Throughout the holiday season, Los Angeles will be adorned with the symbolic colors of red, green and gold to symbolize Christian belief. Carolers will roam popular tourist sites, bellowing songs that are aimed to lift spirits and promote hope for the future. And, from December 16-24, those of Jewish faith will observe in celebratory fashion the Festival of Lights, as they kindle a menorah on each night of Hanukkah. In metro L.A., home to many religious and ethnic groups, festive concerts will be in abundance and well attended. Here are a select few that promise to exemplify the region’s strapping musical heritage and flush cultural pluralism.
Judy Collins: Holiday and Hits
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Date: Dec. 6, 2014 – 8 p.m.
Acclaimed songstress and songwriter Judy Collins promises to spread lots of cheer when she brings her eclectic repertoire and angelic singing voice to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. At age 75, the piano prodigy continues to captivate audiences with her insatiable blend of show tunes, standards, rock and roll, pop, Irish ballads and folk music. Even in a venue that seats 2,000, the beloved guitarist has a charming way of presenting an intimate setting by peppering her unforgettable song selections with anecdotes about her glorious musical career, which started in 1959. In addition to performing songs of the season, the silvery-tongued soprano will introduce some of her newer works in a spirit-boosting show designed for the whole family.
Christmas Concert Series
Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Date: Held from Dec. 18 – 21, 2014
A 36-year holiday tradition continues when an estimated 20,000 celebrants attend Grace Community Church’s four-day concert run. Under the direction of Dr. Clayton Erb, the non-denominational institution’s music ministry presents an inspirational performance by some of the nation’s more revered faith-based singers and musicians. Leading guest artists include such accomplished professionals as international operatic tenor Philip Webb, mezzo-soprano Carmella Jones and baritone Jubilant Sykes, a global sensation. The mega-church’s wondrous 120-member worship choir and its plaudit-worthy orchestra round out this popular and free festivity that attracts families of all beliefs and cultural leanings.
Brian Setzer Orchestra: Christmas Rocks
Nokia Theater Live
777 Chick Hearn Court
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Date: Dec. 21, 2014 at 8 p.m.
Three-time Grammy Award-winning performing artist Brian Setzer is slated to bring his smooth-as-honey voice and vigorous theatrics to Nokia Theater Live in a single-night engagement. The acclaimed guitarist, singer and songwriter reached spotlighting fame in the early 1980s as a member of Stray Cats, a rockabilly group. In the late 1990s, the multi-talented showman formed the Brian Setzer Orchestra, a forceful swing and jump blues band he fronts. For the past decade, Setzer’s “Christmas Rocks” concert has become a yuletide go-see for locals and tourists, especially families that like to sing along. Watching Setzer perform such guitar classics as “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” is undoubtedly a stocking-stuffing experience not to miss.
The Klezmatics: Happy Joyous Hanukkah
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Date: Dec. 22, 2014 – 8 p.m.
To celebrate the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Klezmatics will bring their Grammy Award-winning musical perfection to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a well-anticipated show. The sextet is best known for its virtuosic ability to sing in several languages. The mix-gendered group blends standard Yiddish tunes with contemporary music of varied origins, including Latin, Celtic, Afro-Caribbean and folk. Within the past quarter-century, these well-versed performing artists have also recorded songs in Aramaic and Bavarian, making their joyful concerts a favorite among a wide variety of cultures. The group’s homage to the rich musical heritage of the Ashkenaizi Jews of Eastern Europe is an applause-worthy event for music lovers of any age and ethnic diversity.
55th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Date: Dec. 24, 2014 – 3 p.m.
On Christmas Eve, thousands of music enthusiasts will be attending a jubilee at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a 3,197-seat performing arts center. Since 1959, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission has provided a magnificent stage for a number of the region’s more dynamic choirs and musical ensembles. Featured artisans represent both the metro area’s ever-expanding cultural landscape and a cornucopia of holiday traditions. The three-hour program, televised live on local public television, will be viewed by one million households throughout Southern California. This free extravaganza has been known to fill quickly to capacity, so arrive early and expect to be thrilled.
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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.