Classical Christmas Concerts
Even the bah humbugs of the festive season can’t deny that it brings some fabulous music along with the tinsel and the tat. Christmas straight from movie scores, Christmas music for children, carols with and without candlelight for choirs of all sounds and sizes and, of course, Handel’s Messiah mean that singers and instrumentalists, whether amateur or professional, are in for a busy time of it over these next couple of weeks. For those who would like to perform but haven’t quite made it to the platform, there are plenty chances to open up the vocal cords and join in whenever the usually cringe-making words ‘audience participation’ appear. There is nothing to beat belting out Hark, the Herald and We Wish You a Merry Christmas in the company of people who started the evening as strangers but are brought together through shared raising of the rafters.
How else, for instance, would you get to sing with the RSNO under the baton of Christopher Bell, renowned conductor of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the National Youth Choir of Scotland? Their Christmas concerts (Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Dec; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 19 Dec) feature The Snowman, narrated by Tom Conti, in the first half and no end of opportunity to sing your heart out in the second.
For those of a more reflective disposition, the Georgian Concert Society offer Le Jardin Secret: In the Still of the Night (St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 19 Dec), a baroque celebration of intimate, but lively, settings of traditional carols from France and England. Line-up is soprano with period guitar, viola da gamba and harpsichord.
No Christmas is complete without Messiah and the Dunedin Consort’s version (Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Wed 23 Dec) is nearest to what Handel heard when it was first performed in Dublin in 1742. Just seven singers sing all the choruses and the solo parts. Dunedin’s recording of Messiah won Classic FM’s Gramophone Award for best baroque vocal album on the year in 2007.
Christmas concerts, various dates and venues, see classical listings