Top Tix

Nutcracker2_bySharenBradfordHoliday shows are thick on the ticket-buyer’s table in December, when venues lay out their yummiest confections for the family to savor.

Santa Fe Opera puts on a distinctly New Mexican pageant with Shoes for the Santo Niño at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on the first weekend and The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis on the second weekend. This 40-minute children’s opera is based on the story by Peggy Pond Church out of Northern New Mexico Hispanic and Native American folklore. Composer Stephen Paulus and librettist Andrea Fellows Walters were commissioned by the University of New Mexico to write this work first performed in 2011, and Kathleen Clawson stage directs.

Dec. 1-2, nhcc.com, 505.724.4771; Dec. 8-9, santafeopera.org, 505.986.5900

Popejoy Hall serves up a yummy assortment of treats for your pleasure each December. Any one of these selections would brighten my holiday—all of them together would leave me exhausted in January, but with a smile on my face. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder was the 2014 Tony Winner for Best Musical and the touring company kicks off the month. As far as I can tell, it has not much to do with Christmas, which recommends it in itself. Then Mannheim Steamroller Christmas and Mariachi Christmas appear, each an annual sell-out among fans. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol does a one-nighter just before the holiday, and we are left with plenty of time for last-minute shopping and private feasting.

Dec. 7-22, see separate listings for above shows, unmtickets.com, 505.925.5858

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Too Big to Wrap

Taos Gorge, photo by Geraint Smith

Taos Gorge, photo by Geraint Smith

For your holiday gift list this year, think outside the box—way outside it—with gifts that refuse to be contained. Rather than giving eachother more stuff that has to be stored and maintained, why not give your loved one an experience they’ll cherish for a lifetime? Give the gift of knowledge, joy or adventure. While such things are intangible, they are also meaningful and enduring.

An Old-Fashioned Sleigh Ride

What could be more quintessentially yuletide than a horse-drawn sleigh ride in the snow? Throw in hot cocoa and cookies, and we’ve officially reached peak winter nostalgia. Arrange for a couples or family ride with Roadrunner Tours in Angel Fire.

The frost may bite, but that will only add to your warm, fuzzy feelings as the sleigh glides along a groomed nature trail starting at 4 p.m. A short stop at the halfway point allows for photo opportunities and time to walk around, pet the horses, and take in the peaceful surroundings. For the more culinary minded, you can add on a three-course meal following the ride. Tours are available December through March, last just under one hour and are appropriate for all ages. “This is our 33rd year of doing sleigh rides for Christmas,” owner Nancy Burch says. “It’s a tradition, and it makes a wonderful gift.” It’s not only a longstanding tradition, but also a popular one: During the Christmas season, tours fill quickly, so plan ahead and make reservations in advance.

Roadrunner Tours: $40/kids; $50/adults, 575.377.6416, nancyburch.com/sleigh-carriage Continue reading

Toys for Curious Kids: Moon Rabbit & Out of the Blue

shutterstock_696775111It’s been a particularly stunning fall––I’m sure you’ve noticed––the leaves a glorious phoenix before the ashes of winter softly pull them to the earth. I remember growing up, when the sole purpose of autumn was getting all the neighborhood kids together to play in the backyard. Our goal? To make the biggest leaf pile imaginable. It was awesome. Or, as Shana Hack, owner of Moon Rabbit Toys in Santa Fe has a penchant for saying, “Awesome sauce!” But Midwestern winters could be brutal, and many an hour was also spent inside, creating galaxies with Tinker Toys, imaginary kingdoms with wooden blocks and trying to get the family together to play charades, or Trivial Pursuit, or an epic, sometimes week-long game of Risk.

I suspect I’m dating myself with the aforementioned board games, but it would appear that a new generation of board-game nerds is on the loose, as both Moon Rabbit and Out of the Blue Toys in Albuquerque note there’s a full-on resurgence in the popularity of board games in the past couple of years. Lisa Gallegos, manager at Out of the Blue for the past five years, thinks this might be a rebellion against or reaction to all of our solitary screen time, but perhaps it’s best not to overthink it, and just enjoy the “throwback family fun,” with new classics like Kingdomino, a twist on dominoes in which you are a lord seeking new lands for your kingdom, or strategic, long-play games like Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan. Shana advises looking for games that have won the prestigious German “Spiel des Jahres” (Game of the Year) award; a coveted honor that rewards excellence in design. Apparently the Germans don’t play around when it comes to board games.
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Music Drives Out the Darkness

GMarks-PerformanceSF-01On a recent October school day, one of Performance Santa Fe’s 2017-18 scheduled artists, Julie Fowlis, renowned Scottish Gaelic singer and multi-instrumentalist, gave a large group of third and fourth grade public school students their own private concert. “We bussed them in,” says Cav Cavanaugh, PSF’s operations and education coordinator. “She’s singing to them in a strange language, telling them the fairy tales behind the songs and what they mean, with accompanying instruments; she performs the song she sang as Merida in Disney Pixar’s movie Brave—the kids lost their minds!”

That firsthand experience of music’s power to evoke passion is exactly what Cav and fellow collaborator Leanne DeVane, music education coordinator for Santa Fe Public Schools, work very hard to ignite through an impressive collection of PSF education programs. The nonprofit’s motto, “Changing lives through the power of performing arts,” applies not only to Santa Fe’s adult population but also to over 2,800 students enrolled in elective music courses in 24 public schools. Having a partnership with PSF, says Leanne of the collaborative music programs, “brings the whole thing to life.”

Perhaps closest to PSF’s heart, Cav says, is the Bravo! Kids program, bringing opportunities to children grades one through 12 to interact with performers of Julie Fowlis’ caliber. Along with school performances, Bravo! Kids also provides master classes taught by various PSF visiting artists, whose level of expertise—and inspiration—is far beyond most kids’ experience and expectations. Cav describes one master class, taught by another of this season’s performers, musical pioneer and cellist Matt Haimovitz. “He sat down onstage with five chosen students, one on one, at the Scottish Rite Center, where, by the way, the acoustics are amazing,” she says. “They each perform something for him, which is so nerve-racking—it feels like they’ll never get to his level—and he was showing one of them, Lila, a bowing technique. Then, using it, they played a version of a note together for the first time and, as it kind of hung in the air, they both registered it at the same time and, looking up above their heads, they said, ‘Did you hear that?!’” Continue reading

Art Buzz – Dec 2017—Jan 2018

Albuquerque   

KArl_Hofmann_FINAL516 ARTS presents In the Balance, a large-scale installation by Karl Hofmann, an Albuquerque-based artist with a lot of international exposure. His solo project was commissioned to transform the windows and entrance of the gallery, in part to “engage the cityscape and street traffic in Downtown Albuquerque with non-traditional visual art.” Hoffman uses repurposed scrap building materials to surprising effect, and says, “The title of this project references the profound sense of uncertainty I feel as much of the world seems to teetering between order and chaos.” Check it out from Dec. 1 (when the opening reception’s held in conjunction with First Friday Artscrawl) through Jan. 13. Details at 516arts.org.

Hosted by 516 ARTS in partnership with the Albuquerque Museum, a dynamic show titled The US / Mexico Border: Place, Imagination and Possibility, co-curated by Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims and Ana Elena Mallet, opens in the new year on Jan. 13 and runs through Apr. 15 at the Museum, and Jan. 27 through April 14 at 516 ARTS. The idea is to feature designers and artists working along the US/Mexico border. This is an opportunity to understand what their lives are like in that region of the world and experience images of the migrant-citizen hybrid culture. Details at: 516arts.org and albuquerquemuseum.org. Continue reading

The Buzz – Dec 2017—Jan 2018

Albuquerque

Anything dubbed “nosh” is probably pretty much right up our alley. So when we’re told the ABQ NoshFest is coming to town, our buzzers go off, so to speak. Lovers of all things food and fun, Jan. 14, 2018, is your day. The event celebrates Jewish heritage, bringing to Embassy Suites Hotel the best in Jewish cuisine—from Nosh-talks to a Latke and Vodka tasting, from a Kugel Cook-off to Baillo’s Football Play-off Zone, plus a kid zone, shopping and a raffle—and the money raised benefits the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque. The community center assists homeless families and children; provides summer camp, swim lessons and early childhood education scholarships; supports people with disabilities; helps wounded warriors and beyond. JCC Executive Director Dave Simon says in a press release, “We are pleased that local favorite food establishments have stepped up to the plate to prepare and serve popular Jewish foods not easily found in our city.” Visit abqnoshfest.com; as they say, “Whatever you nosh, you’ll nosh it at the first annual ABQ NoshFest.” Mazel tov!

The Pueblo Harvest Café at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which was among the first restaurants in the United States to offer pre-colonization dishes, recently launched its new winter menu, which includes several dishes created solely from ingredients present in North America before European contact and colonization. The menu includes an earthy corn-broth-based stew and game meats a-plenty. The dishes highlight Native cuisine and tradition, and abound in the flavors of an Indigenous diet that aren’t as well known to mainstream culinary audiences. “This pre-contact menu is our take on this growing movement of celebrating Native cuisine,” Executive Chef David Ruiz says. “I wanted the stories we’re telling through the food to reflect the stories being told in the museum, what I call the Pueblo-to-table story.” And for those of us who already have a go-to dish on the menu, many post-contact favorites remain to tantalize wintry taste buds. Visit indianpueblo.org. Continue reading