This is a phenomenal part of the year for music, and one of the best cities in the country for choral music. Between the Cathedral Choral Society, the Washington Men’s Camerata, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the Christmas Revels, the Folger Consort, Choralis, the GMCW, you could pack your December full of great concerts, and we’ve got a good look at what’s coming this Christmas to audiences all throughout the DC area.
After Thursday’s lighting of the National Christmas Tree, and really since the week before, it’s been Christmas Music season here in Washington, and there’s a lot to be excited about in this year’s batch of concerts:
Washington Men’s Camerata
Concerts Remaining: December 11th, 4:00pm, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda (Tickets are $25)
Musical Director Frank Albinder has worked with just about every big choir in the region, from UVA’s Glee Club, to the Woodley Ensemble, since arriving in 1999 after a period with San Francisco’s famous Chanticleer. Look for an excellent mix of the sacred and the secular from the 40-plus men’s voices that make up the Camerata. This one’s worth a trip to MoCo.
Cathedral Choral Society
Concerts: December 10th at noon and 4pm, December 11th at 4pm, Washington National Cathedral ($25-$85)
Though the finials are still scaffolded, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to hear a concert in the DC area, especially if you love big open spaces with incredible echoes. In addition to the usual carols, look for some British influence, with Charles Dickens being a focus of the concert in places this year.
Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC
Concerts: December 16, 8pm; December 17, 3pm & 8pm; December 18, 3pm at Lisner Auditorium ($20-$50)
Ellen Greene may be famous for her portrayal of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, but she’ll be performing with the GMCW this Christmas season as part of their Red & Greene show. As they say, “there’s no place like homo for the holidays.” All I can say is: “Well ain’t that the truth.”
Performances: December 9, 8pm; December 10, 5pm & 8pm; December 11, 2pm & 5pm; December 14, 7:30pm; December 15, 7:30pm, December 16, 8pm; December 17, 2pm & 5pm; December 18, 2pm & 5pm at the Folger Theater ($45).
Keeping with the Spanish theme, the Folger Consort will be exploring the Spanish Renaissance including works by Victoria (my personal favorite from the Renaissance), Morales and Guerrero
Choral Arts Society of Washington
Concerts: December 19th, 7pm; December 21, 7pm; December 24, 1pm, Kennedy Center Concert Hall ($15-65)
This is the final season for director Norman Scribner, whose accomplishments are far too long to list here. His program for Christmas this year reflects some of the artistic forbidden fruit from earlier in his career when perhaps Russian music were eschewed as the work of the enemy. The Rachmaninoff Vespers, Bishop Alfeyev’s Christmas Oratorio, Tchaikovsky’s Snow Maiden. Gorgeous stuff for the season, and the last Christmas with one of Washington’s amazing gifts.
Performances: December 9, 8pm; December 10, 8pm; December 11, 5pm; at Falls Church Presbyterian ($25-45)
This is where you’ll find me each night next weekend, as I’m performing with Choralis as part of their bass section. Yes, I may be a little biased, but the Rutter Gloria is hard not to love, and the Classical Brass Quintet is fairly amazing. Don’t be afraid of the trip out to Falls Church.
The Christmas Revels
Performances: December 9, 7:30pm; December 10, 2pm & 7:30pm; December 11, 1pm & 5pm, Lisner Auditorium ($18-45)
More than just a concert, the Revels are part theater, part concert, part spectacle. This year’s events carry a Spanish theme that spans three cultures, Sephardic, Moorish and Spanish. With a company of 75 performers, including Trio Sefardi and Layali El Andalus. It’s hard not to love the Revelers for their incredible charm, and to see them switching up their cultural influences from British to Spanish, it should be a new world for the Revelers.