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Things to do in Missoula: MADE Fair, seasonal theater, and experimental sound

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Dolce Canto (copy)

Dolce Canto is performing its annual winter concerts this weekend in Missoula and Stevensville.

Here's a quick guide to some upcoming arts and cultural events happening around Missoula in the coming week.

Holiday Swing

(Saturday, Dec. 10)

The jazz program at the University of Montana is moving its annual seasonal fundraiser to the Wilma. Students and faculty members will perform; the headliner is John Wicks. A trained jazz musician who holds down the rhythms in Fitz and the Tantrums, he recently joined the UM faculty. You can also hear their line-up, including Rob Tapper (trombone), Jeff Troxel (guitar), Tommy Sciple (bass) and Robert LedBetter (percussion).

Families have an afternoon matinee option. During the 2 p.m. “Swing Set” at the ZACC Show Room, they can show up and dance during a shorter 45-minute version. It’s free.

Missoula Community Chorus: ‘Snow Angel'

(Friday, Dec. 9)

The chorus is presenting Canadian composer Sarah Quartel's piece, "Snow Angel" and debuts the Forte children's choirs, the Prelude and Bel Canto ensembles.

Quartel's work is a five-movement work with cello and djembe. According to her website, it "explores themes of love, rebirth, and beauty through the eyes of children and the heavenly army of angels that watch over them, yearning to make a difference to their lives."

Elsewhere on the program they'll perform Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti's "Shepherds' Chorus" the opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors," plus songs about sleighs from Ukraine and Russia; songs for Hanukkah, and Washington composer Judy Rose's "Peace."

It's at 7:30 p.m. in St. Anthony's Church. For tickets or more information, go to

Hearth: A Yuletide Tale 02

Musician and playwright Tyson Gerhardt plays the part of Jack in "Hearth: A Yuletide Tale." 

Montana Rep's 'Hearth: A Yuletide Tale'

(Dec. 8-11)

An original Missoula seasonal play is returning to town this season.

“Hearth: A Yuletide Tale,” which has themes around homelessness and community in difficult times, is being produced with the Poverello Center.

The Montana Repertory Theatre, a professional company embedded in the University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance.

The Rep premiered “Hearth” last year — the story and music were by Tyson Gerhardt of local groups Dusty the Kid and the Recession Special. (His band played on stage). It’s returned a year later, with revisions by Gerhardt and Missoula playwright Kate R. Morris (“In the Snow”).

The show is being performed this go-round in the Masquer Theatre at the University of Montana Dec. 8-11.

For tickets, go to

As part of the show, the Pov is seeking donations for winter clothing including hats, gloves, socks and hand-warmers. They can be dropped off in the lobby.

Dolce Canto’s ‘Love in December’

(Dec. 10-11)

The auditioned vocal choir is resuming its winter concerts, “Love in December,” under the direction of Julia Tai, the artistic director of the Missoula Symphony Orchestra. (She’s filling in while the choir looks for a new artist director, according to a news release from the nonprofit choir.)

The program will include introspective works including Jake Runestad’s “Let My Love Be Hard,” Daniel Elder’s “Lullaby,” and Eric Whitacre’s “Five Hebrew Love Songs.” The group will be accompanied by pianist Mac Merchant.

Bitterroot concert: Saturday, Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., Stevensville United Methodist Church. Guests: Stevensville High School Chrysolian Choir. Tickets are $15 adult, $7.50 for students.

Missoula concert: Sunday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., UM Music Recital Hall. Featuring the Hellgate High School Chamber Choir and Chevaliers. Tickets are $20 or $10 for students.

MCT's 'The Happy Elf'

(Dec. 8-18)

The jazz pianist and crooner Harry Connick Jr. wrote an original holiday musical, “The Happy Elf,” about an elf who needs to redeem a town where no one’s on the “nice” list, possibly because it only gets a sliver of sunshine each day. Find out how he smooths things over in Bluesville through the Missoula Community Theatre’s production, which has a three-week run.

The production includes original music by Connick that will be performed by a five-piece jazz band. Artistic director Joe Martinez is leading a cast of 34 total.

All performances are at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. Go to or the box office for tickets.

Barncat Country Band at Free Cycles

(Saturday, Dec. 10)

This Missoula group plays honky-tonk with a barroom (or tap room) energy, complete with fiddle and piano. Catch them at Free Cycles from 7-10 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Cover is $5, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Poetry reading at the MAM

(Saturday, Dec. 10)

Two Bitterroot Salish poets will read their work on Saturday at 1 p.m. Debra Magpie Earling is the author of the novel “Perma Red,” and the upcoming edition of “The Lost Journals of Sacajewea” (Milkweed, May 2023). Victor Charlo authored the collections, “Put Sey (Good Enough)” and “Dirty Corner and Other Poems and Stories.” At the reading, his daughter, April Charlo, will translate his work from Salish.

They’ll be reading upstairs in the Frost Gallery, the MAM’s contemporary Indigenous art gallery. Currently on view is “New Monuments” by Raven Halfmoon. The Caddo (Oklahoma) artist recently was named a 2023 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow. Her large-scale sculptures on are view through the end of the month. It’s free and open to the public.

Experiment with sound at the Westside

(Sunday, Dec. 11)

At the Lakebottom Sound’s Free Sessions, musicians and composers will present new work and ideas with a talk and performance, followed by audience interaction. This installment features Michael Musick of the University of Montana and Jesse Blumenthal, a sculptor who works with installations that incorporate sound. According to Lakebottom’s Facebook page, they’ll work with the idea of a “sonic ecosystem,” including electronics and analog equipment, including a 55-speaker array. People can bring traditional instruments and are encouraged to bring pedals, contact mics, handmade instruments. Head to for a full run-down.

It runs from 7-9 p.m. at the Westside Theater.

Missoula Holiday MADE Fair

(Sunday, Dec. 11)

Get your shopping done in one stop, as HandMADE Montana returns with the 15th annual Holiday MADE Fair. The Adams Center will be packed with more than 200 artists spread out across all three levels. The mediums and styles will run the gamut from alternative to traditional, from visual art to jewelry and crafts. The hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is free. To get in early from 10-11 a.m., you can pay a $10 VIP charge. Proceeds go to the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, which is working on its new location.

‘A Very Top Gun Christmas’

(Wednesday, Dec. 14)

Sean Kirkpatrick, a funny theater writer-actor, and Jacob Godbey, a comedian and funny musician, fear no joke or cease-and-desist order as they’ve created a holiday parody of the testosterone-bronzed high velocity action classic. They and a cast of fellow actors shot with green screens, which is surely more likely to rankle Tom Cruise than any jokes, and wrote original music in a suitably Loggins and Messina-esque level of pop-rock drama.

It screens at the Roxy Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. It’s streaming at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12,

Thursday happy hour at the museum

(Thursday, Dec. 15)

The Missoula Art Museum is staying open later on Thursdays in December for “neighborhood nights.” From 5-7 p.m., you can meet friends and check out the exhibitions after hitting the no-host bar.

The line-up right now includes work that’s well worth taking your time — Raven Halfmoon’s “New Monuments” includes three large-scale ceramic sculptures that mine her Caddo heritage; Marilyn Lysohir’s “The Dark Side of Dazzle” investigates war through paintings and sculptures, such as a 24-foot-long ceramic battleship. “Omnipresent” includes photographs from the MAM collection. The artists include legends in the medium such as Lee Friedlander; and Montana artists whose careers are still on the rise. One of Bigfork photographer Lauren Grabelle’s images was recently included in Ken Burns’ “Our America: A Photographic History.”

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