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Holiday Arts Preview

10 holiday classical concerts, from dueling ‘Messiahs’ to a Moravian Christmas

Tenor Aaron Sheehan will be performing in Boston Early Music Festival's double bill of chamber operas — to feature Lully's "Idylle sur la Paix" and Charpentier's "La Fête de Rueil" — on Nov. 26 and 27 in Jordan Hall.André Costantini/Boston Early Music Festival

THE BRANDENBURGS Bach’s six celebrated concertos have become a holiday staple all their own, and this year the Chameleon Arts Ensemble offers a complete traversal (Nov. 19 and 20, First Church in Boston, The Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms Society, under Steven Lipsitt’s direction, also performs Nos. 2 and 4 alongside other seasonal works. Dec. 18, Faneuil Hall,

BOSTON SYMPHONY AND POPS After returning from its Japan tour, the BSO under Anna Rakitina performs music by Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, and Elena Langer (Nov. 25-26). Then the Holiday Pops season (Dec. 1-24) shifts into high gear, with Keith Lockhart leading 34 concerts in Symphony Hall, with additional performances in Worcester, Lowell, and beyond. 888-266-1200,


The Chameleon Arts Ensemble (pictured here performing Mendelssohn's Octet) will celebrate its 25th anniversary season with two complete traversals of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Nov. 19 and 20, at First Church in Boston.Matthew Wan/Chameleon Arts Ensemble

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY “Messiah,” anyone? Váklav Luks leads H&H’s 169th consecutive year of performances (Nov. 25-27, Symphony Hall), with vocal soloists Deborah Cachet, Avery Amereau, Ben Bliss, and Kevin Deas. Then conductor Joshua Cohen follows with “A Baroque Christmas” (Dec. 15 and 18 in Jordan Hall), featuring more Handel, Zelenka, and Bach (Cantata No. 51). 617-266-3605,

BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL BEMF’s annual chamber opera offering in Jordan Hall dependably ranks as a highlight of the fall season. For this year’s double bill, the company returns to the French Baroque with new productions of Lully’s “Idylle sur la Paix” and Charpentier’s “La Fête de Rueil” under the supervision of its core artistic trio: music directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, and stage director Gilbert Blin. Nov. 26 and 27 in Jordan Hall,

BOSTON BAROQUE Now in its 50th anniversary season under the direction of Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque forges ahead with its own well-established “Messiah” tradition. Returning soloists include Heidi Stober, Ann McMahon Quintero, and Thomas Cooley, and baritone Sidney Outlaw makes his ensemble debut (Dec. 3 at GBH’s Calderwood Studio and Dec. 4 at Jordan Hall). A few weeks later, the annual New Year’s program will feature works by Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi (Dec. 31 at Calderwood Studio, Jan. 1 at Sanders Theatre). 617-987-8600,


WHITE SNAKE PROJECTS Opera impresario/librettist Cerise Jacobs and her company introduce a new series of staged 20-minute operas seeking out less commonly explored holiday terrain, with Paul Richards’s “A Braided Light”; Guang Yang’s “Firecrackers”; Marina Lopez’s “Rosa”; and Jorge Sosa’s “Samir’s Feast.” Music direction by Tianhui Ng, staging by Laine Rettmer. Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., GBH’s Calderwood Studio.

BSO assistant conductor Anna Rakitina leads the orchestra in works by Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky, and Elena Langer (Nov. 25-26) before handing the baton to Keith Lockhart for the Holiday Pops Season (Dec. 1-24).Julia Piven/Boston Symphony Orchestra

BLUE HERON Under the direction of Scott Metcalfe, this standard-setting local choir introduces a new program titled “Christmas in Renaissance Spain.” Dec. 16-17, First Church in Cambridge. 617-960-7956,

ASTON MAGNA To mark violinist Daniel Stepner’s 30-year tenure as artistic director, this estimable period-instrument festival has assembled a celebratory program of works by Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, and Pachelbel. Dec. 17, 3 p.m., Saint James Place, Great Barrington; Dec. 18, 3 p.m., Brandeis University’s Slosberg Music Center, Waltham.

Composer Marina Lopez's opera "Rosa," with a libretto by Paloma Sierra, will be performed Dec. 10 as part of "Let's Celebrate," a program of four 20-minute operas. Clare Welsh

EMMANUEL CHURCH Bach remains at the core of Emmanuel Music’s mission, and the composer’s “Christmas Oratorio” will be presented this season (Dec. 18, 3 p.m., Also at the church this season, Musicians of the Old Post Road presents “American Originals: A Moravian Christmas,” exploring musical traditions of Moravian immigrants to the American colonies in the mid-1700s (Dec. 10, 4 p.m.).


BOSTON CAMERATA Under Anne Azéma’s veteran leadership, Camerata offers a candlelit performance of Charpentier’s “Messe de Minuit” alongside Christmas music from the Burgundian court and more. Dec. 22, 7 p.m., First Church in Cambridge. 617-262-2092,


Jeremy Eichler can be reached at, or follow him @Jeremy_Eichler.