Return of the Nativity

With the arrival of Santa/Hanukkah Harry/Y2K still a couple of weeks off, the festive season is at its height this week, and, as a result, holiday concerts are abundant. Here's a run-down of a few of the possibilities:

Phoenix Symphony -- Despite all the seasonal sounds around the Valley this week, only one show can boast Partridge matriarch Shirley Jones. She joins ASU Choral Union, Desert Bells and Phoenix Children's Choir for a three-night stand of holiday pops concerts with the symphony. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 2; 8 p.m. Friday, December 3; 8 p.m. Saturday, December 4; and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 5, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $19 to $43. Call 602-262-7272 (Phoenix Civic Plaza) or 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).

Messiah -- Under the baton of Dr. Jerome K. Garrison, the music department of South Mountain Community College presents a free concert featuring excerpts from Handel's masterpiece, performed by the Community Concert Choir and the Orchestra of SMCC. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, December 4, in Room 100 of the Student Union Building at SMCC, 7050 South 24th Street. Call 602-243-8034 for more information.

Southwest Brass -- The group performs a holiday show titled "A Classic Christmas" at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 5, at St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church, 6715 North Mockingbird Lane in Scottsdale. To be included are selections from Nutcracker, Messiah, Bach's Christmas Oratorio Suite and other traditional faves. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors 60 and older, $10 for juniors 18 and younger, and are available at the door. A second show is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, December 17, at Paradise Valley Methodist Church, 4455 East Lincoln Drive in Paradise Valley. For details call 602-997-9981.

The Aulos Ensemble -- The outfit plays a show, titled "Joyeux Noel," of seasonal French baroque music at the Bellevue Heights Church, 9440 Hutton Drive in Sun City. Works by Corrette, Marais, Couperin, Daquin and Rameau are all on the bill. The Sun Cities Chamber Music Society sponsors the all-ages show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 6. Tickets are $14, $5 for students. Call 623-972-0478 for details.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead