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Make it a musical season: a guide to festive holiday concerts in Baltimore

There’s more than usual to celebrate this holiday season, now that many feel safe enough to resume in-person gatherings. That means the typical packed roster of holiday concerts is back in full force. Whether your style is a full orchestral performance of the classics or a self-styled Yuletide procession, there’s a concert for everyone’s musical tastes this holiday season.

Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based men’s choir, has decades of international touring and multiple Grammy awards to its name.
Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based men’s choir, has decades of international touring and multiple Grammy awards to its name. (Lisa Kohler)

A Chanticleer Christmas

You should jump at the chance to catch a performance by Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based men’s choir with decades of international touring and Grammy awards to its name. They’re simply one of the best choirs out there. That also makes a Chanticleer concert the perfect way to kick off the holiday season — ring it in with their signature Yuletide blend of Renaissance music, jazz, pop, gospel and contemporary tunes.

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8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 West Patrick St., Frederick. Tickets start at $23. weinbergcenter.org

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Handel’s ‘Messiah’

Edward Polochick has been leading the BSO in their annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” for nearly 40 years — so this might be one of the most polished performances you’ll ever hear. (And there’s a Naxos album available if you’re inclined to compare recordings.) Regardless, it’s simply not Christmas without a rousing performance of “Messiah,” which includes the iconic “Hallelujah” chorus. Polochick returns to conduct the BSO, the BSO Symphonic Chorale, and a lineup of stellar solo vocalists. It might be their best performance yet.

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7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Tickets start at $17.50. bsomusic.org

‘Motown Christmas’ at Keystone Korner

Tarsha Fitzgerald Productions puts on an evening of holiday-inspired tributes to groups like The Temptations, Four Tops, The Dells and Smokey Robinson. Featuring a collective of some of the Mid-Atlantic region’s most sought-after jazz and blues musicians, this will be one concert to groove to — and if it gets you in the holiday spirit, so much the better.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Keystone Korner, 1350 Lancaster St., Baltimore. Tickets start at $30. keystonekornerbaltimore.com

Christmas for Kids: The Miraculous Magical Balloon

The Baltimore Choral Arts Society team up with Synetic Theater to present a dazzling show about a traveling actor and his magical trunk of toys and illusions. While kids are the main audience, parents too should expect to be wowed by the talents on display. Synetic Theater is made up of Georgian artists Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili; they learned this particular show in Georgia and have been touring it around the world since the 1990s.

11 a.m. Dec. 11 at The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, 10431 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia. $13. baltimorechoralarts.org

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra: Holiday Pops With Sultans of String

Originally rescheduled because of the pandemic, Sultans of String’s collaboration with the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra has been a long time coming. The Canadian group’s sound is a multicultural blend of Spanish, Arabic, Caribbean and French-Romani traditions, with the medium of stringed instruments as a constant. Now, they lend their talents to a festive program of holiday favorites, joined by flamenco dancer Tamar Ilana and vocalist Rebecca Campbell.

8 p.m. Dec. 17 at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. Tickets start at $59. annapolissymphony.org

The tradition of posadas is one that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn.
The tradition of posadas is one that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn. (TOMAS ALEJO)

La Posada with Creative Alliance

Enjoying holiday music in a concert hall is one thing; it’s an entirely different, exuberant experience to take your festivities to the streets. The tradition of posadas is one that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn, and typically involves music, dance and costumes. This candlelit procession begins at the Creative Alliance and ends with a fiesta at Our Lady of Pompei Church, complete with food, piñatas and, of course, more music.

5 p.m. Dec. 18 starting at Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore. Free. creativealliance.org

Music at St. David’s: A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

The festival of nine lessons and carols is a longstanding English tradition largely associated with England’s King’s College, Cambridge, interspersing Christian worship with carols, hymns and anthems. Under the direction of Dr. Douglas Buchanan, the Choir of St. David’s presents this free musical service drawn from the English cathedral tradition.

10 a.m. Dec. 19 at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave. Free. stdavidsrolandpark.com/music.html

Christopher Swan and the cast of 'A Christmas Story, The Musical.'
Christopher Swan and the cast of 'A Christmas Story, The Musical.' (Gary Emord Netzley)

‘A Christmas Story, The Musical’

If you’re one of those people for whom the TBS 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” leaves you wanting, then this is the show for you: a musical take on the beloved holiday movie, brought to you by the songwriting team behind hit productions like “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” Not that “A Christmas Story” is without its own awards: It was nominated for three Tony Awards, which is almost as gratifying as getting a BB gun for Christmas.

7 p.m. Dec. 21-22 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore. Tickets start at $51. france-merrickpac.com

Bach in Baltimore: New Year’s Day Baroque Celebration

Why should Christmas hog all the holiday music? Ring in the new year with an annual performance of Baroque favorites selected by Bach in Baltimore’s principal performers on flute, oboe, violin and harpsichord. And if you balk at the thought of venturing out so soon after New Year’s Eve, Bach in Baltimore has another performance the following day featuring the music of Bach and Handel.

4 p.m. Jan. 1 at Zion Lutheran Church, 400 E. Lexington St., Baltimore. Tickets start at $5. bachinbaltimore.org

Elizabeth Nonemaker covers classical music for The Baltimore Sun as a freelance writer. Classical music coverage at The Sun is supported in part by a grant from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The Sun makes all editorial decisions. Nonemaker can be reached at nonemakerwrites@gmail.com.

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