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LA's annual Holiday Celebration at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has something for everyone

December 21, 2016 | By Sandra Barrera, Los Angeles Daily News

BRIAN WHITE, star of NBC's "Chicago Fire" and ABC's "Scandal," is our special guest this Sunday night!

It falls on Christmas Eve, but the 57th annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration is an event for all.

Hours before the first act hits the stage Saturday of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, people from across greater Los Angeles will have already lined up for this free, annual showcase of nonstop entertainment from more than 20 choirs, dance companies and music groups representing the region's mixed and diverse cultures.

"Holiday Celebration" brings three hours of free, nonstop entertainment from more than 20 performing arts groups representing the diversity of L.A. County. (Photo courtesy Gennia Cui for the L.A. County Arts Commission)

57th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
When: 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Entertainment on the plaza begins at 12:30 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles.

Admission: Free, with seating first-come, first-served.

Information: 213-972-3099. holidaycelebration.org.

"It really reminds me of what Christmas is about," says Brian White, who returns to co-host this year's event ahead of his role in the new TV One original series "Media," about a media mogul family. "Coming together to celebrate one event with people most of whom don't look like me but who are in the same frame of mind is inspiring and heartwarming."

Holiday Celebration began as a pact between L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and wealthy arts patron Dorothy Chandler. In exchange for his support of the construction of a Music Center, Hahn asked that one day each year be set aside for the community to enjoy free arts programming.

Today, between 3,500 and 5,000 people attend the live show and another half-million tune in to the live broadcast from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday on PBS SoCal KOCE and www.pbssocal.org.

If her JazzAntiqua Dance and Music Ensemble wasn't performing at it, Artistic Director and Choreographer Pat Taylor says she'd be at home watching the Holiday Celebration on television like she's done since childhood.

"It opens your eyes up to the diversity of culture that we have here in Los Angeles, and to come together to celebrate that — I was saying to someone just the other day­ — truly is a gift," she says.

For its part, JazzAntiqua — a dance company founded in 1993 to "increase awareness of and appreciation for jazz as an American legacy" — performs the work "Wade in the Water" with 10 dancers moving to a jazz arrangement by Ramsey Lewis.

Not everyone is as familiar with the event.

Until he was tapped as face of the show, White had never experienced the Holiday Celebration. But he's become a fan.

"I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it," he says. "So yeah, after my first time as host I find myself telling everyone 'Check it out!' To become more aware of what exists for us in L.A. is really an eye-opening experience to be a part of."

The internationally acclaimed 44-voice ensemble Citrus Singers returns for its second year with a selection of songs and hand bell numbers. But Douglas Austin, who directs the choir founded by Ben Bollinger at Citrus Community College in Glendora in 1968, couldn't help but reflect on a selection from last year, the little-known "Til the Season Comes 'Round Again."

As he put it, "the song has incredible lyrics that speak to audiences about what Christmas really is about.

"Sometimes we don't get to see each other until the season comes around again so you enjoy the moment, and then you look forward to the next opportunity," says Austin, who leaves for Northern California to spend Christmas with his family directly after the show.

White can relate.

The actor, who appears in the Mandalay/Netflix film "Amateur" about the competitive world of youth basketball due out in 2017, and who has several other projects about to start up, is always on the go.

"I'm on trains, planes and automobiles during the week because I make it a point to never be away from my daughter (2-year-old Layla Simone, with wife Paula Da Silva) for more than a week," he says.

But after his hosting gig, he's staying put.

"We'll try to get everyone over at our house to open gifts, have a nice dinner and make all the calls to our extended family," he says. "I make it a point to always be with family on holidays."

Courtesy of dailynews.com