Appropriately enough, December is filled with holiday concerts at the Rio Grande Theatre. Some are free, some are benefits, and all promise a good time.
December 8, 7 p.m.: El Paso Brass Holiday Benefit Concert
The El Paso Brass has been performing continually since their founding over forty years ago. This ensemble is composed of key members of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and other distinguished artists from the Southwest. Their three CDs, Happy Holidays, Effervescent Brass, and Let It Snow! have proved very popular with both general audiences and music professionals. The group works regularly as a “traditional” brass quintet, plays concerts with a full rhythm section, and also performs as guest artists with symphony orchestras and wind ensembles.
Tickets are available at KRWG offices (Milton Hall on the NMSU Campus), the Cutter Gallery on the corner of University and El Paseo, on-line at riograndetheatre.com and by calling 646-2222. Adult tickets: $15 in advance/$20 at the door. Students/children aged six – 18: $7.50 in advance/$10 at the door. Children under age six are free.
December 9, 7:30 p.m.: Gone Girls present Merry Christmas Darlings
Tis the season for tight skirts and tighter harmonies because your favorite all-singing, all dancing girls are hauling out the holly in their Christmas spectacular this December.
Featuring your favorite tunes in a vintage style such as, Jingle Bell Rock, White Christmas, The Christmas Song, Merry Christmas Darling, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Mele Kalikimaka and more, this show is sure to get you in the Yuletide spirit.
The Gone Girls bring to life jazz standards and girl group music from the 1940s to the 1960s, like The Andrews Sisters, The Chordettes, and The Shirelles. This holiday, they keep that tradition alive with a holiday twist.
Christa Fredrickson, Valerie Mirelez, and Jamie Smith are classically trained singers who have been working together in various opera and musical theater endeavors since 2012. In July of 2015, they debuted their first Gone Girls show at Boba Café and Cabaret, singing favorites from the past such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, You’d be So Nice to Come Home To, Someone to Watch Over Me, Bei Mir Bist Du Shein, and other Golden Age wartime songs in three-part harmony. They are accompanied by Seth Zamora, piano, Adriel Hernandez, bass guitar, and Isaac Rivera, drums. The show is directed by Christa Fredrickson.
Tickets are $12 adults and $6 for children 6 – 18. Children under 6 are free. Tickets are available at riograndetheatre.com, at the Doña Ana Arts Council office on the second floor of the Rio Grande Theatre during regular business hours, or one hour before the show at the door. For more information, call 523-6403 or go to riograndetheatre.com.
December 11, 3 p.m.: Mesilla Valley Chorale presents Holiday Fanfare
A Las Cruces institution for over 40 years, the Mesilla Valley Chorale performs twice each year at the Rio Grande Theatre. Under the direction of Nancy Ritchey, the voices of over 40 experienced choral musicians blend to create a memorable musical experience. The program for this year’s winter concert, Holiday Fanfare, includes a wonderful variety of holiday favorites such as Gesu Bambino, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Ride, and Variations on Deck the Hall. Tickets are $10. Call 647-2560 for more information or to purchase tickets.
December 14, 6:30 p.m.: Every 2nd Wednesday: Las Cruces Ukes Ring in the Holidays
The Las Cruces Ukes, a community group of ukulele enthusiasts, returns to the Rio Grande Theatre for their third performance there in as many years. This popular ensemble will perform many holiday songs appropriate for the season, as well as some of their crowd-pleasing favorites for any time of year. The Las Cruces Ukes Teen Club at Arrowhead Park Early College High School will be their special guests at this concert.
The Las Cruces Ukes formed as a way for local ukulele lovers to play together and improve their skills. They now meet weekly for Thursday evening practices, offer a kids club and a teen club, and perform regularly throughout the community. They also host an annual ukulele festival, set for May 19 – 21 in 2017. More information about the Las Cruces Ukes can be found at lascrucesukes.blogspot.com and facebook.com/lascrucesukes.
Every 2nd Wednesday is a free monthly program offered by the Doña Ana Arts Council showcasing local musicians. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the performance begins at 6:30 p.m. For additional information, visit RioGrandeTheatre.com or contact the Doña Ana Arts Council at 523-6403.
December 17, 7:30 p.m.: Home for the Holidays: A Josh Grider Family Christmas Show
Josh Grider is a country music singer and songwriter born and raised in Las Cruces who now makes his home in New Braunfels, Texas. He has released seven albums and toured around the country and Europe, but is coming home to Las Cruces for the holidays — and a special performance. He and his family will perform a benefit concert that is appropriately entitled, “Home for the Holidays,” at the Rio Grande Theatre Saturday, December 17, at 7:30 p.m.
“I get to come back to Las Cruces and play shows fairly often, and since my folks are still here, my family and I always make a trip for Christmas,” Grider explains. “So this holiday season I thought it might be special to partner with the Doña Ana Arts Council and Tutti Bambini to spread a little Christmas spirit and give back to those in need. Join my family and me for the Grider Family Christmas Show and we’ll do just that. A lot of people know my wife, Kristi, is a phenomenal singer, but the boys are starting to come into their own and will be featured in the show as well. Sacred, secular, new songs and old…it will be a family-friendly show just in time for Christmas. I hope to see you there.”
Twenty-five percent of ticket sales will go to Tutti Bambini, a local children’s clothing store that serves the community and benefits Jardin de Los Niños and La Casa.
Tickets are $17 for adults, $7 for children 16 and under, and a family package with two adult and two children tickets is $40. Tickets are available at riograndetheatre.com, at the Doña Ana Arts Council office on the second floor of the Rio Grande Theatre during regular business hours, or one hour before the show at the door. For more information, call 523-6403 or go to riograndetheatre.com.
December 18, 3 p.m.: Academy of Music and Dance Student Recital
The students of Leslie Kowalski’s Academy of Music and Dance will perform their recital. Academy of Music & Dance offers group and private music lessons for all ages, birth through adult, dance classes for ages two and a half through adult. Academy of Music & Dance is the home of ABC Academy Preschool, a performing arts preschool and kindergarten.
December Artist: Emmitt Booher: El Paso Electric Gallery at the Rio Grande Theatre
During the month of December, Mesilla photographer Emmitt Booher will exhibit works that were completed during his artist-in-residency at the Organ Mountains — Desert Peaks National Monument. Booher is a native New Mexican, born and raised in the eastern part of the state. He spent his early years living and working on a small ranch, which he credits with cultivating his appreciation of the landscape, history, and people of New Mexico. His work is represented by the Tularosa Basin Gallery of Photography in Carrizozo. He and his wife, Rosa, live in Mesilla with their two rescue dogs.
Booher says, “As the first artist-in-residence photographer to represent these unique and magnificent lands, it was a rewarding experience to explore the monument’s cultural and natural resources. I would like to commend the Friends of the Organ Mountains — Desert Peaks National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management for having the foresight to institute an artist-in-residency program at the OMDPNM. Artist-in-residency programs are an invaluable source for promoting the preservation and conservation of our public lands for future generations.”
Every month the Doña Ana Arts Council welcomes local artists to exhibit in the El Paso Electric Gallery in the lobby of the Rio Grande Theatre. Regular exhibit hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Rio Grande Theatre is located at