December has arrived and brought a wealth of holiday productions to the Bay Area - let’s take a look at a selection of what’s on offer.
The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa has a full week of productions. On December 3, America’s favorite holiday celebration for the past 25 years makes its first appearance in Santa Rosa, as Grammy Award-winner Chip Davis presents a show featuring the Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller, with dazzling multimedia effects.
Angelina Ballerina The Musical follows on December 4. Based on the CG-animated series, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps - as featured on PBS KIDS® - this musical treat has Angelina and her friends in a state of high excitement as they prepare to show off their dancing skills - which include hip-hop, modern dance, and the Irish jig, as well as ballet - to a famous visitor to Camembert Academy.
The Rodney Strong Vineyards Dance Series presents Posada Navideña on December 6. Featuring the folk culture of Mexico and its unique customs, this traditional holiday presentation portrays the “Pastorela” (pilgrimage) made by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Christ. Traditional Mexican folkloric dances and music are performed by dancers and musicians from Sacramento’s renowned Compañia Mazatlán Bellas Artes.
Multi-talented entertainer, George Lopez, takes to the stage on December 7. With a career which encompasses television, film, standup comedy and late-night television, he was the host of Lopez Tonight which ran for two seasons on TBS, and also the co-creator, writer, producer and star of Warner Bros Television’s hit sitcom George Lopez, which ran for six seasons on ABC.
The San Francisco Symphony gets the first week of its holiday program off to a swinging start as America’s best-selling jazz instrumentalist returns to Davies Symphony Hall. Grammy award-winning trumpeter, Chris Botti - with the Symphony, conducted by Steven Reineke - presents two evenings of sophisticated sounds and jazz classics on December 4 and 5.
For more information, tickets and a video clip, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
On December 6 and 7 the SF Symphony accompanies a screening of Stanley Donen’s classic Hollywood musical, Singin' in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. See Kelly twirl his umbrella and splash through the puddles in one of the most famous song and dance sequences in cinema history, as the Symphony - conducted by Sarah Hicks - turns a night at the movies into a dazzling night out in the city at Davies Symphony Hall.
Visit the San Francisco Symphony website for details, a video clip and information on tickets.
The San Francisco Symphony presents Music for Families on December 7 - a program in which members of the Orchestra demonstrate to the audience how a performance is put together. Under the direction of Edwin Outwater, the musicians show how - even though they practice alone - they rehearse together, making sure that the end result delivers a great performance.
On December 8, the Symphony, along with its special guests, presents the traditional festive holiday concert - Deck the Halls - with a program of favorites chosen specifically with children in mind. This event is more than just a concert though, for Davies Symphony Hall will be transformed into a holiday wonderland, with decorated trees, interactive games, craft activities, entertainers, festive treats, and lots more.
For further details, timings and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Symphony website
Father On is the title of a presentation by Scott Wells and Sheldon B Smith at the ODC Theater from December 5 to 8. It’s a dance about 21st century fatherhood and explores the joys and complexities of being a father in a two-income earner household. Described as “Deliriously funny” by Alan Ulrich, in Voice of Dance, Father On approaches the conflicting theories of parenting with curiosity and dark humor.
For further information and tickets, see the ODC website.
RAWDance presents a world premiere at the Joe Goode Annex from December 6 to 8. Mine - a work for five dancers - is an exploration of the human urge to control life, and our impulse to possess. Taking place in an elevated playground of ropes - designed by Sean Riley - Mine features an original score by Joel St Julien, with lighting design by Jim French and costumes by Mary Domenico. Criticaldance.com writes of the company’s “Experimental work done brilliantly”, and SF Magazine of “Mesmerizing, venue-bending productions”.
The Santa Rosa Symphony presents Contemplation of Peace and War at the Green Music Center’s Weill Concert Hall this week. Bruno Ferrandis conducts the Orchestra in a program which features Leopold Mozart’s delightful Toy Symphony, Bernstein’s Symphony No 1 - based on the lamentations of biblical prophet Jeremiah - and Haydn’s Mass No 10, Mass in Time of War. Featuring soprano Jenni Samuleson, mezzo-soprano Christine Brandes, tenor Brian Thorsett, and Philip Skinner, bass-baritone, with the Santa Rosa Symphony Honor Choir, the performances take place on December 7, 8 and 9. The special edition recording of Santa Rosa Symphony Live in Performance in Weill Hall at the Green Music Center will be on sale.
The Bay Area’s Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet celebrates its 40th birthday at a concert at Zellerbach Hall on December 7. The program features premieres of works by Philip Glass and Terry Riley, and Kronos will also perform the composition which gave rise to the founding of the ensemble - George Crumb’s Black Angels, a work inspired by the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Special guests also include the Pacific Boychoir - director Kevin Fox - pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and indie rock guitarist Bryce Dessner of rock band, The National, in a performance of his recently released 2009 commission, Aheym.
For more information and tickets, please visit the Cal Performances website.
Women’s vocal ensemble, Kitka, opens its annual Wintersongs tour on December 8. The group’s winter holiday program showcases seasonal music from a wide range of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions, and this year is subtitled A World Unknown, as it features a new element, folk polyphony, from the American South. The phrase A World Unknown is drawn from the lyrics of Idumea, an 18th-century hymn from the American Sacred Harp tradition. Kitka’s performance will also include a song from the mountainous Epirus region of Northern Greece, as well as another new offering - a song from the Bosnian-Muslim ganga tradition which captures the spirit of families reuniting to sing during the holidays.
Five concerts are scheduled between December 8 and 21, at venues in Jenner, Oakland, Point Reyes Station, Menlo Park and San Francisco, and the tour concludes in Oakland on December 22 with Kitka’s popular Wintersongs Community Sing.
Tickets are more information are available online at Kitka.org or by calling 510.444.0323.