Hill Factor

Sun 12/21
Several of the religious holidays celebrated worldwide during December are linked to the first day of winter and shortest day of the year, better known as the winter solstice. Jazz music, being a religion of its own -- and Windham Hill Records the temple at which many aficionados worship -- it's small surprise that a concert tour courtesy of the legendary label has taken its place among these time-honored traditions. A host of the genre's most venerable artists takes the stage for an evening of holiday fun at Windham Hill's Winter Solstice, Sunday, December 21, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Guitarist and Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman, pianist and three-time Grammy nominee Liz Story, and New Age African vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Samite headline the 2003 version of an annual tour that's become a favorite of jazz lovers the world over.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the center, 7380 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Tickets are $32. For details call 480-994-ARTS or visit www.scottsdalearts.org.- Craig Wallach

Ghost Story

Traditional rendition of Dickens' classic in Gilbert

Everyone from the Muppets to Mickey Mouse to Mr. Magoo has interpreted A Christmas Carol -- in fact, Charles Dickens' most famous story has been filmed more than 200 times. (Not bad for a "ghostly little book," as its author deemed it.) If you're going Carol-ing, save the Blockbuster fees and catch the classic live at Gilbert's Hale Centre Theatre, 50 West Page, where a troupe of local actors gives Dickens' tale the traditional treatment.

A Christmas Carol continues on Monday through Saturday evenings through Tuesday, December 23. Tickets are $16 for matinees, $18 for evening performances. Call the box office, 480-497-1181, for reservations; see www.haletheatrearizona.com for more information. - Jill Koch

Ice, Ice, Baby

Center Dance melts hearts

Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen: A Fairy Tale is brought to choreographed life by Center Dance Ensemble's Frances Smith Cohen, who has interpreted it as a modern dance ballet with music by Sergei Prokofiev. The Snow Queen is about a broken magical mirror whose shards turn human hearts to ice. Kay, a young boy who grows roses with his closest friend Gerda, breathes in a remnant of the mirror and his heart freezes. He's then swept away by the Snow Queen, after which Gerda must travel far and wide to find her lost friend. Performances by Center Dance Ensemble continue from Friday, December 19, through Sunday, December 21, at the Herberger Theater Center's Stage West. Tickets are $19.50 for adults, $16.50 for seniors and $8.50 for students. Call 602-252-8497 for details.Brendan Joel Kelley

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Brendan Joel Kelley
Jill Koch
Contact: Jill Koch
Craig Wallach