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We must have been good this year

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One night I woke to the sound of sled runners and hooves on my roof. I couldn't see much out my bedroom window so I staggered downstairs. As he sprang from the fireplace, St. Nick opened his bag full of classical concerts to fill the season.

First, on November 19, there will be Ossia, the Eastman School's student-run expert New Music ensemble. They'll play Richard Strauss's sumptuously romantic string orchestra work Metamorphosen. Then on the same concert will be one of Gyorgy Ligeti's trailblazing avant-garde works, Ramifications, also for string orchestra. Pianists Marcus Macauley and David Plylar will fill the remainder of the concert with George Crumb's Zeitgeist for two amplified pianos and Charles Ives's Three Pieces for two pianos tuned a quartertone apart.

The yuletide mirth will continue a few weeks later, filling almost every evening from December 4 to 10. On December 4, Ossia plays live and electronic works by Stockhausen, Manzoni, Kancheli, and Beat Furrer in the lively acoustics and cozy atmosphere of Christ Church.

The next afternoon, Rochester's a cappella vocal ensemble Musica Spei will present "A Sacred Renaissance Christmas," the first of their two part "Isaac Project." They'd perform Virgo prudentissima by the Flemish Renaissance composer Heinrich Isaac, along with works of Isaac's predecessor Ockeghem, and contemporaries Josquin, Compere, and others.

Baroque music --- always a favorite at Christmas time --- will be performed the next evening, December 6, by the Eastman's School's Baroque ensemble Collegium Musicum, lead by Christel Thielmann and world-renowned lutenist Paul O'Dette. The next evening, the Boston Brass will fly in to perform a dazzling array of arrangements: works by Piazzolla, Ginastera, Liszt, Dvorak, Shostakovich, Khatchaturian, and Duke Ellington in Eastman's Kilbourn Hall.

Two days later, on December 9, the Eastman-Rochester Chorus will join forces with the Eastman Philharmonia to perform Stravinsky's icy hot choral masterpiece, the Symphony of Psalms, in the Eastman Theatre. The next evening, still in the Eastman Theatre, Brad Lubman will conduct the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra in Schoenberg's passionate and intricate Chamber Symphony No.1 (1906) and contemporary composer John Adams's own Chamber Symphony (1992), an unabashed tribute to the very same Schoenberg work.

Then there will be four days of rest followed, on December 15, by the Eastman faculty's 70th birthday concert for Russian-German composer Alfred Schnittke --- a grand gift to any fan of postmodern aesthetics.

In This Guide...

    Holiday Guide 2005

    It's easy to get rundown desperately seeking that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling It's easy to get rundown desperately seeking that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling.

    To dance like Clara

    By the time audiences see the annual Thanksgiving-time performances of The Nutcracker, with dancers provided by the Rochester City Ballet and music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the work is polished. The poise of the dancers, the memorable swells and leaps in Tchaikovsky's score, the dancing sweets and swirling snowflakes --- it all makes one seamless, magical whole.

    Making Scrooge memories

    You know it's December when the fight or flight instinct kicks in. If picking a fight with your sister-in-law has lost its appeal and escaping to Puerto Vallarta isn't in your budget, channel your energy in a new direction.

    The true spirit of Hollywood

    While there are inevitably a couple of movies every year set against Christmas --- but hardly a cavalcade of films about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, incidentally --- it's probably misleading to call this a holiday movie preview. If Jesus were blowing out candles in June, these flicks would still be squeezing in under the Academy deadline.

    Holiday calendar

    Theater A Christmas Carol Nov 26-Dec 26.

    Holiday classical calendar

    Classical Amadeus Chorale Fri, Dec 3.

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