SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend offers Utahns a chance to watch a Grammy Award-winning organist in action, hear the soaring voice of tenor Nathan Pacheco and enjoy the stand-up comedy routines of Jeff Dunham. Those looking to get their Christmas fix can explore the annual Festival of Trees or attend BYU's "Christmas Around the World."
Paul Jacobs with the Utah Symphony
Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs is on a quest to give the organ what he considers a much-needed push into the realm of mainstream classical music, and the Utah Symphony is on a quest to become the first American orchestra to record all five of French composer Camille Saint-Saens’ symphonies. The performances this weekend will help both Jacobs and the symphony achieve their goals, as Jacobs performs Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony” alongside the Utah Symphony. Jacobs once played the organ nonstop for 18 hours, so his performances Friday and Saturday night are sure to be filled with energy and gusto. Catch the concerts Dec. 1-2, 7:30 p.m., Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, $15-$83 (801-533-6683 or utahsymphony.org)
A vocal performance graduate from Brigham Young University, Nathan Pacheco is returning to the Beehive State to perform music from his soon-to-be-released Christmas album, “O Holy Night.” In a previous interview with the Deseret News, the tenor spoke about how his LDS mission helped him overcome his fear of singing in front of people. Pacheco will perform at Kingsbury Hall Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m., $25-$49 (tickets.utah.edu).
Ventriloquist/comedian Jeff Dunham is making a stop in the Beehive State this weekend — one of 60 on his “Passively Aggressive” tour. Dunham recently released his stand-up special, “Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster,” on Netflix, showing the interactions between the ventriloquist and his group of ill-behaved dummies: Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba J and Peanut. Dunham comes to the Eccles Theater Nov. 20-Dec. 1, 7 p.m., 131 S. Main, $56 (live-at-the-eccles.com).
Festival of Trees
Now in its 46th year, the Festival of Trees has become a beloved holiday tradition in Utah, giving people the chance to stroll through a winter wonderland filled with decorated Christmas trees and intricately designed gingerbread houses — houses constructed months in advance by a small group of inmates at the Timpanogos Women’s Correctional Facility and other volunteers. Many of the 600-800 hand-decorated Christmas trees are dedicated to patients at Primary Children’s Hospital. The event takes place, Dec. 1-2, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State, Sandy, $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and children ages 2-11 (festivaloftreesutah.org).
“The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs”
The Salt Lake Acting Company is kicking December off with a musical adaptation of the children’s book, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.” Come hear the story as told by the “Big, Bad Wolf, “ Alexander T. Wolf, in Piggsylvania’s trial of the century, Dec. 1-29, dates and times vary, 168 W. 500 North, $26 for adults, $16 for children (saltlakeactingcompany.org).
“Christmas Around the World”
This Christmas season, BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble is getting a little help from China. “Christmas Around the World,” BYU’s holiday tradition, incorporates more than 200 dancers, singers and musicians to help showcase the world’s ethnic diversity. For the first time in its history, the event is bringing in international dancers/musicians, a group from Minzu University in Beijing. “We’ve done this concert for over 50 years, but this is the first time we’ve ever brought in a group from outside the US to perform with us,” artistic director Jeanette Geslison said in a BYU announcement. "It’s a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience.” The event takes place Dec. 1-2, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 2, 2 p.m., Marriott Center, BYU, Provo $16-$22 (801-422-2981 or arts.byu.edu).