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Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker: This lively production takes place in Tchaikovsky’s native land and includes Russian-named characters, folk legends Ded Moroz and Snegurochka, and life-size Matrushka dolls. Dec. 18, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Flint Center of the Performing Arts, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. $28-$122. 800-745-3000, nutcracker.com/yourcity/cupertino-ca. Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir: Director Terrance Kelly leads the award-winning choir in his signature arrangements of traditional holiday favorites. Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. $28-$36. bit.ly/southbaygospel, 650-903-6000.

In Washington, D.C., a group of parents and students protested outside the Department of Education, Students and teachers at a Seattle high school boycotted a standardized test, leading the district superintendent to declare that city high schools have the choice to deem it optional, In Oregon, students organized a campaign persuading their peers to opt out of tests, and a group of students in Providence, R.I., dressed like zombies and marched in front of the State House to protest a requirement that students must achieve sugar plum fairy ballet hand painted pointe shoes by lauri jon studio city (tm) a minimum score on a state test in order to graduate..

Born in Chicago, Gifford spent his childhood mainly in Chicago and New Orleans. Although he is currently a San Francisco resident, he has spent half of his life in Europe. Everyone is welcome to attend this event that recognizes one of the most important holidays in Asian heritage. The Lunar New Year is often celebrated with big family gatherings, gift giving, the eating of symbolic foods, and displays of festive decorations — all centered on bringing good luck for the New Year and recognizing the imminent arrival of spring.

“Irish Christmas,” Heritage Theatre, 1 W, Campbell Ave., Campbell, A team of Irish traditional musicians, dancers from the Kerry Dance Troupe led by Kevin Horton (“Riverdance”), the Kerry Records voice squad and Irish actor Sheelagh Cullen, 8 p.m, $41 and $46 at cityofcampbell.com/heritagetheatre, ‘, 16th annual Fantasy of Lights, Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, 1.5-mile drive-through holiday lights and display entertainment extravaganza, Includes mostly animated larger-than-life displays, tunnels of lights and much more, 6-10 p.m, nightly, sugar plum fairy ballet hand painted pointe shoes by lauri jon studio city (tm) through Dec, 24, $15-$50 per vehicle, Information: sccgov.org/sites/parks/fol/Pages/AnnualFoL.aspx..

Znaider was just as appealing in his solo encore: the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor, played with a sublime combination of tensile strength and exquisite delicacy. After intermission, Deneve led the orchestra in the first San Francisco Symphony performance of Connesson’s “A Glimmer in the Age of Darkness.” Commissioned by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as a celebration of its first season under Deneve, it was composed in 2005 and dedicated to the conductor.