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Holiday Concerts, Both Traditional And Non-Traditional

El Vez, the

Credit: Courtesy photo

Above: El Vez, the "Mexican Elvis," will once again perform his holiday show at The Casbah on December 22, 2012.

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It wouldn't be the holiday season without a little holiday music ... which may or may not be music to one's ears. And holiday concerts abound in San Diego, including some unconventional options for those who may be tired of the season's usual fare.

U-T San Diego pop music critic George Varga rounds up many of the eclectic holiday concerts coming to town this month. He and Kate Hatmaker, violinist with the San Diego Symphony and executive and artistic director of Art of Élan, share some of their holiday concert picks with KPBS Midday Edition:

New York-based drummer Matt Wilson has been recognized by The New York Times as "easily one of the best drummers of his generation." He has serious jazz skills, but he also has a sense of humor when it comes to holiday music. Hear him play his own creative jazz renditions of holiday favorites, both expected and unexpected (for example, "The Chipmunk Song" and "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"), with his Christmas Tree-O on Friday, December 7, at the Athenaeum Studio on Park in University Heights. (Check out the NPR Tiny Desk Concert video below to get a sneak preview.)

It wouldn't be the holidays without Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," and there are many different productions to choose from. California Ballet presents its version with a live orchestra, December 15-16 (featuring musicians from Orchestra Nova), and then December 19-23 (with the San Diego Symphony), at the Civic Theatre in downtown San Diego.

El Vez, the "Mexican Elvis," may just be the hardest working man in show biz. But he's so much more than your run-of-the-mill Elvis impersonator, penning his own inventive covers and original songs. El Vez (the stage name of Chula Vista-native Robert Lopez) once again brings his annual "Merry Mex-Mas" holiday show to The Casbah on Saturday, December 22, where he will perform his own tongue-in-cheek holiday songs, such as "Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown," "Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?" and "Brown Christmas." Costume changes and the dancing Elvettes also included.

For an Irish-fueled holiday celebration, the San Diego Symphony presents "Holiday Pops: A Celtic Celebration" December 21-23, at Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego. GRAMMY Award-winning and nine-time all-Ireland fiddle champion Eileen Ivers will join the Symphony to perform some of the Emerald Isle's favorite holiday tunes. On December 23, the Symphony presents the kid-friendly "Family Festival" and "Home for the Holidays," honoring members of the military and their families.

The 23rd annual Carols by Candlelight happens Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8, at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. This year's featured performers are B.J. Thomas, Collin Raye, Buck Howdy, Mary James and Eve Selis. Proceeds benefit Rady Children's Hospital.

SACRA / PROFANA presents “Messiah," its first production of Handel's masterpiece, Sunday, December 9, at the Bob Burton Center for the Performing Arts in Fallbrook. The concert, featuring excerpts from Parts I, II and III, is directed by Krishan Oberoi with a professional orchestra led by violinist Kate Hatmaker of the San Diego Symphony.

Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O: Tiny Desk Concert


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