Join the TSO Pops! for some holiday fun when music director and conductor George Hanson returns to the podium for the first time since 2003 to lead the Holiday Spectacular celebration.

The event is Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at the Tucson Music Hall.

Hanson and the TSO Pops! are joined by the TSO Carolers, directed by Bruce Chamberlain, along with the Tucson Regional Ballet, Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School and Santa Claus.

To win tickets to the TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular and a backstage meeting with George Hanson, share your favorite holiday memory with the TSO. Submit your memory in 250 words or less to by noon this Friday, Dec. 17. If your story is one of the three chosen to be shared by Hanson with the audience during the performance, you will receive free tickets to the performance and a chance to meet Hanson.

The concert offers a variety of holiday favorites. The TSO Carolers perform “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “What Sweeter Music” and a composition by Gustav Holst, “Christmas Day,” among others. The Carolers join Hanson when he returns to the keyboard for “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve.”

Selections from the Southwest Nutcracker features Chili Peppers, Rattlesnakes, Ocotillo and the Prickly Pear Fairy from the Tucson Regional Ballet.

Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, directed by John Contreras, add Southwest flavor with “Estrellita,” “Pastores a Belen” and “Feliz Navidad.”

The TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular opens with “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star,” composed by George Hanson’s father, composer and conductor Dr. J. Robert Hanson. An accomplished trumpet player, Dr. Hanson has an extensive background in performance, which included playing principal trumpet with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. As a composer, he has written works for orchestra, band and other instrumental and vocal ensembles. Recent compositions include commissioned works for the Minnesota All-State Orchestra and the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

“How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” opens with two young flutists, Reena Debray and Xaviere Giroud, performing an antiphonal introduction while they are positioned on opposite sides of the stage.

This concert is co-sponsored by the Jim Click Automotive Team. Media partners are the Green Valley News & Sun, The Explorer and Tucson Lifestyle.

TSO Pops! Holiday Spectacular

Featuring the TSO Carolers, Tucson Regional Ballet, Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School and Santa Claus

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19

Tucson Music Hall

Tickets are available online at, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Box Office located at 2175 N. Sixth Avenue, or by phone at 882-8585. TSO Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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