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Wednesday, December 24 at 10 p.m. L.A. Holiday Celebration 2008

(Rochester, NY) L.A. Holiday Celebration 2008, airing Wednesday, December 24 at 10 p.m. and repeating Thursday, December 25 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1), highlights the largest multi-cultural holiday show in the country, performed before an audience of 9,000-plus in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center in downtown L.A. Los Angeles is home to 166 ethnic cultures, and L.A. Holiday Celebration 2008 is a glittering cross section of this fascinating mosaic of traditions. From the jazz-African fusion of Tribaljazz, led by ex-Doors drummer John Densmore, to Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy’s phalanx of Korean drums, to the purity of Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers’ a cappella Negro spirituals and the deep, rich sonorities of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, each of the show’s 16 featured groups expresses its own spirit of the season.

John Densmore’s ensemble, Tribaljazz, kicks off this year’s 2008 performance. Densmore describes his group as a “jazz quartet fuel-injected with master African drummers.” They perform God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Jadme (Jam) with saxophonist/flutist Art Ellis. Densmore keynotes the entire celebration when he says, “I dig my hometown.”

Others featured in L.A. Holiday Celebration 2008:

• Los Pinguos, five musicians who migrated from Buenos Aires to Santa Monica, combine Spanish guitars, a Cuban tres and the Peruvian cajón (box-drum) in their original holiday song, Alegría.

• The Colburn Children’s Choir, from L.A.’s esteemed music conservatory, the Colburn School, joins Los Pinguos for a choral take on the band’s engaging Noche Buena.

• The Palmdale High School Choral Union, featuring a select group drawn from the school’s 60-voice a cappella choir, demonstrates why they’ve won international prizes in Goin’ to Bethlehem.

• The seven- to nine-year-olds of “Showtime Katusha,” all second-generation Russian-Americans, bring Russian wooden folk art dolls to life in Russian Matrioshky.

• Founded by Los Angeles native Albert McNeil, the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers have taken African-American music, including their Holiday Celebration selection Wonderful Counselor, to 70 countries.

• Kultura Philippine Folk Arts, ambassadors for the dance and music of the Philippines in L.A. since 1992, offer Tinikling, an audience favorite in which the performers are challenged to dance between rhythmically manipulated bamboo poles.

• The Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, composed of sixth- through twelfth-graders from the Acton-Agua Dulce School District, expresses peace, tranquility and hope in By the Lakeside.

• Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Grant Gershon, who remembers being introduced to the Music Center through Holiday Celebration as a child, leads his much-honored chorus in La Peregrinación (The Pilgrimage), which relates part of the Nativity story.

• Korea native Jung Im Lee, who runs one of the leading Korean traditional dance studios in L.A., stages the spectacular Symphony of Drums with 20 beautifully costumed dancer-musicians.

• The UCC Chorus, representing children and adults from Churches of Christ throughout the L.A. region, sings the upbeat Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child.

• Jose Hernandez, director of Mariachi Sol de Mexico, wrote La Musica to express his passion for the music that his family has been performing for five generations.

• JazzAntiqua Dance &Music Ensemble, dedicated to the appreciation of jazz, created the original jazz ballet Christmas Is Coming to Vince Guaraldi’s music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

• The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, featured in the documentary Out Loud, broadcast on public television, performs Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Candles).

• The developmentally disabled children and adults of the ARC Handbell Choir, a fixture of holiday performances throughout the L.A. region, interpret that most classic of carols, Silent Night.

• The Salvation Army Tabernacle Children’s Choir rebels with good cheer in Various Themes on Fa La La.

The L.A. Holiday Celebration is a decades-old tradition, beloved by Angelenos for nearly half a century. The show, which is admission-free, is a gift from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to the community at large.

*For a complete schedule of holiday programming visit, wxxi.org/holiday.

For more information, visit pbs.org/holidaycelebration.

Pictured: The seven- to nine-year-olds of “Showtime Katusha,” all second-generation Russian-Americans, bring Russian wooden folk art dolls to life.
Photo Credit: Ed Krieger

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