Messiah, Tuba Christmas, and more holiday cheer

BSR Classical Music Interludes: December 2022

4 minute read
A portrait photo with the trio. Jie Jin stands by a cello, Yamazaki is centered, Mazzochchi holds a violin.
Pyxis Piano Trio. Left to right: Jie Jin, Hiroko Yamazaki, and Luigi Mazzocchi. (Photo by Shannon Woodloe.)

As always, there’s a gift bag of holiday musical delights in our region. December may be “the month of Handel’s Messiah,” but there’s also chamber music and opera—and don’t forget about Tuba Christmas!

Messiah Month
December 2-18
Various locations

For many classical music lovers, December’s biggest challenge is picking which performance of Handel’s Messiah to attend. To help, here are just a few: Vox Amadeus performs in three Main Line locations and in Philadelphia December 2 through 18. On December 3 and 4, the Wayne Oratorio Society offers their version with a hundred-voice chorus and professional orchestra. If you feel like singing along, on December 11, you can join in with Singing City and the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church choir. Of course, there’s a big one with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Symphonic Choir in Verizon Hall on December 15 and 16. And in Wilmington on December 18, players from Tempesta di Mare join the choir of Christ Church Christiana Hundred.

Opera Philadelphia
Saturday, December 3, 1pm
Thursday, December 8, 7pm
Saturday, January 21, 1pm
Various locations and streaming online

If Messiah is not your thing—or someone else’s—a perfect gift for any opera lover would be a subscription to this company’s Opera Channel or a holiday trip to a movie theater to see one of their highly regarded productions on film. After a stellar fall festival, and before their upcoming 2023 presentations, the busy company is presenting Opera on the Big Screen in movie houses all over the region on December 3 and 8, and January 21.

Pyxis Piano Trio
Thursday, December 8, 7:30pm
Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington

Sunday, December 11, 3pm
German Society of Pennsylvania, 611 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia

On December 8, Pyxis opens their 14th season in residence at the Delaware Art Museum’s Concerts on Kentmere series. In conversation with the recently opened exhibition of Evelyn and William De Morgan, the ensemble will play three works by Clara and Robert Schumann (also a married artistic couple) and some holiday favorites. Then on December 11, as part of the Wister & More series at Philadelphia’s German Society, they’ll offer more Schumann and Dvorak’s Piano Trio No. 3 in F minor.

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society: The Tallis Scholars
Thursday, December 8, 7:30pm
Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

This presenting organization is especially busy in December, and among their five offerings is a holiday highlight: the appearance of the renowned British vocal ensemble lauded for their exceptional singing. Getting ready for their 50th season, and back at PCMS by popular demand, Tallis will sing Hymns to the Virgin, works from composers in the Catholic and Orthodox sacred traditions ranging from Josquin to Stravinsky and Pärt.

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
Saturday, December 10, 7:30pm
Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

This Philly favorite ensemble always has wonderful offerings, and their holiday treat is a candlelight Christmas concert at the beautiful Church of the Holy Trinity located in festively decorated Rittenhouse Square. Italian Baroque Christmas will feature concerti grossi by four Italian composers of the period—Francesco Manfredini, Giuseppe Torelli, Pietro Antonio Locatelli, and the great Arcangelo Corelli, who wrote his 1690 Concerto Grosso in G minor to be played on Christmas Eve. The concert will highlight the virtuosity of the orchestra’s concertmaster/leader Min-Young Kim.

Tuba Christmas
Sunday, December 11, 12pm and 6pm
Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

Sunday, December 11, 7pm
Woodstown Presbyterian Church, 46 Auburn Road, Woodstown

For a one-of-a-kind musical treat, consider Tuba Christmas! It’s the 48th anniversary of this unique event where scores of tuba players gather to play beloved holiday tunes. It was conceived by Harvey Phillips in 1974 as a tribute to his teacher and mentor, William J. Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. Now, it’s a beloved worldwide celebration of the instrument. Check out the schedules—wherever it’s offered, the event is always free, but there’s a reservation form for the Kimmel.

Choral Arts Philadelphia
Saturday, December 31, 4pm
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 19 South 38th Street

It’s become a tradition for this ensemble to present a concert on New Year’s Eve. This year, at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, they’ll offer one of the great Baroque masterworks, J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. This piece consists of six cantatas originally performed in 1733-34 over the 12 days of Christmas, and the concert features a chorus, soloists, and the Philadelphia Bach Collegium Orchestra. It’s at 4pm, so fear not—you could still fit in a late-night event to celebrate the turning of the year.

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