Thursday 21

A CAPELLA CAROLING. The Arizona Repertory Singers hope to have something for everyone in a program called Sing We Joy.

Traditional Spanish carols and lush pieces by contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen are among the selections for two concerts. In case you're wondering, the program also includes holiday favorites, I Wonder as I Wander, Victoria's O magnum mysterium and Carol of the Bells.

Jeffry Jahn directs Southern Arizona's premier a cappella ensemble in the concert that begins at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow at Mission San Xavier del Bac, 1950 W. San Xavier Road. Suggested donation is $12. For more information, call 792-8141.

HAPPY HANUKKAH. A menorah-lighting ceremony takes place each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a Jewish celebration of the victory of "the few over the many, the weak over the mighty, and the righteous over the wicked."

Hanukkah commemorates the triumph of the Maccabees over the Syrians in 165 B.C. The political and religious sovereignty of Israel was reestablished and the Temple of Jerusalem cleansed of idols and pagan sacrifices.

The tradition of Hanukkah begins with the sacred menorah, which was kept burning in the Jerusalem Temple at all times.

Jewish texts teach that when the Temple was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks, very little oil for the candelabrum could be found. Enough oil for just a single day miraculously lasted eight days. That legend is marked by the lighting of special 8-branched lamps, chanukiot, every night of Hanukkah. The custom has given the holiday another name, "Festival of Lights."

The public is invited to tonight's lighting, at 5:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road, just north of Broadway Boulevard. Tomorrow, the lighting is at 7:45 p.m., before Shabbat services. You can also share in the ceremony December 23 through 28 at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 327-4501.

Friday 22

SWINGIN' POPS. Big Band favorites bring back big memories in the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's first pops concert of the season.

Guest artists Five by Design will draw from the spirit of Glenn Miller, the Modernaires and the Pied Pipers for the orchestra's three performances of Swingin' Winter's Evening. Family traditions of attending religious services, exchanging gifts and reuniting are reflected in the selections.

Five by Design singers Lorie Carpenter-Niska, Catherine Farr, Kurt Niska, Michael Swedberg and Terrence Niska promise to perform with wit, humor and authenticity.

Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Silent Night and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer make the evening a great family outing. The orchestra, conducted by George Hanson, also will perform Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride and Georges Bizet's Carillon from L'Arlesienne.

Original compositions round out the performances.

The first performance begins at 7:30 tonight. A matinee tomorrow begins at 2:30 p.m., followed tomorrow evening by the final show, at 7:30.

All performances are at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 220 S. Church Ave. Tickets are $13 to $32 and are available by calling 882-8585, or by visiting the TSO box office at 2175 N. Sixth Ave., south of Grant Road. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster (321-1000), Robinsons-May stores and Wherehouse Music.

MADMEN AND MERRIMENT. Circus art fused with dance and theater results in Flam-Chen Pyrotechnic Theatre Spectacle.

Toybox is Flam-Chen's latest blazing offering. In the spirit of Coppélia and The Nutcracker, it's a tale of dolls, madmen, betrayal and revolution, set to a score by Molehill.

Voted the Weekly's best performing artists 2000, the Tucson-based troupe is a rotating cast of six to 10 Flam-Chenistas who juggle, swing Balinese chains, and twirl staffs. If that's not enough, performers also use fire fans and flaming hula hoops in the originally choreographed performances.

Flam-Chen performances usually take place outdoors, the sets often incorporating trapeze and elaborate rigging and scaffolding.

Toybox, though, will be performed at Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 to $10. For more information, call 745-9175.

Saturday 23

SADDLE UP. All right, so you'll probably have to drive, and don't forget your coat, but Arizona's official state balladeer will make a trip to Ramsey Canyon worth the effort.

The Arizona Folklore Preserve and the University of Arizona South present Dolan Ellis in An Arizona Christmas, an unusual musical and photographic program.

Storytelling and photography complement the balladeer's songs. His performance includes Cowboy's Christmas, an original ballad of Christmas Eve on the Sonoran Desert. He'll sing a wonderful, if obscure, 1908 ballad of an Arizona ranch family's Christmas homecoming called Ridin' Up That Christmas Trail to You.

The Arizona Folklore Preserve is located in Ramsey Canyon, just south of Sierra Vista. Old sycamores and cottonwoods canopy the 1920s cottage where the show will be held. The cottage is decorated with pine bows and mistletoe, and hot cider and cookies will be available.

At 5,300 feet it may be a bit chilly, so dress warm.

A donation of $8 per person is requested for the program, which begins at 2 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 378-6165, or e-mail reservations to

Directions: Go 6 miles south of Sierra Vista on Highway 92. Turn right on Ramsey Canyon Road. Go 3.5 miles to the entrance.

Sunday 24

ALL YE FAITHFUL. Communion and ringers and singers are part of two days of services at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church.

The church's youngest choir, the Cherub Singers, will perform at a children's service at 4 p.m. today, kicking off six services.

Las Campanillas, a handbell choir directed by Allyn Baker, performs at family services at 5:30, 9 and 11 p.m. All family services will begin with a concert of holiday music.

A candlelight Eucharist is at 7 p.m. The Canterbury Choir and St. Philip's Ringers will perform.

A Christmas Day service at 11 a.m. wraps up the holiday schedule with a small choir and traditional carols.

Communion will be celebrated at all services, which are open to the public. Doors open 15 minutes before the start of each service. St. Philip's is located at 4440 N. Campbell Road, at the intersection of Campbell and River roads. For more information, call 299-6421.

Monday 25

COSMIC CHRISTMAS. Don't look now. At least not without proper eyewear.

At 9:31 this morning, Southern Arizonans on the lookout will see the new moon appear to take a bite out of the sun's disk in a partial eclipse.

Flandrau Science Center will host a limited solar viewing starting at 8:15 a.m. You can buy your eclipse glasses at the center's science store.

To get a bit deeper into space, check out the Flandrau Planetarium's Holiday Skies: A Christmas Story, and Clouds of Fire: The Origins of Stars. For the kids, the planetarium has scheduled an extra showing on December 26 of Our Place in Space and Planet Patrol.

The Flandrau Science Center is located at 1601 E. University Blvd., on the UA campus at the northeast corner of University and Cherry Avenue. For information about the solar viewing, or about planetarium show times and ticket prices, call 621-7827.

Tuesday 26

STRUNG OUT. Already wondering about those Christmas bills jingling your way? Looking for something to do today that doesn't include spending even more money?

Quit scheming ways to off your in-laws (for fun or profit), get your butt off the couch and take a look around. All that glitters isn't necessarily a gold Visa or some piece of crap department store jewelry. You probably should have noticed by now, but beautiful lights are twinkling all over the Old Pueblo.

Winterhaven's always a big draw, of course, but plenty of residents throughout the city are plugged in for the Christmas season. And of course, some lights never go out. Just look up. Close your wallet and open your eyes.

Wednesday 27

WALK IT OFF. Shed a few holiday pounds and check out the beauty of Sabino Canyon at night.

Hikers interested in Sabino Starry Night meet at the canyon's ramada every Wednesday for the 7.5-mile round trip to the top.

No cell phones or pagers, please. Bring a flashlight if you want, but use it only in an emergency. The whole point is to reconnect with nature.

The free hikes are sponsored by the Sierra Club and Southern Arizona Hiking Club. For more information, call 577-2444.

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