Photo by Jeff Wuerker; part of an exhibition of Western land and sky called "Visual Picnic" at Fastframe Gallery.
  • Photo by Jeff Wuerker; part of an exhibition of Western land and sky called "Visual Picnic" at Fastframe Gallery.

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What do you have to accomplish before you are "distinguished"? If you happen to be Ruth Laredo, you have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and the White House; with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic; you are a three-time Grammy Award nominee, you are hailed as "America's first lady of piano," and you are known for your pioneering recordings of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Beethoven and Barber. You are now distinguished. And if you are Ruth, today you will present an Homage to Chopin in Colorado College's Packard Hall on the southwest corner of Cache La Poudre Street and Cascade Avenue. It begins at 7:30 p.m. Don't be late; people will be paying $10 to hear your magical fingers strike the keys. Call 389-6607 for details.

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Hallelujah!! What are the holidays without a good dose of Handel's Messiah? A performance of the uplifting classic will begin at 8 p.m. in the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, a building almost as beautiful as the music itself. Admission is free, so get there early to secure a decent seat. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

If you prefer to see your art rather than hear it, check out the new exhibit at the Fastframe gallery, 5154 Centennial Blvd. Visual Picnic: An Exhibition of Western Land and Sky features oil pastels by Pat Dagnon and photography by Jeff Wuerker. Admission is free. The opening reception begins at 6 p.m. Call 277-0161 for more info.

If you want it all, you can see and hear your art at the opening performance of the holiday classic Scrooge! The musical, based on Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, will be presented by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Repertory Theater. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. at the FAC, 30 W. Dale St. Tickets are $18-$20. The show runs weekends through Dec. 19. Call 634-5583.

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Only once a year can Springs residents wrap their children, animals, vehicles and selves in strings of electric lights without being called crazy or cruel, and this is it. The Festival of Lights Celebration culminates with the parade at 5:50 p.m. The route begins downtown at St. Vrain Street, heads south on Tejon, west on Colorado, then north on Cascade Avenue. The celebration also features an arts and crafts show at Colorado College, a Family Fun Day at the Pioneers Museum, a Jingle Bell Fun Run/Walk for arthritis, a tree-lighting ceremony for Pikes Peak Hospice, a concert by the Soli de Gloria Choir and more. See the listings on page 55 for more information.

Photographer Dennis B. Woods captured the Spirit of Colorado and the Southwest with his camera. You can see for yourself at an exhibit of his work at the Pine Creek Gallery, 2419 W. Colorado Ave. The opening reception begins at 5 p.m., with a second reception at noon on Sunday. The exhibit will hang until Dec. 10; admission is free. Call 633-6767.

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If November's snow hasn't already done it for you, get into the holiday spirit at Prelude to Christmas, a performance of medieval chants and handbells at Grace Episcopal Church, 631 N. Tejon St. The concert will be presented by the Schola Cantorium Choir and Grace Notes Handbell Choir. Admission is free, and the musical evening begins at 4 p.m. For more, call 633-5529

For some folks, it's not the snow and music that gets them thinking about the holidays, it's the lights and festive decorations. Some of the most beautifully decorated homes in the city are actually bed and breakfasts in Old Colorado City, whose warm Victorian charm is only enhanced by pine boughs, velvet ribbons and starry lights. Visit eight of these magical houses and marvel at the holly, ivy, wreaths, ribbons and bows during the fifth annual Holiday Bed and Breakfast Tour. Tickets are $10-$15 and benefit the Old Colorado City Historical Society. Call 636-1225 to find out more.

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Cowboy balladeer and poet Don Edwards will perform at the Smokebrush Theater, 235 S. Nevada Ave. The concert begins at 7 p.m.; tickets are $15 and can be procured by calling 444-0884. If you read last week's Independent, you already know why you should go see the Minstrel of the Range. If not, check it out on the Web at, and click on "last issue."

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You've been shopping, eating, tromping through snow and ice, wrestling with relatives, losing feeling in the tip of your nose. You need a break. Stay warm at home tonight with the family and watch the Peter, Paul and Mary Holiday Concert. The '60s harmonizers will get Christmas-y with the New York Choral Society at 8:30 p.m. on KTSC public television, channels 8 and 15 in the Springs.

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It's big. It's pink. It seems to be some kind of half-assed abstract representation of the Front Range. It's the 10-foot-high wall looming between Interstate 25 and the homes on Uintah Hill on the city's Westside. Fine Arts Center Director David Turner will discuss Public Sculpture in the Springs: Who Said It Was OK To Build the Berlin Wall on I-25? at Colorado College's Aficionados luncheon today at noon. The luncheon will be held in Gaylord Hall. Admission is $10.25, and seats must be reserved by Monday, Dec. 6. Call 389-6649.

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