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Holiday Harmony

TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular
7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21 and 22; 2 P.M., Sunday, Dec. 23
TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.
882-8585; tucsonsymphony.org

Music, dance and comedy will be combined for the TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular, an annual holiday treat and Tucson tradition.

The Tucson Symphony Orchestra will host the event, offering three chances to see the performance this weekend. "It's very visual and exciting," says TSO public relations manager Terry Marshall. "It's also representative of the Southwest."

Joining the orchestra will be the TSO Chorus, the Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School and the Tucson Regional Ballet--all under the baton of guest conductor Michael Hall.

"He revamped the concerts last year, and they were a huge success, so we had to have him back," Marshall says of Hall. "He infused some new energy in it."

Hall is an accomplished conductor, having worked with some of the best ensembles in North America. He will be directing classics like "Away in a Manger," "The 12 Days of Christmas" and "Sleigh Ride" during the concert.

Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, performing at the spectacular, comprises 15 students from Pueblo High Magnet School students.

The two-hour event will also include a comedy sketch featuring KOLD Channel 13 meteorologist Chuck George--and Santa Claus himself!

Tickets start at $20 and are available at the TSO box office, located at 2175 N. Sixth Ave., over the phone at 882-8585 or online at tucsonsymphony.org. --D.P.


Volunteers Perform a Holiday Favorite

A Time to Dance Youth Ballet presents 'The Nutcracker'
7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21; 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22
Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd.
320-1566; www.atimetodancetucson.com

A Time to Dance Youth Ballet is putting on their rendition of holiday favorite The Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21, and at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22.

A Time to Dance Studio began in 1996 offering an alternative to high-cost dance classes. As a result, many fine dancers have been developed in a nurturing atmosphere.

The studio welcomes dancers of all shapes, sizes and skill level. This year's performance of The Nutcracker will be performed by a cast and crew of volunteers, ranging in ages from 3 to 70. The event will feature creative techniques and extravagant costumes, according to a press release.

The Nutcracker, a Russian ballet by Tchaikovsky, is a classic. It includes well-known musical pieces like the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, made unique by the use of celesta, an instrument the composer loved. The beloved story is about a little girl and a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve. Katie Enright will play the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Drosselmeyer will be performed by Dee Dee Doell, the company's artistic director.

The Nutcracker has been performed for nearly a century, and its holiday theme lends itself perfectly to a day or night of family fun.

Tickets are $7.50 in advance or $10 at the event. To buy tickets, call the number listed above. --D.P.


Under the Soil

Set in Stone: 2,000 Years of Gem and Mineral Trade in the Southwest
Exhibit Opens Friday, Dec. 21
Arizona State Museum, University Boulevard and Park Avenue
621-6302, statemuseum.arizona.edu

The lineage of 2,000 years of Southwestern trade in gems and minerals--up to the Gem and Mineral Show of today--will be documented by a new Arizona State Museum exhibit, Set In Stone. The history of the trade will come to light in a collection of mineral samples, photographs, recordings, jewelry and mining tools.

The initial idea for the exhibit, as first developed a couple of years ago by archaeologist Su Benaron, was to focus on the use of minerals throughout Southwestern history. However, the exhibit has now evolved to focus on jewelry as an expression of those minerals' uses.

"Turquoise, traded extensively into Central Mexico from the Southwest among civilizations, has made turquoise Mexico's most treasured mineral," says Arthur Vokes, an exhibit co-curator.

Visitors to the exhibit will begin by exploring the routes, materials and technologies that formed the earliest known trade systems. The exhibit then delves into the myths and the truths about how riches brought Spanish, Mexicans and Americans to the region.

"Prehistorically, trade routes linked Central Mexico with the Southwest and indirectly connected routes to the coast of Western Mexico," says Vokes. "From here, traders who ran up and down the West Coast back to Peru and Ecuador were coming up north to get colorful shells. These people brought knowledge on metal work like copper and, eventually, gold," says Vokes.

Admission is a $3 suggested donation. The gallery is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.; it's closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. --J.W.


Tucson's Very Own Festivus!

Festivus at the Loft Cinema
9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22
Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
795-0844; loftcinema.com

We've heard about it for years, thanks to Seinfeld reruns--a Festivus for the rest of us! And finally, Festivus has come to the Old Pueblo.

The folks at the Loft Cinema are hosting the event, and they've got a special night planned, full of original Festivus activities (straight from the Festivus guide book that Loft program director Jeff Yanc purchased), as well as some fun additions. The extravaganza kicks off at 9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22.

The evening will include clips from the Seinfeld episode which explains the roots of the Festivus celebration, which includes a Feats of Strength contest, a Bad Holiday Sweater Parade, an Airing of Grievances and a gift exchange--just make sure that your gift is something you wouldn't want to receive.

Yanc says this is Tucson's first official Festivus: "We always like to do something for the holidays; we thought it was time. No one else has done it. It will be in the spirit of Seinfeld, but we added some stuff. ... That's the cool thing about a Festivus: You can make it your own. You can freestyle a bit."

The activities will also include a rare collection of the "best of the worst" TV specials and holidays movies, and at 10 p.m., there will be a showing of the classic Bill Murray film Scrooged.

Yanc says he's most excited about the Airing of Grievances session, at which everyone is welcome to unleash the year's demons--and most importantly, diminish the extremity of their own problems.

"I don't think people get the chance to publicly express their rage in a fun setting," Yanc says. "It's a good message for the holidays: Someone always has it worse than you."

Tickets are $7 for the whole Festivus, or $5 for Scrooged only. --D.P.

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