Everything classical for the holidays

The things you expect, and a few you don’t, are on the program

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The 2013 Holiday Concert put on by the College of Music in Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
Casey A. Cass, University of Colorado

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King have fought their annual battles, the flowers have waltzed and several Messiahs have been sung, but there’s still a lot of holiday music to come.

In fact, there is one more chance to catch the Sugar Plum Fairy, when Centennial State Ballet presents The Nutcracker Dec. 21–23 at Niwot High School. Their 18th annual production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet features a live orchestra and guest artist Matthew Helms from Boulder Ballet.

In the meantime, here are the other holiday performances from the classical music world in and around Boulder.

First up — and likely sold out by the time this article runs — is the annual CU Holiday Festival performance (Dec. 7–9) at Macky Auditorium. Featuring student bands, choirs and orchestras from the CU School of Music, this annual concert of holiday favorites is one of Boulder’s most popular events. This year’s program features “Silent Night,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” dances from The Nutcracker and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah. Every year I remind readers: If you don’t want to miss out, start planning now for next year’s performances.

Local choral groups offer their own individual takes on the holiday season. Conductor Thomas Edward Morgan and Ars Nova Singers usually come up with a distinctive program, and this year is no exception. The first half of “In the Moon at Wintertime” (Dec. 7, 9, 13 and 15) will be the world premiere of The Consolation of Apollo by Kile Smith, a work written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8.

The flight, which provided the iconic “Earthrise” photo, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968. For his text, Smith chose portions of transcripts from Apollo 8’s communications from space, combined with selections from The Consolation of Philosophy by the 6th-century author Boethius. After intermission, Ars Nova will perform both traditional music and rarely-heard music for the holiday season.

Boulder Chorale gathers all of its constituent organizations, including both adult and children’s choirs, for their annual holiday performances (Dec. 15-16). This year’s program, titled “Let Your Heart be Light,” will include a holiday market with baked goods and locally made crafts. Artistic Director Vicki Burrichter conducts the performances.

The Longmont Symphony’s annual Candlelight Concert will be presented in conjunction with the Longmont Chorale Singers and soprano Ekaterina Kotcherguina. Schubert’s Mass in G will form a portion of the program followed by Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves and other music for the Christmas season. The LSO’s Elliot Moore and Scott Hamlin from the Longmont Chorale will share conducting duties.

This year’s holiday guest attraction for CU Presents will be “Christmas Time is Here,” performed by the Canadian Brass (Dec. 17). Known for performing in tuxedos and running shoes, the group keeps renewing itself with younger players. This is another event that is on schedule to sell out, so check the web page before getting your hopes up.

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra offers “The Gift of Music” as the final classical concert on our holiday schedule (Dec. 21–22). The program includes a Mozart Piano Concerto along with Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto” and some attractive arrangements of Christmas music by — off all unlikely sources — Arnold Schoenberg. This is not the Schoenberg of groundbreaking atonality: conductor Bahman Saless promises music that is easy to enjoy.

Performance details and ticket information on these holiday events is given below.