Donald’s list: Weekend choices (Dec. 8)

I’ve already told you about two of this weekend’s big events: the Central California Ballet’s “Nutcracker” at the Saroyan Theatre, which runs for three performances; and Soli Deo Gloria’s Christmas concert at University Presbyterian Church on Friday evening. Here are other promising options:

Youth Orchestras of Fresno

All three ensembles of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno — more than 250 musicians in all — offer a holiday concert that includes works by Sibelius, Stamitz, Dvorak, and Gounod.


The Youth Orchestras of Fresno perform in a Memorial Day weekend concert. Photo / The Munro Review

A highlight of the program: Dancers from Shirley Winters Ballet will complement the advanced Youth Philharmonic’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite:

One of the dancers, Ashelea Okayasu, is the sister of violinist Emilea Okayasu, a longtime Youth Orchestra participant who is now a Youth Philharmonic member. Another dancer, Liam McCullar, was himself a Youth Orchestra violinist before he discovered his love of dance. Their interpretations will be inventive as they deal with the constrained space available to them on a stage already filled with young string, wind, and percussion players. Expect magic!

Coarsegold composer Barbara Ulman arranged several small works by Kabalevsky for the Youth Orchestras’ younger ensembles. And a December concert wouldn’t be complete without a medley of holiday songs.


Adam Elmore and Music Director Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.

Details: 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, Shaghoian Concert Hall, 2770 E. International Ave. The event is free, though a donation of $10 is suggested. Seats can also be reserved in advance at

For more on the top-notch YOOF, read about my trip with some of the players last summer to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.


Swede Fest 2017

If you’ve never attended a Swede Fest before, then you haven’t really experienced Fresno, right? This annual festival showcases entries of “Swedes,” otherwise known as “low-budget, summarized, recreations of popular Hollywood movies or TV shows.” Creativity and daring are in abundance in these four-minute videos. I’ve seen some very amusing ones over the years. (And because they’re so short, a good thing is that if one particular Swede isn’t so hot, it will be over before you can say “Take that, Hollywood.”)

Swede Fest 17 starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave. Admission is free.

2017 December Peoples Church Announcement Slide2

The Chordsmen

Immerse yourself in your favorite Christmas music with a concert on Friday, Dec. 8, by The Chordsmen at Peoples Church. The instrumental portion will begin at 6pm, featuring Arland Finney, Dan Lichti, Bobby Logan, and Dairien Finn. The main program begins at 7 p.m., with Wilbur Daniels, Kearey Lyn, Dale Ellis, Dalisay “Dee” Johnson, Michael Ogdon and Mark Oller.

Admission is free.

Choral celebration

winter wonderland

Here’s a chance to hear the choral ensembles at Fresno City College directed by Julie Dana, along with singers from “New Wrinkles.” Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $8 general, $6 seniors and $5 students; children are free.

Holiday theater

The Visalia Players production of “Hope for the Holidays” this weekend is listed as sold out on the company’s website, but here are two other area options to consider:


GOLDEN CHAIN THEATRE: In Oakhurst, “Believe in Christmas!” is a holiday musical variety show that includes classic carols and festive vignettes in an atmosphere that will help get you into the holiday spirit. James Mierkey directs. Opens 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and runs through Dec. 17. Tickets are $8 and $15.

KINGS PLAYERS: In Hanford, it’s the final weekend of “A Little Country Christmas.” A description:

Head back to 1992 with Dolly, Reba and some of your favorite country artists for a Christmas Special to remember! Their caravan has found themselves stranded here in Hanford, on the way to Hollywood. So why not put on a good old fashioned Country Christmas Show right here?

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Tickets are $12 online, $14 at door.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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