illustrator Jonathan Carlson’s work. His very detailed paintings draw from Tucson landmarks, vintage photos, images of famous people, and a keen sense of humanity. 311 E. Congress. Hotelcongress.com. Jonathancarlsonart.com.

Tucson Desert Art Museum Dec. 1-Jan. 31, 2022 A Moment in the Barrio — Tucson Barrio Painters group art show and sale runs through January 31.Beginning Dec. 15 is Sacred Dancers: Ceremonial Navajo Textiles. 7000 E. Tanque Verde. 202-3888. TucsonDART.org.

Arizona Opera League of Tucson Dec. 4 This annual Christmas luncheon will feature a performance by the Jubilate Choir of the Tucson Girls Chorus. Proof of vaccination and masks will be required. 11:30 am. Mountain Oyster Club, 6400 E. El Dorado Circle. Tickets and information: Dcs1984@comcast.com.

 

Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival Dec. 4 Live entertainment, art and culture exhibits, farmers market, artisan vendors and a tamale-tasting are all part of this 16th annual celebration. 10 am-5 pm. 838-6700. AVA Amphitheater. Casinodelsol.com/event/16th-tamal-festival.

VailFest 2021 Dec. 4 The Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce holds this festival, featuring go-kart races, horseback riding, a petting zoo, games and food trucks. 9 am-7 pm. Pima County Fairgrounds. 762-9100. Greatervailchamber.com/vailfest.

Tucson Marathon/Marathon Relay/Half Marathon Dec. 4 Courses for amateur and experienced runners, including a qualifying event for the Boston Marathon, are all part of this day in Oracle. El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort. 7 am. 403-3355. Tucsonmarathon.com.

Oro Valley Festival of the Arts & Holiday Tree Lighting Dec. 4-5 Artists, food vendors, children’s activities, live music and holiday décor are the mood-setting ingredients for this celebration. Sat: 10 am-5 pm; Sun: 10 am-4 pm; tree lighting events Sat 3-6 pm. Oro Valley Marketplace. 797-3959. Saaca.org/holidayfestival.html.

La Fiesta de Tumacácori Dec. 4-5 The fiesta marks half a century with live entertainment, food and craft booths, kids activities, and a mariachi mass on Sunday. Sat: 10 am-5 pm; Sun: 10 am-4 pm. 377-5060. Nps.gov/tuma/planyourvisit/special-events.htm.

Ballet Tucson Sugar Plum Tea Dec. 5 Music from harpist Christine Vivona and the 4th Avenue Strings (led by Rose Todaro) are among the highlights of this 20th annual event. Ballet Tucson artists in costumes from The Nutcracker will perform, and there will be a holiday boutique, silent auction of gifts and treasures, and a high tea. 1 pm. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Tucson — Reid Park. 903-1445. Ballettucson.org/special-events.

 

Artists & Makers Studios Dec. 10-11 Local artists will open their doors to show, sell, demonstrate and chat with aficionados of paintings, pottery, jewelry and other mediums. 9 am-3 pm. 11061 N. Oracle Road, Suite 150, Oro Valley. Artistsandmakersstudios.com.

Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair Dec. 10-12 Visit more than 400 arts and crafts booths, dine at 35-plus food vendors, enjoy live music and street performers, along with kids activities at this annual happening. 10 am-dusk. 624-5004. Fourthavenue.org/fourth-avenue-winter-street-fair.

Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul Dec. 10-18 The paths will be lined with more than a million twinkling lights, and musicians will perform throughout the gardens. Hot cocoa and other treats will be available. 5:30-8:30 pm. 742-6455. Tohonochul.org/holiday-nights-2021.

Amado Chili Cook-off Dec. 11 Paired with a classic car and motorcycle show, this culinary event also will feature music, and craft vendors. 9 am-2 pm. Amado Territory Inn. (520) 403-0414. Amadochilicookoff.org.

The Angel Ball Dec. 11 The theme this year is “A Night of Merriment,” with Venice during carnival as the setting. Games of chance, silent auction, live music, raffle, gift boutique, seated, multicourse dining, are all part of the fundraising festivities. 5:30 pm. The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. 326-3686. Angelcharity.org.

Winterhaven Festival of Lights Dec. 11-26 A tradition for more than 70 years, this event draws people from all over our city to the historic central Tucson neighborhood to see creative holiday displays and benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. 6-10 pm. Winterhavenfestival.org.

Theater & Film

Arizona Theatre Company Dec. 1-4 Characters from Jane Austen assume new life in Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley, a romantic comedy by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. 330 S. Scott. 622-2823. Arizonatheatre.org.

Live Theatre Workshop Dec. 3-19  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: A Christmas Sing-A-Long gives everyone in the family a chance to warm up their pipes for the holidays. 3322 E. Fort Lowell Road (in the Children’s Theatre). 327-4242. Livetheatreworkshop.org.

Arizona Repertory Theatre Dec. 3-5 Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody is a reworking of the 15th century morality play Everyman, with a cast that changes parts at each performance via lottery, all to examine the meaning of life … and death. UArizona Tornabene Theater. 621-3341. Theatre.arizona.edu.

Pima Theatre Dec. 4-5 Elf Elegies: Essential Workers of the North Pole takes audiences inside the world of individuals who make Santa’s mission possible. PCC Center for the Arts. 206-6986. Pima.edu/arts.

  

Music

UA Fred Fox School of Music Concerts Dec. 1-14 Dec. 1: Fred Fox Graduate Wind Quintet. 7 pm. Holsclaw Hall. Dec. 1: “Beyond the Pandemic” UA Concert Jazz Band and UA Studio Jazz Ensemble. 7:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 2: UA Jazz Combos — UA Bebop Ensemble, UA Experiential Ensemble and Fred Fox Jazz Ensemble. 7:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 3: UA Philharmonic Orchestra. 7:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 4: UA Wind Ensemble. 7:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 5: William Wolfe Guitar Award Recital. 2 pm. Holsclaw Hall. Dec. 5: Undergraduate Percussion Ensemble. 3:30 pm. Crowder Hall.  Dec. 5: Fred Fox Graduate Brass Quintet. 7 pm. Holsclaw Hall. Dec. 7: UA Wind Symphony & UA Symphonic Band. 7:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 12: Tucson New Horizons Band. 3:30 pm. Crowder Hall. Dec. 14: String Chamber Music. 7 pm. Holsclaw Hall. 621-3341. Music.arizona.edu.

 

Pima Music Dec. 1 Jazz Ensemble.Also: Dec. 2: Wind Ensemble. Dec. 3: Guitar Ensemble. Dec. 4: Orchestra. Dec. 5: Chorale & College Singers. Dec. 7 & 9: Music Theatre Workshop. PCC Center for the Arts. 206-6986. Pima.edu/arts.

Fox Tucson Theatre Concerts Dec. 3: Ann Hampton Callaway Sings the ’70s. 7:30 pm. Also: Dec. 4: Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn and Sara Watkins (Chasing Rainbows VIP package including dinner available). Dec. 5: Lindsey Buckingham. 7 pm. Dec. 9: Mariachi Sol de Mexico presents José Hernàndez Merry-Achi Christmas. 7:30 pm. Dec. 10: An Irish Christmas. 7:30 pm. Dec. 11: The Robert Cray Band. 7:30 pm. Dec. 17: Pokey LaFarge. 7:30 pm. Dec. 18: In the Christmas Mood — A Holiday Music Spectacular. 7:30 pm. Dec. 19: My Bluegrass Heart, featuring Béla Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Bryan Sutton. 7 pm. 17 W. Congress St.  547-3040. Foxtucson.com.

Tucson Regional Ballet Dec. 4-5 A Southwest Nutcracker re-envisions the classic holiday tale through a lens of Tucson’s past, with coyotes, chile peppers, cavalry soldiers and more. Sat: 2 pm and 7:30 pm; Sun: 2 pm. TCC Music Hall. 886-1222. Tucsonregionalballet.org/#swnutcracker.

Arizona Friends of Chamber Music Dec. 8 The evening series continues with the St. Lawrence String Quartet performing Mozart’s String Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 428, Korngold’s String Quartet No. 3 in D Major, Op. 34, and Franck’s String Quartet in D Major. 7:30 pm. TCC Leo Rich Theater. Arizonachambermusic.org.

Oro Valley Concert Series Dec. 9 The Sheryl Ann Starlight Quartet — consisting of vocalist Sheryl Ann McKinley, pianist Robert Resetar, bassist Jack Wood, and trumpet and sax player Max Goldschmid — will perform works from the Great American Songbook, as well as holiday classics. 6 pm. Oro Valley Marketplace. Saaca.org/ovconcertseries.html.

Pima Dance Dec. 10-11 Fall dance concert, under the direction of Nolan Kubota, and featuring styles ranging from jazz to modern to hip-hop. PCC Center for the Arts. 206-6986. Pima.edu/arts.

Tucson Symphony Orchestra Classic Series Concert Dec. 10, 12 Maestro José Luis Gomez leads the TSO in Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Respighi’s Roman Festivals and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Fri: 7:30 pm; Sun: 2 pm. TCC Music Hall. 882-8585. Tucsonsymphony.org.

UA Dance Dec. 11-12 The theme is Comeback, and this student spotlight will give audiences a chance to see some of the up-and-coming stars of the dance world show their creative prowess in a variety of original works. Stevie Eller Dance Theater. 621-3341. Am.ticketmaster.com/uacfa/buy.

Tucson Girls Chorus Dec. 12 The chorus presents an outdoor holiday concert entitled The Sounds of Winter. 3 pm. Georges DeMeester Performance Center in Reid Park. Tucsongirlschorus.org.

Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus Dec. 18 The group holds their annual holiday concert, which usually includes both seasonal popular songs and hymns. 3 pm and 7:30 pm. UA Crowder Hall. 296-6277. Boyschorus.org.

Rick Braun’s New Year’s Eve Getaway Dec. 30-31 Trumpeter Rick Braun returns to Tucson with a variety of great jazz performers for two days of concerts and activities. The festivities begin on Thursday with a golf tournament and a “Start the Party Early” concert, featuring saxophonist Eric Darius. On New Year’s Eve, the show will include saxophonist Richard Elliot, vocalist Selina Albright, and Braun himself. The evening also will include a sit-down dinner and additional entertainment. Proceeds benefit families affected by autism. JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa. 219-3381. Rickbraunnewyearseve.com.

Close-Ups

Arizona Opera

El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering)

Dec. 11-12

In October 2014, Arizona Opera filled the Music Hall with the sound of mariachis for the brilliantly written and performed Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon). That opera is the story of Laurentino, a father and husband from Michoacan, Mexico, who enters the U.S. to find work to support his family, and then has to remain here and leave his wife and children behind over many years, eventually starting another family in America. Powerful and poignant, the piece cried out for more chapters to its all-too-relevant story.

Now we have the prequel: El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering), with libretto again by Leonard Foglia, and music by Javier Martínez, the son of the composer of Luna. The opera takes up Laurentino’s story from the beginning, when he has first gone to the U.S., and returned to Mexico for a Christmas celebration with his wife Renata. The piece expounds on the conflicts faced by so many looking for work in America, and finding it nearly impossible to divide themselves between two worlds.

The Christmas theme — which is explored in the opera in the form of a pastorella — makes this a perfect work for the holidays, and the relevancy of the story offers some very timely points to ponder without being heavy handed.

If you’ve never heard mariachi music combined with opera motifs, you are certain to be in for a treat with this production.

Temple of Music and Art. 293-4336. AZopera.org.

True Concord Voices & Orchestra

From Anticipation to Joy

Dec. 9-12

Each year, True Concord presents its popular Lessons & Carols by Candlelight, combining traditional carols with newer works that evoke the season. Some of the program will be drawn from the CD, Christmas with True Concord Carols in the American Voice, which includes a number of traditional German, English, and French works, as well as newer pieces such as Russell Schulz-Widmar’s Midnight Clear, and Glenn L. Rudolph’s One Gift. One of the highlights of the 2021 concert will be a new setting by Gerald Near of Christina Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter. English poet Rossetti has had her works adapted as songs before, including Howard Helvey’s version of Love Came Down at Christmas, which also is on the True Concord CD. Her straightforward yet beautiful phrasing of the birth of Christ is a perfect complement to choral music. Thurs: 7:30 pm, St. Philip’s in the Hills; Fri: 7 pm, St. Francis in the Valley; Sat: 7:30 pm, Catalina United Methodist Church; Sun: 3 pm, Catalina United Methodist & 7:30 pm, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church. 401-2651. TrueConcord.org.

Ballet Tucson

The Nutcracker

Dec. 23-26

To complete the holiday season, relax at the TCC Music Hall with a complete, traditional version of Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic, The Nutcracker. Composed in 1892, the ballet was the result of a commission from Ivan Vsevolozhsky, director of the Imperial Theatres. Choreographer Marius Petipa, who also worked on The Sleeping Beauty with Tchaikovsky, picked the material — an adaptation of E.T. A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”

Despite the brilliance of Petipa’s work, the original reception for the ballet in Russia was rather tepid, but Tchaikovsky scored points for his wonderful music, whose melodies are so familiar to us today.

The choreography has been reworked many times over the years, including by Willam Christensen for the San Francisco Ballet and George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet.  Even famed dancers Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov have staged their own versions.

To perform this enchanting work, Ballet Tucson utilizes both their professional dance troupe, and students at Ballet Arts, BT’s school.  Many hours of preparation and training are put in to achieve the seamless productions that audiences have come to expect from the group. With elaborate costumes, and detailed backdrops, this production is a fairytale come to life. TCC Music Hall. 903-1445. ballettucson.org

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding

Dec. 4

Once again, Coop gathers together some of his rock star friends, as well as talented newcomers, for an evening of music and entertainment. Headlining will be Alice and his touring band — Tommy Henriksen, Ryan Roxie, Chuck Garric and Glen Sobel. Also in the mix will be Ed Roland from Collective Soul, Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. The winners of the “Proof is in the Pudding Musical Talent Competition,” the Solid Rock Dancers, and the Bucket Brigade will join the festivities.

One of the great joys of the concert is you never know exactly what will happen. There’s often a jam session with the stage filling with major name musicians, Alice Cooper’s hits to sing along to, and even appearances from members of Coop’s family, such as his lovely wife Sheryl and his son Dash, a musician in his own right.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Solid Rock Teen center, which helps at-risk youth by providing them a safe place to hang out, play video games, and learn music, dance and various aspects of video/music production. 7 pm. Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix Arizona. Alicecoopersolidrock.com/event/christmas-pudding.

Holiday Express

Dec.  18

Gather around the train at this annual, family friendly event at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. Kids can write a letter to Santa with help from the Postal History Museum elves, catch a ride on the Fun Farm choo-choo train, take part in crafts making, and listen to a reading of the Polar Express. There also will be bilingual exhibits, model trains in the AMTRAK station and the museum, a craft show, antique vehicles, holiday music, and pictures with Santa. Parking will be free. 10 am-3 pm. 623-2223. 414 N. Toole Ave. Tucsonhistoricdepot.org.