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THE NUTCRACKER and More Set for Cleveland Orchestra's 2012 Holiday Festival, Now thru 12/23

The Cleveland Orchestra announces its 2012 Holiday Festival, scheduled for tonight, November 29 through December 23. This season's expanded Festival begins with five performances of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker in a collaboration with The Joffrey Ballet at the State Theatre in PlayhouseSquare in downtown Cleveland. Conceived and originally directed in 1987 by Robert Joffrey, with contribution from Gerald Arpino, this production of The Nutcracker includes more than 40 company dancers, 200 brilliant costumes, and larger-than-life scenery. The performances mark the Orchestra's return to performing in downtown Cleveland during the winter season and the first time the Orchestra has ever performed in a full production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.

The Cleveland Orchestra and Choruses join forces for nine concerts of traditional Christmas favorites at Severance Hall between December 14 and 23. These seasonal programs will include "The Twelve Days of Christmas," the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, music from the movie The Polar Express, and "Sleigh Ride," among other favorites, plus sing-alongs and a very special guest.

In addition to the Nutcracker performances and the traditional series of Christmas Concerts by the Orchestra and Choruses, the Holiday Festival will include performances by the Orchestra and the group Pink Martini on December 18 and 19. True to its fashion, the band has created a globally-inclusive holiday concert for the 21st century showcasing a mix of cabaret, samba, and jazz. Their multi-cultural program features popular favorites along with holiday classics including "White Christmas", "Santa Baby," "Little Drummer Boy," "We Three Kings," and more.

Three PNC Holiday Musical Rainbow programs are offered for families with children ages three and up – "Music of Chanukah," "A Celebration of Kwanzaa," and "Christmas Brass Quintet," featuring Members of The Orchestra and guests. The "Music of Chanukah" program will be presented at The Temple-Tifereth Israel on December 7 and 9. Donna Willingham will be the guest storyteller for the "Celebration of Kwanzaa" program, performed at Karamu House on December 13. The "Christmas Brass Quintet" will feature musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra and guests in two performances at Severance Hall, December 14 and 15. For details, see the calendar that follows this release.

Families can arrive early for the 3 p.m. Christmas Concerts on December 15, 16, 22, and 23 to have Lunch with Santa in Severance Restaurant from 12 noon until 3 p.m. Call 216-231-7373 or visit clevelandorchestra.com for reservations.

Severance Restaurant is open for each of the Holiday Festival concerts in Severance Hall, as listed in the calendar that follows this release. Reservations can be made at clevelandorchestra.com or OpenTable.com.

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by Peter Danish