Even as the semester winds down, there still are plenty of things to do in the Brazos Valley, so grab your schedule and make your plans.

Today brings one of the most anticipated events: our Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra's ninth annual Holiday Pops Concert, and nothing says Christmas more than this special event.

The concert begins at 5 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 4201 Texas 6 S. in College Station. The sanctuary always fills up fast for this joyous concert, so make plans to get there early if you want a seat. Tickets at the door are $30 for adults and $10 for children.

Marcelo Bussiki, the Symphony's amazing music director and conductor, looks forward to this concert every year. "I see this program as an opportunity to have a good time with the audience, since they are so familiar with the music."

And what great music there will be. Among the selections this evening will be O Holy Night, Hanukkah Medley, Jingle Bells, Joy to the World and Sleigh Ride. The concert will close with the magnificent Hallelujah Chorus sing-along with the audience.

The concert will feature the Symphony brass and percussion; organist James Faith; The Christ United Sanctuary Choir under the direction of Don McAvoy, minister of music and worship; the Christ United Canticle Ringers under the direction of music director Chris Caffee; and the College Station High School Varsity Women's Choir under the direction of Kearby Etheredge.

"A good performance is all encompassing, the audience is part of the performance. The musicians and the conductor can feel the audience and there is a magical something that happens in quality live performances that is irreplaceable," Bussiki said. "Some performances are more conducive to reach this state of 'communion' than others and there is no more conducive music for that experience than holiday songs,"

The Symphony's support guild, the Friends Association of the Symphony Orchestra, will host a complimentary cookie and beverage reception in the church foyer after concert.

Dreaming

Our wonderful Brazos Valley Chorale contributes its tribute to Leonard Bernstein on the 100th anniversary of his birth with its annual Christmas Concert, A White Christmas, at 7 p.m. Monday.

The concert will be in St. Joseph Catholic School's Christ the Good Shepherd Chapel, 600 S. Coulter Drive in Bryan. The St. Joseph Catholic High School Choir under the direction of Roger Boening will join the Chorale for several selections.

Tickets until noon Monday will be $15 for adults and $5 for students, with children 6 and younger admitted free. They are available online at bvchorale.org. They will be available at the door for $20 for adults and $5 for students.

Bernstein produced only one Christmas album, Joy to the World, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, recorded in October, shortly before President John F. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. The album proved to a comfort to a grieving nation.

Monday's concert will include such favorites as White Christmas, O, Come All Ye Faithful, Away in a Manger, Carol of the Bells, Patapan, Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry, Deck the Halls, Once in Royal David's City, and the Hallelujah Chorus. The audience will be invited to join in the singing of several numbers.

Doug McAvoy conducts the Chorale, with Miguel Sousa as accompanist.

Kathy Turner accompanies the St. Joseph High School Choir.

A little Dickens

For many of us, it just wouldn't be the season without a performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This year, First United Methodist Church in Bryan is presenting the musical version of the classic tale.

The church is located at 506 E. 28th St. in Bryan.

The three performances will include a meal or afternoon English tea, Performances are:

• Friday dinner theater, 6 p.m.

• Saturday luncheon theater, noon.

• Dec. 17 afternoon English tea, 2 p.m.

All performances will be in the church's Christian Life Center. Entrance is on 27th Street. The production is appropriate for all ages.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. They are available only at the church office during normal working hours.

Gary Thomas, a frequent performer at The Theatre Company and StageCenter, said the production will be in two acts, with a 15-minute intermission. There will be a live orchestra.

Director is the Rev. David Henry.

The cast includes Mark Romero, Colleen Holmes, Kevin Balke, Emilee Korth, Gary Thomas, Clay Falls, Marianne Abu Al-Nile, Linda Watson, Cameron Liotta, Skip Dent, Jon Marner, McKenzie Jones, Rob Webber, Alex Watson, Patti Wunneburger, Jean Westphal, Trez Jones, Becky Hall, Noah Lair, Charles Grimes, Jessica Grimes, Joshua Weirich, Madeline Weirich, Doug Wunneburger, Nathan Thomas, Lucas Dickson, Meghan Tarver, Pam Coleman, Clarissa Kennedy, Nancy Balke, Marianne Balcar, Colleen Holmes, Dala Henry, and Jennifer Webber.

Crew members include Annalicia McCumba, Bobby Wisdom, Rhonda Jones, stage management; Patti Wunneburger, Mary Parrish First Baptist Church College Station, Bryan High School, costumes; Cameron Thomas, Mike Holmes, sound; Eric Laird, Robert Webber, Helen Treat-Balcar, lighting; and Cathryn Looney, dinner.

Orchestra members are Angela Corbett, keyboard; Timothy Cheng, violin; Sam Adler, viola; Andrew Nguyen, cello; John McSpaddin, trumpet; Kerry Bird, clarinet; Penny Zent, flute; Tom Lewis, bass; and Sara Burke, drums.

A Christmas Carol, the Musical features music by Broadway favorite Alan Menken, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Ahrens and Mike Ockrent.

Over the past 15 years, First Methodist in Bryan has presented numerous musical productions, including Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell, The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Mary Poppins.

Many in the cast are church members, but others are recruited from throughout the community.

More great music

The Bryan High School Orchestra will continue the Christmas festivities on Saturday with the Electric Light Orchestra Christmas Concert.

Performances will be at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday at the Bryan school district's Performance Arts Center, the former Civic Auditorium at 800 S. Coulter Drive in Bryan. Best of all, the concert is free, the orchestra's gift to the community.

Orchestra director Glenn Lemons said the concert will feature holiday music performed in a Trans-Siberian Orchestra style.

Gifts galore

It promises to be a fun evening Tuesday when the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History will host its eighth annual Holiday Showcase. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Visitors can shop the fine museum gift shop, full of presents you wind find anywhere else, and tour the exhibits. The current exhibit is Horse Power: The Story of Horse-Drawn Vehicles.

There is no charge for admission.

In addition to the gift shop and galleries, the event will feature authors and artists, live music, wine and hors d'oeuvres.

The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History is located at 3232 Briarcrest Drive in the Brazos Center in Bryan.

The perfect gift

Have you given up trying to find the perfect gift for your loved ones or your friends and coworkers? The Theatre Company in Bryan has the answer for you: season tickets to the season's four remaining shows.

Each season package is only $60, which includes a ticket to Camelot, running Feb. 23 through March 4; Big, the Musical, April 20 through May 6; The Threepenny Opera -- the Mack the Knife musical -- June 15 through 24; and Rock of Ages, Aug. 3 through 19.

The cost of the package is a 25 percent saving off regular adult ticket prices. Season tickets guarantee a seat to the performances of choice and first admission to the theater.

If you've never been to a Theatre Company performance, you've been missing out. The company does first-class work and its performances are not to be missed.

The season ticket gift packages are available one hour before each remaining performance of She Loves Me, which runs today, Saturday and Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

Or, go online to www.theatrecompany.com to order season gift packages. You will receive a Christmas card with the option for recipients to pick the dates they want to attend.

There is nothing better than the gift of live theater.

Overtures

Today -- Dedication concert of the new organ, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 906 George Bush Drive in College Station, 3 p.m.. free.

Today-Dec. 17 -- She Loves Me, The Theatre Company, behind JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Bryan's Tejas Center, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., $7 to $20. (www.theatrecompany.com)

Today -- A preview of BCS to Broadway and Back, the Randy Wilson Story, The Theatre Company, behind JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Bryan's Tejas Center, A fund raiser to complete the documentary of the company's longtime artistic director, 6:30 and 8 p.m., suggested donation $15 available at the door. (www.theatrecompany.com)

Monday -- Entries for the 20th Annual Brazos Valley Youth Concerto Competition are due at the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra offices at 750 William D. Fitch Parkway, Suite 430-B in College Station.

Thursday through Saturday -- The Game's Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays, StageCenter, 201 W. 26th Street, above Mr. G's Pizza in Downtown Bryan, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., $10 to $15. (www.StageCenter.net)

Thursday and Dec. 21 -- Advent recitals by members of the Brazos Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, St. Mary's Catholic Church, 603 Church Ave. in College Station, 12:30 p.m., free.

Friday and Saturday -- Elf jr., Brenham Children's Chorus, Dr. W.W. O'Donnell Performing Arts Center on the Blinn College Brenham campus. (brenhamchildrenschorus.com)

Every Sunday -- Open mics and poetry slams sponsored by Mic Check Poetry, 8:30 p.m. Revolution Café in Downtown Bryan, (miccheckpoetry.com)

Items for Arts Watch should be emailed to robert.borden@theeagle.com. Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.

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