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I’ll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me.
But then again, so will most of the rest of us, as the pandemic has us more or less pinned in place for now.
But COVID-19 can’t kill the holiday spirit, as the dozens of celebratory events planned by arts and entertainment presenters all around the Bay Area can attest.
Here is a roundup of some of them — many beloved staples returning this year in formats transformed for our social-distancing enjoyment — featuring those starting now through Dec. 11. Come back next week for our list of virtual holiday celebrations from Dec. 12 and beyond.
Glide Memorial’s “Rise Up for Change”: That beacon of goodness and charity in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, Glide Memorial Church, is going virtual for the first time with its annual holiday fundraising jam. Hosted by the “Voice of the San Francisco Giants” Renel Brooks-Moon, the event kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday and features performances by Indie.Arie, Joan Baez, Tom Johnston, Michal Franti, Goapele, Ledisi, Lisa Fischer, D’Wayne Wiggins, Glide Ensemble & The Change Band and more. Sign up for free at glide.org/holidayjam and be prepared to help them meet their $1.5 million goal.
The San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker Online”: Clara, the Nutcracker, the Mouse King and Herr Drosselmeyer return to the stage in a new, high-def recorded performance that will include a virtual tour of the War Memorial Opera House, some downloadable treats and a visit, if you’d like, to the Ballet’s online holiday shop. Streaming begins at noon Nov. 27 and continues through Dec. 31. Your $49 ticket will get you access for 48 hours. www.sfballet.org.
“It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play on Zoom”: George Bailey famously wrestles with his conscience on Christmas Eve, and Clarence the angel lends a helping wing in this production from Contra Costa Civic Theatre. It streams at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from Nov. 27 to Dec. 20, with links emailed on the day of performance. Ticket packages are $20-$50, available at ccct.org.
Opera San Jose presents “Three Decembers”: No less a superstar than mezzo-soprano Susan Graham takes the main role in this 90-minute staging of Jake Heggie’s work about famed opera star Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children’s encounters on three holiday occasions over a 20-year period. OSJ resident artists soprano Maya Kherani and baritone Efraín Solís also star. Streaming begins Dec. 3 with a gala performance that will include a post-show discussion with Graham, Heggie and the rest of the artistic team. Tickets are $50 for the entire gala, or $40 without the post-show event, and access will remain available for a limited time. www.operasj.org or 408-437-4450.
American Conservatory Theater’s “A Christmas Carol: On Air”: Actor James Carpenter will be back bah-humbugging it as Ebenezer Scrooge, he as been for many years, but the 45th version of the company’s production of the Dickens tale will be a radio play running from Dec. 4-31. Most of the rest of the cast will be there, and the opening night performance at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 and a special 6 p.m. Dec. 23 performance will feature a virtual lobby and pre- and post-show interactions with the cast. Tickets, $40-$60, are available at www.act-sf.org or 415-749-2228.
San Francisco Symphony’s “Deck the Hall”: The 40th anniversary of the holiday special, hosted by conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, is a program of seasonal music and sing-alongs, including selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” NBC anchor Raj Mathai narrates Harry Simeone’s “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and members of the Symphony Chorus and the San Francisco Boys Chorus sing. The concert goes online and will be broadcast at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 5 on NBC Bay Area, repeating at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6 on Telemundo 48, and will remain available for streaming at sf symphony.org.
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir 35th Annual Holiday Concert: Artistic director Terrance Kelly once again assembles his family of choirs from around the Bay Area for this now-traditional uplifting of holiday spirits through song. Actor-comedian playwright Don Reed hosts and guest artist JaCoree sings in a Zoom concert that features a pre-show performance by Kelly at 6 p.m. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets, $10-$75, are available at www.oigc.org/oigc35.