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Arts & Culture

San Diego Weekend Arts Events: Kathryn Schulmeister, Nutcracker Tea Party, Parol Festival and more

Bassist Kathryn Schulmeister will perform at the Museum of Making Music on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.
Tiange Zhou
Bassist Kathryn Schulmeister will perform at the Museum of Making Music on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021.

This weekend in the arts: double bass, a family-friendly "Nutcracker," unconventional (and affordable) art, Parol Festival, "Miracle on 34th Street," and ballet and opera at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion Christmas Concert.

The San Diego Sound Project: Kathryn Schulmeister

San Diego double bassist Kathryn Schulmeister will explore the broad ranging potential of the bass in this program, with a mix of contemporary, experimental and traditional compositions. She'll perform with soprano Jasper Sussman, pianist Nick Sanders and drummer Julien Cantelm.

I recently watched — and was absolutely transfixed by — this video of Schulmeister performing a series of short compositions, "[d(k_s)b]" and "[k(d_b)s]" by Joan Arnau Pàmies. It's baffling that any of that technical wizardry could somehow be transcribed on a sheet of music.

Schulmeister also revealed in a recent discussion with the Museum of Making Music that she'll perform a piece with Sussman called "In Old Virginny," by contemporary composer Shawn Jaeger, which was inspired by Southern Appalachian folk music. You'll also hear some arrangements of Debussy and plenty more.


Details: Friday at 7 p.m. Museum of Making Music, 5790 Armada Dr., Carlsbad. $20, or a free livestream.

Nutcracker Tea Party

There are lots of opportunities for "The Nutcracker" performances this month. This professional production from San Diego Ballet also adds a little extra magic with a tea party, featuring treats and Santa photo ops. The production is set up to be more accessible and immersive than a traditional "Nutcracker," and the ballet is performed in vignettes with narration to describe what each of the dances means in the story. If you've ever had to whisper-explain to your kids what exactly is going on with all the mice, etc., this one's for you.

Dancers from the San Diego Ballet perform in the 2019 "Nutcracker Tea Party" in Liberty Station.
Courtesy of Liberty Station
Dancers from the San Diego Ballet perform in the 2019 "Nutcracker Tea Party" in Liberty Station.

There'll be coffee and tea (and hot chocolate for kids) plus a chance for the audience to learn some ballet moves themselves.

Details: Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Liberty Station Conference Center, 2600 Laning Road, Liberty Station. $55-65.

More "Nutcracker": For the more traditionally minded, don't miss the West Coast Dance production of the Tchaikovsky ballet, performed on the California Center for the Arts Escondido stage, this Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

"Luigi" by Amanda Adomaitis is on view at Trash Lamb Gallery through Dec. 31, 2021 (or until sold).
Amanda Adomaitis
"Luigi" by Amanda Adomaitis is on view at Trash Lamb Gallery through Dec. 31, 2021 (or until sold).

'Less Than an Old Pair of Centenaries II'

Visual art
If your holiday shopping plans have room for unconventional art and sculpture priced at $200 or less, you can buy it right off the walls or shelves at the one-year-old Trash Lamb Gallery in South Park. The gallery is celebrating their first anniversary with a redux of their first holiday exhibition. Plus, the gallery has a shop too, so there are plenty of gift ideas for the coolest people on your list.

Trash Lamb opened during the pandemic and has exhibited work from Jackie Dunn Smith, Britton Neubacher, Teresa Watson and more during their first year. "Less Than an Old Pair of Centenaries II" includes works by Smith, Watson, Avia Rose Ramm, Annalise Neil, gallery owner Melody Jean Moulton and many more.

Details: Thursday through Saturday, 12-6 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m., on view through Dec. 31, 2021. Trash Lamb Gallery, 2365 30th St., South Park. Free.

More visual art: Don't miss my guide to five notable works of art on view right now, including Friday's 6 p.m. performance of Maggie Shen's "____SCAPE" at the Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights. Get the list here.

'Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Radio Play'

Lux Radio Theater was a long-running and influential American anthology radio program that aired from 1935 to 1955. It was also the inspiration for Oceanside-based playwright Lance Arthur Smith, who adapted a 1947 Lux Radio Theatre production of "Miracle on 34th Street" into this fully staged musical, with music by Jon Lorenz. It's been produced across the country, including its 2016 debut at San Diego Musical Theatre, who commissioned the work.

Moonlight Stage Productions' adaptation of "Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Radio Play' runs through Dec. 23, 2021.
Ken Jacques
Moonlight Stage Productions' adaptation of "Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Radio Play' runs through Dec. 23, 2021.

For Moonlight Stage Productions show, expect the heartwarming, hopeful story you know and love, plus music — some recognizable carols and some original works.

"Miracle" just opened last week at the Avo Playhouse in Vista and performances will continue through Dec. 23.

Details: Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Additional performances Monday, Dec. 20 through Thursday Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. Avo Playhouse, 303 Main St., Vista. $37-47.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Christmas Concert

Opera, Ballet, Music
Free concert! The San Diego Opera and the San Diego Ballet are coming together with our San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez for an evening performance, outdoors at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Selections include Handel's "Messiah," Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite," Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" as well as traditional carols. With last weekend's December Nights once again relegated to a drive-thru, this feels like an even artsier chance to bundle up and get festive in the park.

As a bonus, come back on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., when singer Lauren Leigh Martin will join Prieto Ramírez (and you) for a Christmassy singalong.

Details: Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, 2125 Pan American Rd., Balboa Park. Free.

More holiday music: The San Diego Symphony's annual holiday performance, "Noel Noel," is back, this time at The Shell, with three concerts featuring the Symphony, the San Diego Children’s Choir, the San Diego Master Chorale and three performers (Mikaela Macias, Jonah C. Orona and Bryan Barbarin). Ted Sperling conducts. Fun fact: Sperling portrayed the bandleader in the 1997 movie “Titanic." Friday-Sunday at 5 p.m. $25-95.

25th Annual Parol Festival

Dance, Music, Visual art
Parols are colorful Philippine star lanterns, made during the Christmas season out of paper, bamboo and candles or other light sources, and they signify the Star of Bethlehem but have also come to mean unity and pride amongst families and neighborhoods. The parols are carried during the lubenas procession, then hung outside the home.

Parols on display outside the Mingei
Julia Dixon Evans
A display of parols and traditional attire is shown outside the Mingei in a Dec. 8, 2021 photo.

The Mingei will display some traditional illuminated parols (including just outside the main entryway), plus an 8 ft. one, and will host PASACAT, a San Diego-based Philippine performing arts group in their beautiful theater. PASACAT will feature traditional dance and choral music, as well as samplings of holiday food from the Philippines.

You can learn how to make your own parol at the Mingei on Sunday from 12-5 p.m. The performance will be Monday, Dec. 13 from 3-9 p.m. The lantern exhibition is viewable for free from 3-6 p.m., but for performances and tastings, which run from 6:30-9 p.m., you'll need a $25 ticket. Reservations and tickets available here.

Details: Parol workshop: Sunday, 12-5 p.m. Festival: Monday, 3-9 p.m. The Mingei, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. $0-25.

For more arts events, or to submit your own, go to the KPBS/Arts calendar. And be sure to sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter.