Classical Music

Holiday Arts Preview: Classical picks

The Tallis Scholars will perform Renaissance Christmas music at Harvard Square’s St. Paul Church on Dec. 7.
The Tallis Scholars will perform Renaissance Christmas music at Harvard Square’s St. Paul Church on Dec. 7.(Nick Rutter)

HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY It wouldn’t be Christmas in Boston without the Handel and Haydn Society’s perpetually radiant rendition of Handel’s “Messiah.” In this 165th consecutive year that H+H has performed “Messiah,” soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Iestyn Davies, tenor James Gilchrist, and bass-baritone Philippe Sly appear as soloists; Bernard Labadie conducts. Later in the month, “A Baroque Christmas” offers cantatas and concertos for the season, with a guest appearance from soprano Amanda Forsythe. Messiah: Nov. 30-Dec. 2. Symphony Hall. Baroque Christmas: Dec. 13 and 16, Jordan Hall. 617-266-3605,

BLUE HERON Renowned for soulful and precise singing, this local Renaissance-focused ensemble celebrates Christmas in 15th-century France and Burgundy with music by composers including Guillaume Du Fay, Josquin des Prez, and Jacob Obrecht. Dec. 1, Wellesley. Dec. 21-22, Cambridge. 617-960-7956,


CONCORD ORCHESTRA Kids of all ages from 3 to 103 will find something to enjoy at the Concord Orchestra’s annual holiday family concert conducted by founder Richard Pittman, who celebrates his 50th anniversary with the orchestra this season. Holiday songs top off a program that includes Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket’s “The Composer Is Dead,” the repertoire’s funniest guide to the orchestra. Dec. 1, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. 51 Walden, Concord.

THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS It’s a free party on the fourth night of Hanukkah at the Museum of Fine Arts! By the light of the menorah, take in storytelling from “The Moth” alum Rabbi Dan Judson, Sephardic folk music from Voice of the Turtle, and Yiddish art song from Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, and kick up your heels for some klezmer dancing with Bessarabian Breakdown. Presented by Jewish Arts Collaborative. Dec. 5, 4:30 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts. Free.

BOSTON POPS A tradition since 1973, featuring the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and plenty of holiday treats. Shorter matinee concerts tailored for younger children offer photo opportunities with Santa. The festivities don’t stop after Christmas; catch “Home Alone” on the big screen with the orchestra playing conductor laureate John Williams’s madcap score, or party with the Pops and special guest Seth MacFarlane on New Year’s Eve. Dec. 6-31. Symphony Hall. 888-266-1200,  


BOSTON CAMERATA The company’s time machine first travels to medieval Europe for “Puer Natus Est,” an intimate program for three women’s voices and two instrumentalists including hymns, ballads, and carols in multiple historic languages (Dec. 7-9). Then, fast forward a few centuries for “Gloria! An Italian Christmas,” a new program of Renaissance and early Baroque choral pieces, instrumental fantasies, and more (Dec. 16-17). 617-262-2092,

BOSTON BAROQUE The company presents its two holiday traditions. This year’s performances of “Messiah” feature debuting soloists Layla Claire, Eric Jurenas, and Norman Shankle, as well as veteran Nathan Stark. In addition, one can ring in the new year Baroque-style with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto, and an intermission champagne toast. Messiah: Dec. 7 and 8, Jordan Hall. New Year’s: Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, Sanders Theatre, Cambridge. 617-987-8600, 

BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL England’s pure-voiced Tallis Scholars drop by Harvard Square’s St. Paul Church with a program of unaccompanied Renaissance Christmas music and a world premiere from Nico Muhly (Dec. 7). The next week, France’s Ensemble Correspondances makes its concert series debut after a popular appearance at June 2017’s festival, offering sweet pastorals and antiphons by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (Dec. 15). St. Paul Church, Cambridge. 617-661-1812,


WINTERREISE Do you seek more melancholy than merriment in the cold? Canadian dramatic soprano Adrianne Pieczonka and pianist Brian Zeger traverse Schubert’s chilling song cycle. The cycle was originally written for baritones and tenors, and the poems lament a man’s unrequited love for a woman. So it isn’t too common for female singers to take this winter journey, and Pieczonka’s performance is an opportunity to hear this beloved piece from a different perspective. Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport. Dec. 9, 3 p.m. 978-546-7391,

CHORAL BOSTON The Christmas season truly is choral music season, and amateur and professional choirs alike have celebrations for you. Among them: Boston Cecilia (Nov. 30 and Dec. 2), Jameson Singers (Dec. 1 and 8), Dedham Choral Society (Dec. 7), Cantata Singers (Dec. 7 and 9), Neponset Choral Society (Dec. 8-9), Concord Chorus (Dec. 8), Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (Dec. 9-16), Chorus pro Musica (Dec. 14), Boston Choral Ensemble (Dec. 15), Concord Women’s Chorus (Dec. 15), Back Bay Chorale (Dec. 20 and 22). Choral music isn’t just for Christmas either; the Zamir Chorale of Boston puts on its 10th annual “A Light Through the Ages” celebration of Hanukkah (Dec. 2). ; ; ; ; ; , ; ; ; ; ;

ZoëMadonna can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten. Madonna’s work is supported by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.