LA County Holiday Celebration 2021: Acapella, soul, Mexican dance

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You won’t want to miss the Palmdale High School Choral Union play during this year’s show, says The Music Center Executive Director Josephine Ramirez. Photo by Timothy Norris.

Despite pandemic challenges, a longtime seasonal tradition is back. This week, the 62nd annual LA County Holiday Celebration will add a little extra sparkle to Christmas Eve. 

While the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has forced organizers to hold the event virtually at the last minute, a range of cultural performances will still grace the stage of The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

“It’s a real celebration of the diversity of LA and LA artists, so we’re really excited to have the show back,” says Josephine Ramirez, an executive director at the Music Center who helped put the show together. 

It’s the second year in a row that the free Holiday Celebration was pushed to virtual operations. Despite the change, 22 performance groups are set to take the stage.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sings at a previous LA County Holiday Celebration. “This is Los Angeles, we have folks as polished and longlived as the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles [and] the LA Chamber Choir. A lot of folks have been with us a long time, and every year we add new performing groups to the roster,” says The Music Center Executive Director Josephine Ramirez. Photo by Gennia Cui. 

According to Ramirez, the original event was conceived in the 20th century by Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. Fundraiser Dorothy Chandler, the namesake of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, asked the supervisor to support her plan to build an arts complex in downtown LA, and the rest was history, according to Ramirez. 

“He agreed as long as this performing arts center would open our doors to the public for free every Christmas Eve. And so we've been hosting it ever since,” says Ramirez. 

The once 12-hour event has been whittled down to three, but it still features hundreds of performers. There is something for everyone this time around, and certain performances are not to be missed, says Ramirez.  

One of them is by Adam Mandela Walden, an LA native known for his soulful cello repertoire. Diagnosed with savant syndrome at a young age, Walden channels his voice through his classical pieces. It’s the first time he will be performing in the show, and Ramirez says she is looking forward to seeing him in action. “In the rehearsal hall, he had folks in tears crying because of the depth of his work.”

Cellist and LA native Adam Mandela Walden will be playing a set at The Music Center during the LA County Holiday Celebration. Courtesy of The Music Center.  

The Palmdale High School Choral Union is a group of young students drawn from a 60-person acapella choir. Ramirez says the singers are back by popular demand and have a jam-packed performance this year. 

If you like your holiday music to be a mix of country, blues and Americana, Sean Oliu and the Coastline Cowboys are for you. The three-piece country music band plays soulful renditions of classic hits. 

“It's like country holiday music, and it's a really fun group that I'm looking forward to hearing again,” says Ramirez.  

If you like cowboys, country and Christmas, Sean Oliu and the  Coastline Cowboys are worth watching, says The Music Center Executive Director Josephine Ramirez. Courtesy of The Music Center. 

Pacifico Dance Company is back again this year to give Angelenos a taste of both classical and contemporary Mexican dance forms. The group was founded nearly two decades ago and is composed of 40 accomplished dancers and musicians. Ramirez says the group is one of the big, colorful performances they close the show with, and she expects them to be back with brilliant dancing and fabulous music too. 

Performers with the Pacifico Dance Company take to the stage at a previous LA County Holiday Celebration performance. Photo by Will Tee Yang. 

You can catch the live TV broadcast at 3 p.m. PST on PBS SoCal or stream it on, or





Matt Guilhem


Tara Atrian