Christmas Eve is now in high def.
Santa Monica and Venice will be well represented at the 49th Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration free concert on Christmas Eve, broadcast live in high definition on local public broadcasting station, KCET.
Besides being a benefit for The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the concert is an annual Christmas Eve gift to the people from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. (Even the parking is free!)
The first Celebration took place in 1959 at the Sports Arena.
In 1964, the site moved to the newly-opened Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, where it still resides today.
This year, five local acts help ring in the festivities.
Blue 13 Dance Company, from Venice, appears at 5:15 p.m. According to the group’s artistic director, Achinta S. McDaniel, they specialize in “Bollywood Tech, which is essentially contemporary dance theater inspired by the drama and the color of Bollywood, which is India’s film industry based in Mumbai.”
For the Holiday Celebration, 12 performers from the troupe perform a number called “Diya Aur Toofan,” which translates to “Candle and the Storm.”
McDaniel says “The piece is our homage to The Nutcracker in a Bollywood Tech way. It also hints to the Indian festival of lights called Diwali, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, by giving gifts, and lighting candles rooted in Hindu mythology. Our piece comes out of that Hindu tradition. So instead of the mouse king we have the evil empress Raven.”
At 6 p.m., Venetian Gustavo Bulgach and his band Klezmer Juice perform two Latin-tinged Klezmer medleys called “Songs For Rejoicing” and the “Latin Meets Klezmer Holiday Medley.”
Klezmer is the traditional Jewish celebratory music of Eastern Europe. Bulgach’s grandfather emigrated from Russia to Argentina and helped found a synagogue there. Bulgach grew up steeped in both cultures.
As a result, Bulgach says his brand of Klezmer music has a subtle Latin rhythm to it.
“And that is really nice, because people like to dance to it,” says Bulgach. “It’s a twist to the bolero, or a twist to the samba. It’s not pretentious, it’s not egotistical, it’s just entertainment.”
At 6:30 p.m., the show goes on with the Stefani Valadez Ensemble performing ancient music from the Mediterranean with the songs “Mose Salio De Misrayim” and “Hine Me Tov.”
Valadez sings in five different languages, including Ladino, which, according to Valadez, “is ancient Spanish mixed with Hebrew from the Jews that lived in the Iberian Peninsula 500 years ago. In that region of the world, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived peacefully. They weren’t fighting, they weren’t competing and they were getting along. Very high times.”
The high times continue with the Santa Monica-based Namaste Women’s Choir slated to perform at 6:35 p.m.
“We are singing a piece called ‘Ma Navu’, a Hebrew song, which is basically about peace. It has lots of really beautiful rubs, it’s simple, but it’s a challenge to keep in tune,” says choir director, Diane Rose.
They will also be singing a Latvian Christmas Carol called “Winterfest,” which, according to Rose, is “basically about snowfalling, windblowing and Christmas coming. A very sweet, easy going little winter piece.”
Finally, the local talent conludes at 8 p.m., when Los Pinguos, whose roots trail from Buenos Aires to the Third Street Promenade, debut a brand new Christmas song composed especially for the Holiday Celebration. “It’s called ‘Una Luz de Esperanza’ which means ‘Light of Hope.’ We play with horns, trumpet and trombone. It’s a very happy song, melodic and rhythmic,” says Adrian Buono, one of the founding Pinguos.
All told, there are 47 acts representing some 1,500 performers throughout the six hours of free, multi-cultural, High Def show.
Now that’s a good gift.
No reservations or tickets are necessary. All performance times are subject to change. Doors open at 2:30 p.m., the concert goes from 3 to 9 p.m. Seating is first come, first served. Attendees can arrive at any time and stay as long as they wish. The Music Center is located at 135 N. Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles.
Information, (213) 972-3099, www.holidaycelebration.org/.