Local News Matters weekly newsletter
Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.
Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter
End your week with a bit of culture to unwind and refresh. Sign up for our surprising and inspiring options in our weekly newsletter, delivered on Thursdays with news about Bay Area arts and entertainment.
Virtual holiday celebrations continue to spread the cheer, as a variety of musical ensembles and theatrical and comedy troupes offer programs crafted to inject some joy into this troubled season.
Here are a few things happening from Dec. 12 through the end of the year. (For events that start sooner, check out part 1 of our holiday recommendations.)
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts’ “The Muse Hour”: Bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale and singer China Forbes of the Pink Martini ensemble will be featured in a live-streamed holiday concert with music from around the globe at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12. Tickets are $10, and you must register to receive a link at lutherburbankcenter.org or call 707-546-3600.
Christmas at Grace Cathedral: San Francisco’s magnificent church atop Nob Hill is throwing its virtual doors open for three 50-minute concerts from Dec. 12 through Twelfth Night (Jan. 5). “A Cathedral Christmas” features their beloved Choir of Men and Boys, the mixed choir Camerata and music from the mighty 7,466-pipe organ. “Soulful Joy @ Grace” presents Destiny Muhammad and her Sonic Ensemble in a jazz and storytelling program of music by Vince Guaraldi, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and more. “Sing You a Merry Christmas” is a holiday sing-along featuring the toys from St. Nicholas’ workshop, with an option to purchase a special “Play Along Surprise Box” to be mailed to you at home. Tickets are $15-$60 or $100 per family for the first two, $10-$25 adults and $5-$15 children for the sing-along, available at cityboxoffice.com. Patrons will be emailed a link to the streamings on Dec. 10.
“A Very Merola Holiday Recital”: The Merola Opera Program, which operates a summer apprenticeship season for aspiring singers, is presenting some of its alums in a virtual concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 12. Soprano Maria Valdes, mezzo Alice Chung, tenor Casey Candebat, bass-baritone Christian Pursell and pianist/opera coach Ronny Michael Greenberg will perform music by Handel, Puccini, Gounod, Mozart, Rossini and Liszt, mixed in with some holiday favorites. Tickets, $25-$80, are at merola.org and 415-936-2324.
The California Symphony presents “Season in Song:” Conductor Donato Cabrera’s Walnut Creek-based orchestra livestreams on its website at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 and is simultaneously broadcast on WCTV-TV with a program of holiday favorites featuring Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor and standout tenor Nicholas Phan and trumpeters William Harvey and Scott Macomber, French horn player Meredith Brown, principal trombonist Don Benham and principal tuba player Forrest Byram performing as the California Symphony Brass Quintet. Tune in at californiasymphony.org for free a half hour earlier for a conversation with Cabrera and his artists.
“A Virtual Chanticleer Christmas – From Darkness to Light”: The Bay Area’s beloved 12-man a cappella ensemble has reduced its annual multi-city holiday tour to a single concert, but it will begin with their traditional candle-lit processional and remain online from noon Dec. 15 through noon Jan. 1. The men will sing works by Antoine Brumel, Josquin Des Prez and holiday repertoire that includes Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” Tickets, $25-$42, are available at chanticleer.org and 415-252-8589.
“Lu’s Jukebox”: Country singer Lucinda Williams is in the midst of a six-concert streaming session on Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage’s website, and her fifth session, with her full band, is subtitled “Have Yourself a Rockin’ Little Christmas with Lucinda Williams.” It streams at 5 p.m. Dec. 17. Tickets are $20-$40, with CD and vinyl packages available, at 510-644-2020 and at thefreight.org.
Manual Cinema’s “A Christmas Carol”: The Emmy Award-winning theatrical collective from Chicago uses handmade puppets and cinematic techniques to transform the Dickens classic into a happy tale for our tortured times. A holiday-hating woman trapped in her apartment by the pandemic is charged with creating a puppet-show version of the Dickens tale via Zoom for her family, and things get wacky when the puppets come alive. It streams on the Cal Performances at Home series at 5 p.m. Dec. 17, 7 p.m. Dec.18 and 1 p.m. Dec. 19 at calperformances.org for $15 to $60 signups and is also available at live.stanford.edu for free for members of Stanford Live.
San Francisco Girls Chorus presents “Island Holiday”: In place of its usual festive concert in Davies Hall, the Chorus, directed by Valérie Sainte-Agathe, is mounting a virtual program featuring a variety of music from the Caribbean, some holiday favorites and two new commissioned works — Puerto Rican composer Angélica Negrón’s “Cosecha” and Matthew Welch’s choral-opera “Tomorrow’s Memories.” It takes place for free at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 on the group’s YouTube channel, accessible through sfgirlschorus.org, but please consider making a donation.
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus presents “(At) Home for the Holidays”: The ensemble, founded in 1978, is replacing its usual seasonal appearance at the Castro Theatre with a joyous virtual celebration at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. You can expect some unusual modern twists on some old holiday favorites, Tickets are $25; sign up at sfgmc.org.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy: The 28th annual version of this beloved comedy show features, for this year, the subtitle “Jewish Comedy on Christmas Eve in a (Virtual) Chinese Restaurant.”
Comedians Lisa Geduldig, Alex Edelman and Judy Gold will be up to the usual shenanigans, which begin streaming through Zoom and YouTube at 5 p.m. Dec. 24, with repeat performances at 5 p.m. Christmas Day and 2 p.m. Dec. 26. Tickets, $25-$50, are at koshercomedy.com or 415-522-3737.
Cal Performances at Home presents “New Year’s Eve Musical Celebration”: All throughout the UC Berkeley-based arts organization’s virtual fall series, the great variety of singers, recitalists, jazz artists and chamber groups participating have prepared especially chosen musical selections to help us ring out the bad old year and usher in a more hopeful new one. Tickets are $15-$98 for this one-night-only event, streaming through calperformances.org at 8 p.m. Dec. 31.