Are you the type of person who needs to hear some classical Christmas music, beautifully performed, in order to get your Yule on? If so, we've got you covered with our top 10 list of Christmas concerts coming up across Canada.
These concerts are guaranteed to warm the heart of the grinchiest Scrooge. Here are our top picks, from East Coast to West.
A King's Christmas
Dec. 9 at 4 p.m., St John’s Anglican Church, Truro
Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m., St John’s Anglican Church, Lunenburg
Dec. 15 at 4 p.m., Wolfville Baptist Church, Wolfville
Dec. 16 at 3 and 7:30 p.m., Church of All Saints, Halifax
By all accounts, if you're only going to take in one Christmas concert in Nova Scotia this season, this is it. The King's College Chapel Choir and director Paul Halley present their fifth annual concert of music and narration. This year, the music ranges from Gregorian chant to Arvo Pärt and includes some traditional Nova Scotian tunes. Narrator Alexander MacLeod, author of the award-winning collection of short stories Light Lifting, will intersperse the music with seasonal readings.
Reviewing last year's concert in the Chronicle Herald, Stephen Pedersen wrote, "this annual festival of song and story is red-lettered on December calendars all over Metro Halifax and beyond."
A King’s Christmas is part of an annual 3-concert series called King’s in the Cathedral. (Photo: Jesse Blackwood)
CBC/McGill Youth Choir Gala
Nov. 25 at 4 p.m., Pollack Hall, Montreal
CBC/McGill Youth Choirs
Erica Phare, conductor
Jonathan Goldstein, narrator
Josh Rager, pianist/arranger/bandleader
The 10th annual CBC/McGill Youth Choir Gala brings together more than 200 young voices from Canada and the United States for a concert featuring winter music that will warm your heart — and a special live taping of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! with CBC Radio's Jonathan Goldstein. Your inner child will thank you. WARNING: attending this concert may cause your heart to grow three sizes.
33rd annual CBC Christmas Sing-In
Dec. 9 at 3 p.m., the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal
The Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul
Jordan de Souza, conductor
Jonathan Oldengarm, organist and music director
Sing-In Brass & Percussion Ensemble
A CBC tradition with heart and soul, and voice! The annual Christmas Sing-In features your favourite carols and other music for the season performed by choir, organ, brass and percussion, and an audience of more than 1,000 singing along at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul in downtown Montreal. It has become insanely popular over its 33-year history, but we think it's still worth the wait outside, in the cold, to get a seat. You'll be swept away by the stirring music, and support a good cause, too.
This year's collection goes to LOVE (Leave Out Violence), an award-winning youth violence prevention organization.
Montrealers line up outside the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul hours before the CBC Christmas Sing-In begins. (Photo: Bonnie Nichol)
J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio
Dec. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., La Maison symphonique, Montreal
Collegium Vocale Gent
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor
Dorothée Mields, soprano
Damien Guillon, countertenor
Thomas Hobbs, tenor
Peter Kooij, bass
This is a rare opportunity to hear Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe perform the music that established their sterling international reputation. They have recorded J.S. Bach's major choral works, including the Christmas Oratorio, to great acclaim on the Harmonia Mundi label. Joining them for these performances is a quartet of Belgian soloists sure to delight. You'll be humming Schlafe, mein Liebster well into 2013. Hats off to the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Montreal Bach Festival for inviting them to this side of the Atlantic.
Under the direction of Phillipe Herreweghe, the Collegium Vocale Gent has given thousands of concerts throughout the world and has built a remarkable discography of more than 75 recordings. (Photo: supplied by Montreal Bach Festival)
French Baroque Christmas
Dec. 5 at 7 p.m., Dec. 6–8 at 8 p.m., Dec. 9 at 3:30 p.m.
Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, Toronto
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir
Ivars Taurins, conductor
Tafelmusik's annual performance of Handel's Messiah, scheduled for later in December, is a sure deal. But we were intrigued by these upcoming concerts devoted to the music of 17th-century French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Two major choral works will be featured: the Christmas Oratorio (In nativitatem Domini canticum) and the Mass for double choir and orchestra (Messe à 8 voix et instruments). It will be a chance for the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir to shine. And if Mother Nature cooperates, there'll be a gentle snowfall as you leave the concert in search of a chocolat chaud in downtown Toronto, to complete the picture.
St. Michael’s Choir School at Massey Hall
Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.
Massey Hall, Toronto
The boys and young men of St. Michael's Choir School
True North Brass
Jerzy Cichocki, Teri Dunn, Charissa Bagan and Jakub Martinec, conductors
William O'Meara, organ
Christmas is all about tradition, and St. Michael's Choir School has been presenting its annual Christmas concert for more than 70 years. Think of this as an aural version of a Christmas card: a choir of 270 boys and young men, accompanied by organ and brass, performing Conrad Susa's A Christmas Garland and Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. With these marvelous arrangements of all the familiar Christmas tunes, you won't need three egg nogs to get that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling.
Stephen Handrigan, director of St. Michael’s Choir School, says, ‘The annual Massey Hall concert will continue to be an inspiring, uplifting holiday event for all Torontonians to enjoy for many years to come.’ (Photo: supplied by St. Michael's Choir School)
Canadian Brass and the National Arts Centre Orchestra
Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., National Arts Centre, Ottawa
National Arts Centre Orchestra
Alain Trudel, conductor
Everyone loves the Canadian Brass. They've been going strong since 1970, have recorded more than 100 albums and they know how to please a crowd. For this concert with the NAC Orchestra, they'll play the hits, including "God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen," "O Holy Night" and "Christmas Time is Here." Conductor Alain Trudel, himself an accomplished trombonist, will have a great time leading this kick-brass concert.
Christmas in Early America
Nov. 24 at 8 p.m., Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.
Crescent Fort Rouge United Church, Winnipeg
Ross Brownlee, Michael McKay, conductors
Here's an unexpected twist: for its annual Christmas concert, the Winnipeg choir Camerata Nova surveys the musical traditions of New England, backwoods Appalachia, southern plantation slave quarters and the early Spanish churches of California and Latin America. There'll be shape-note songs and carols from the Shaker tradition. Also featured will be several made-in-Manitoba arrangements of the American carol "I Wonder as I Wander." What better way to complement the dose of Americana you'll be getting if you go see Steven Spielberg's Lincoln over the holidays?
Dec. 7–8 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 9 at 2 p.m.*
Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus
Timothy Shantz, conductor
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
Lawrence Wiliford, tenor
Nathaniel Watson, baritone
All eyes will be on chorus master Timothy Shantz, who's conducting Handel's Messiah for the first time with the CPO. Whether you're the type who likes to quietly worship at the Messiah altar, or the kind of person who prefers to bring a score and belt out the choruses, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has got you covered. They're offering two straight-ahead performances, and one sing-along concert.
(Note: CBC Classical reminds you that good choral singing involves listening to your neighbour and blending in, and not trying to drown out everyone else with your "King of Kings and Lord of Lords.")
Following her appearance with the CPO, soprano Shannon Mercer will perform Handel's Messiah with the Seattle Symphony. (Photo: Helen Tansey)
Britten: Saint Nicolas with Ben Heppner
Dec. 7 at 8 p.m., Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver
Vancouver Chamber Choir
British Columbia Girls Choir
Vancouver Chamber Orchestra
Jon Washburn, conductor
Ben Heppner, tenor
If you believe Ben Heppner should be a candidate for sainthood, this concert is for you. The celebrated Canadian tenor will sing the title role in Benjamin Britten's Saint Nicolas, Op. 42, a work he first performed with the Vancouver Chamber Choir in 1976. This is not the Saint Nick with the fake beard at your local shopping mall. Britten's setting tells the story of the real Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, Lycia, and it includes a section titled Nicolas and the Pickled Boys, depicting a scene of cannibalism that rivals the brothers Grimm for weirdness. You must see it to believe it! Rounding out the program is the festive Gloria by Vivaldi.
Canadian premiere of El Niño
Dec. 15 at 8 p.m., Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver
Vancouver Bach Choir and Children’s Chorus
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Leslie Dala, conductor
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Bubeck, Steven Rickards, Brian Cummings, countertenors
Gregory Dahl, baritone
We’re adding an 11th concert to this top 10 list because we couldn’t omit this sensational Canadian premiere of John Adams’s El Niño. The Vancouver Bach Choir calls it “a Messiah for the modern age.” For his oratorio, Adams tells the story of Jesus’s birth by setting to music texts from pre-Christian prophets, canonical and Gnostic gospels, and mid-20th century Hispanic poetry. We predict El Niño will cause a general warming trend in the hearts of all who attend this concert.
Would you like to tell us about a Christmas concert coming up in your community? Leave a comment below, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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on Nov 21, 2012