UPDATE 11/30/12: Corrected date of Michael Unger's concert at Memorial Art Gallery; it takes place December 16.
This time of year is filled with wonder and with dread. Whether you like to cook and shop or you don't, your feet and your wallet quickly poop out. So why not support a local musician and treat yourself and your loved ones to a classical concert (or two)? Between music-school graduates and professional musicians, Rochester is teeming with outstanding musical offerings. And, during the holidays, many smaller groups perform, such that there are as many suburban offerings as city offerings from which to choose.
Here's a look at a selection of upcoming holiday-music offerings from classical-music groups in the greater Rochester area. Did we miss something? Add it to the comments section of this article at rochestercitynewspaper.com.
Wednesdays at noon bid you welcome to the Hochstein School of Music & Dance for the "Live from Hochstein" concert series (50 N. Plymouth Ave., noon, free) that is broadcast on WXXI 91.5 FM. Take an hour away from holiday stress to enjoy holiday music for horns (December 5) and "A Cup of Good Cheer" with Madrigalia (December 12). While we're on the subject of Hochstein, if you head out early to the shops, stop by the school's annual "performathon" at Eastview Mall Saturday and Sunday, December 1-2 (noon-6 p.m., free). Hochstein students and faculty offer additional concerts during the holidays, so check the website at hochstein.org.
You can also kick off the season at "With Joyous Note" performed by the Genesee Valley Orchestra & Chorus (GVOC.org). On Saturday, December 1, the group presents Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's "Magnificat" and Kirke Mechem's "Seven Joys of Christmas," along with other seasonal favorites (7:30 p.m.; $10-$12; Perinton Presbyterian Church, 6511 Pittsford-Palmyra Road, Fairport).
The Amadeus Chorale also has several concerts planned this holiday season, including performances December 1-2 with the Spencerport Community Chorus (Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.; free; Historic White Church, 65 Church St., Spencerport) and a "'Twas the Night before Christmas" concert event on Friday, December 14 (7 p.m.; $10; Penfield High School, 25 High School Drive, Penfield). See TheAmadeusChorale.org for more information.
While you're in Penfield, don't miss the Sunday, December 2, holiday concert of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra, David Harman, conductor. Selections include Mendelssohn's "Reformation Symphony," along with holiday favorites for orchestra and handbell choir (7:30 p.m.; $12-$14/free for students; Penfield High School; PenfieldSymphony.org).
Your first chance to hear Handel's "Messiah" is on Sunday, December 2, presented by the Rochester Chamber Orchestra, with the Festival Singers and the Bach Children's Chorus (7 p.m.; $10-$25; Hochstein School of Music & Dance, 50 N. Plymouth St.; RochesterChamberOrchestra.org). The "Messiah" can next be heard on Saturday, December 8, this time by the Rochester Oratorio Society with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (7:30 p.m.; $18-$65; Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre; RPO.org).
Choices really do abound for December 2, as offerings also include Concentus, a women's chorus, in its concert "Make We Joy" at Asbury First United Methodist Church. The concert is followed by a reception and the release of the Concentus new holiday CD. (3 p.m.; free; 1050 East Ave.; Concentus.org).
Two venues offer too many concerts to list: Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester. Among the ESM offerings are the Eastman Philharmonia with a concert on Monday, December 3, that includes Wagner, Mozart, and Brahms (8 p.m.; free; Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre). On Friday, December 7, under the baton of William Weinert, catch the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra in a concert "Rule Britannia," including Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem" (8 p.m.; free; Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre). Consult esm.rochester.edu for a comprehensive calendar with concert details.
The University of Rochester Music Department has concert offerings like Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" on Saturday, December 1, presented by its symphony orchestra (8 p.m.; free; Strong Auditorium), Britten's "Simple Symphony" by its Chamber Orchestra on Tuesday, December 4 (8 p.m.; free; Strong Auditorium), and a holiday celebration of gospel choir and brass choir on Friday, December 7 (3 p.m.; free; Goergen Building). Check the website at Rochester.edu/college/MUR/concerts for additional details.
You may already know the elegant Italian Baroque organ at the Memorial Art Gallery for its weekly Sunday afternoon concerts. On Sunday, December 16, organist Michael Unger and others from ESM will lead a festive holiday concert with singers and instrumentalists, including an audience sing-along (5:30 p.m.; $5-$10; 500 University Avenue; mag.rochester.edu). Unger could do with his own website so that you don't miss two other opportunities to hear his thoughtful programming of organ music. Catch him on Sunday, December 9, at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word church for holiday music, including a rarely performed cantata by Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (7 p.m.; $10 suggested donation; 597 East Ave.). Just in case you're too hurried at the holidays, put Unger on your calendar for Sunday, January 6, again at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word for a program that includes Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" and selections from John Rutter's "Dancing Day" (7 p.m.; $10 suggested).
Where would the season be without the angelic voices of Musica Spei? The group is performing a cappella on December 6 & 7 in a concert titled "Evermore and Evermore: Carols Then and Now," featuring old tunes and the standard hymns written around them (Thursday 12/6 at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 28 Lincoln St., Pittsford, 7:30 p.m.; Friday 12/7 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Dansville; wp.MusicaSpei.org).
Don't miss out on classical music recitals being presented in churches; many are independent of any religious services. For example, at the Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church, you can find the trombone quartet Inner City Sliders with festive music of the season on Friday, December 7 (7 p.m.; free will offering; 1200 S. Winton Road, Brighton).
If you're looking for something truly different, how about a "flash mob" holiday concert at Eastview Mall with Cordancia on Saturday, December 8, at 4 p.m.? Keep an eye on cordancia.org for more information; it's under wraps until then.
If by Sunday, December 9 you're after some solid classical music to take a break from muzak on your car radio, settle into a seat at the Memorial Art Gallery for chamber music of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven performed by the Argos Trio presented by Chamber Music of Rochester (7:30 p.m.; $10-$30; ChamberMusicRochester.org).
Other vocal groups fa-la-laing this time of year include Madrigalia, which this year performs two concerts, on Friday, December 14, at the Third Presbyterian Church (7:30 p.m.; $5-$15; 4 Meigs Street) and Sunday, December 16, at the Downtown Presbyterian Church (4 p.m.; $5-$15; 121 N. Fitzhugh St.). Both concerts include the Third Church Ringers. Learn more and purchase tickets at Madrigalia.org.
Another choral group to chase away hum-bug is the Lyric Chorale, and its concert may be the most interesting holiday offering this season. Titled "Ave Maria: Images of Mary," the group selected a program that includes Bach's "Magnificat in D," along with settings of "Ave Maria" by Mendelssohn, Jessica Franchi, and Franz Biebl, as well as other Marian choral works. Performances will be held on Saturday, December 15 (7:30 p.m.; $12-$18; St. Louis Church, 60 Main St., Pittsford) and again on Sunday, December 16 (2:30 p.m.; $12-$18; Faith Lutheran Church, 2576 Browncroft Blvd.). For more information visit LyricChorale.org.
Circling back to the Rochester Oratorio Society for a moment, you can also hear the group in a performance titled "Garland of Carols" at the Linehan Chapel at Nazareth College on Saturday, December 15 (7:30 p.m.; $10-$25; ROSSings.org). That same night Nazareth will host a holiday concert of Medieval music by early-music group Anonymous 4 in the Arts Center (8 p.m.; $30-$60; 4245 East Ave.; artscenter.naz.edu).
If you're still up for another concert, how about the Irondequoit Chorale, in a Christmas cantata by local composers Nancy Price and Don Besig, titled "The Wondrous Story." It's being performed on Sunday, December 16 (3 p.m.; free; Irondequoit United Church of Christ, 644 Titus Ave.). Find details at TheIronequoitChorale.org.
While its performances of "The Nutcracker" have concluded for the year, with the annual "Holiday Pops" program the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Pops will bring four energetic performances with Jeff Tyzik at the conductor's podium. The orchestra will be joined by the Festival High School Chorale for the program, which runs Friday, December 21-Sunday, December 23 at Kodak Hall ($10-$79; RPO.org).
Tidying up the holiday calendar is Vox Lumine, coming into town from Fillmore, NY, with three concert offerings December 20-23, advertised as familiar songs of the season "[to] bring back a flood of memories of joyous celebration" (Thursday 12/20 at Third Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh St.; Friday 12/21 at St. Peter and Paul Church in Hamburg; Saturday 12/22 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 48 Perrin St., Fairport; all performances start at 7:30 p.m.). Check VoxLumine.org for more info.