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Arts and Culture in Santa Clara and San Jose

Museums and Theatre in the Silicon Valley

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In Santa Clara arts and culture come in many forms such as annual shows, community performances, world-class opera, museums, and musicians. Sandwiched between San Francisco and San Jose, the city of Santa Clara has access to the same cultural demographic who are intrigued by and interested in new arts innovations and experiences.


For 14 years, the ancient town of Bethlehem comes to life in Santa Clara on a 40,000 square feet area featuring life-sized buildings and bridges. The First Baptist church parking lot is transformed into the town. More than 100 actors from First Baptist and other local churches participate by dressing in character in Biblical-era clothing. Roman guards patrol the streets as they did in the year of Jesus’ birth. The church stages a busy market place that has interactive booths where children can learn about weaving, basket making, perfume making, and baking—all common activities of the time. For adults there is a booth to taste wine and juice fresh from a wine press.

Last year more than 17,000 visitors attended the event. If you are in Santa Clara this year, stop by to see Bethlehem. The exhibit is open from December 6th through 10th (2012), from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at Santa Clara First Baptist Church, 3111 Benton Street, between Kiely Blvd and Lawrence Expressway. Admission to the event is free.

Children’s Musical Theater

Children’s Musical Theater was founded in 1968 to create a community-based children’s theater in San Jose. Today Children’s Musical Theater is one of the largest youth musical theater and training program of its kind in the United States. Its programs focus on making musical theater training inclusive and accessible to children of all ages and abilities.

In July 2012 Children’s Musical Theater is staging Bye Bye Birdie. The 2011-2012 season included Legally Blonde, Avenue Q, Xanadu, Seussical, Doctor Dolittle, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Future shows are Rapunzel, Disney’s Tarzan, and 9 to 5.

San Jose Taiko

San Jose Taiko fosters a deep respect of cultural traditions and a commitment to artistic excellence and is dedicated to the advancement of the taiko art form.  Through performances of its renowned Performing Ensemble and the San Jose Taiko Conservatory, the organization brings the fascinating taiko heritage to modern audiences. 

Most of San Jose Taiko’s performances are during matsuri, or festivals, held during special seasons in Asian American communities. San Jose Taiko participates in Bay Area local events that include multicultural and music/dance festivals, state fairs, and city celebrations throughout the country.

San Jose Taiko also showcases a 90-minute concert set with creative staging and lighting design. Concert venues may be at schools, colleges, universities, and performing arts centers in stages of varying sizes. The biggest event is San Jose Taiko’s home season concert, which is an extended performance series that often premieres new compositions and introduces new concepts.

Past Collaborations have included work with the Bangerz, George Coates Performance Works, American Conservatory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Brenda Wong Aoki, Margaret Wingrove Dance Company, Abhinaya Dance Company, Eth-Noh-Tec, and many more organizations.  To see if you can catch a taiko performance, please check San Jose Taiko’s events calendar.

Mission City Opera

Santa Clara’s professional opera stages performances in English and original work languages. Supertitles help the audience get the full experience of a powerful and intimate performance. Mission City Opera productions are fully staged and performed by the Mission City Opera Orchestra, chorus, and professional soloists.  The Opera offers audiences affordable, intimate, and personal opera of the highest musical quality for contemporary audiences in Silicon Valley. For performances and schedules, please see Mission City Opera’s site



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