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San Diego Weekend Arts Events: Short Stories, Christmas Jazz, Tchaikovsky And Americana

A jazz quartet featuring Gilbert Castellanos, Joshua White, John Murray and T...

Credit: Courtesy of San Diego Symphony

Above: A jazz quartet featuring Gilbert Castellanos, Joshua White, John Murray and Tyler Kreutel performs (with COVID protections in place) on the Copley Symphony Hall stage for a streamed concert on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020.

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Get festive while getting a little culture this weekend with local art. Our virtual picks include jazz with the Symphony, a literary story concert, Hershey Felder's updated spin on Tchaikovsky, ... Read more →

Aired: December 18, 2020 | Transcript

It's a wild and heady thing to officially be in late December of 2020. We are contending with a worsening pandemic, holiday uncertainty and that indistinct but generally unsettling year-end-list feeling. Even though we can't go out to see art in order to escape or find some sort of context (and a dive bar Christmas-themed cocktail), the art can still come to you.

My virtual picks for the arts this weekend include jazz with the Symphony, a literary story concert, Hershey Felder's updated, cinematic spin on Tchaikovsky, and an Americana Christmas. Plus, catch an impressive show of sculptural works by Tom Driscoll in the appointment-only ICE Gallery before it closes. Here are all the details.

The San Diego Symphony: 'I'll Be Jazzed For Christmas'

Music, Jazz

A special virtual presentation of the Jazz @ The Jacobs series, the Symphony will host a quartet of some of San Diego's jazz favorites. Gilbert Castellanos, who is the artistic curator of the series, will lead the group on trumpet, with Joshua White on piano, John Murray on bass and Tyler Kreutel on drums. They'll play some quintessential Vince Guaraldi Trio festive work (spoiler: "Christmas Time Is Here"), plus a tour through some jazz takes on pop favorites and classic carols. They'll also perform some of their own improvisations and arrangements.

Details: Sunday at 7 p.m. Online. Free (registration required).

More free Symphony events: (The Symphony is bringing it this weekend.) "Noel Noel" is a star-studded variety show, featuring ensembles from the San Diego Symphony, Jason Mraz, actor and singer Storm Lever, photographer and artist Scott Rad Brown, City Ballet's Reka Gyulai and the vocal chops of San Diego Master Chorale and San Diego Children's Choir. Get a hefty dose of stories, traditional music, sugar plum dances, and a popular Christmas music singalong. Friday at 7 p.m. Free.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Write Out Loud

Members of Write Out Loud will stream story performances for the holidays beginning Thursday through January 6, 2021.

Write Out Loud: Giving Season 2020

Literature, Storytelling, Poetry

I appreciate anything that champions the short story, and Write Out Loud will deliver the bite-sized holiday storytime straight to your living room (or your airpods). The group's actors will perform six holiday-themed short works of literature. They're calling this a "story concert"; expect some more theatrics than your standard read-aloud voice. The pieces include "Christmas Day in the Morning" by Pearl S. Buck, Patricia Polacco's Hanukkah story "The Trees of the Dancing Goats," Robert Louis Stevenson's beautiful seafaring poem "Christmas at Sea," and more. It's a free, all-ages performance, and streams on demand throughout the holiday season.

Details: Thursday through January 6. Online. Free.

Hershey Felder: ‘Tchaikovsky – Live From Florence’

Theater, Film

The ever-prolific theatrical biographer and performer Hershey Felder presents a virtual production of his 2017 play, "Tchaikovsky," which premiered at the San Diego REP. This version, however, is filmed in Florence and expands upon the original script. Florence is notable as a home for the esteemed composer after fleeing Russia following a failed marriage — Tchaikovsky is known by historians to have been gay, and Felder's script explores the homophobia and fear Tchaikovsky endured in Russia. This special presentation features music by the composer, including ballets like "Swan Lake," "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Nutcracker," as well as the lush "Symphony No. 6 Pathétique." The production promises to be indulgently packed with story and plenty of wanderlust-inducing travel inspo.

Details: Sunday at 5 p.m. Online. $55.

A Berkley Hart Christmas Special


Local folk and Americana duo of Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart are here to grace your festive weekend with some lo-fi stylings. The program is in the form of a Christmas TV special, and will feature some special guests. It's viewable on demand and hosted by Poway OnStage. Once you've bought your ticket, you can watch it any time between now and the end of the month.

Listen to "Silent Night," from their 2014 holiday album, "A Berkley Hart Christmas."

Details: Streams on demand now through Dec. 31. $15.

More popular music:

Folk not your thing? Metalachi is a heavy-metal-meets-mariachi cover band, and they're playing a virtual holiday set from the Belly Up on Saturday at 7 p.m. $15.

Heavy-metal-meets-mariachi cover bands not your thing? Singer-songwriter Whitney Shay performs with guests (a very Ed Kornhauser-esque Santa on the piano) in a special holiday show from the Avant Garde Music Co — a music school and recording studio based in Chula Vista, Sunday at 7 p.m. Free.

Photo credit: Courtesy ICE Gallery

Artist Tom Driscoll's work is on view now at ICE Gallery.

Closing Soon: Tom Driscoll at ICE Gallery

Visual art

ICE Gallery, part of the Bread and Salt complex, will soon close their Tom Driscoll exhibition. Much of the work is 15 years old but has never been exhibited until now. Driscoll's sculptures are evocative and colorful, and they seemingly defy physics. Driscoll — who studied with John Baldessari and Bob Matheny at Southwestern College in the late 1960s — has built an impressive reputation and body of work, and these pieces don't always translate to a two-dimensional viewing online.

The space is open for individual appointment viewings, which has been the gallery's model since the pre-pandemic days — the easiest approach is to DM gallery owner Michael James Armstrong on Instagram, but you can also use the contact form on the gallery's website. Plus, ICE is notable for its two large arched windows from the street, and you can get a sense of the exhibition by peeking through from the sidewalk.

Details: By appointment, closing Saturday. 1955 Julian Ave, Logan Heights. Free.

RELATED: San Diego’s Top Holiday Arts Events: 2020 Edition

For more arts events, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar here, or sign up for our weekly arts newsletter here.

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Julia Dixon Evans
Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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