Nutcrackers, a complete ‘Messiah,’ and everything classical for the holidays

So many events you’d have to scurry like a bunny to attend them all

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

Trying to get to all of the holiday musical events in Boulder will turn you into a real-world equivalent of Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit: scurrying around, checking your pocket watch, and constantly late for a “very important date.”

A limited number of tickets are still available to the University of Colorado Boulder’s popular Holiday Festival (Dec. 6-8).

This shared extravaganza by CU College of Music student choirs, bands and orchestras is one of Boulder’s most popular holiday events, and all four Macky Auditorium performances commonly sell out. Give CU Presents a call to see what’s left, 303-492-8008, or try a last-minute walk-up purchase at the Macky box office prior to curtain.

By sheer numbers, the most popular holiday event nationwide must be Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. In cities large and small, audiences never tire of the sugar plum fairy, Dr. Drosselmeyer’s magic nutcracker, and Clara’s dream-world journey to the land of sweets. 

Boulder Ballet’s performances of Nutcracker with the Boulder Philharmonic have already run their course, but all is not lost: Boulder Ballet performs the same production in collaboration with the Longmont Symphony Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 7 and 8) in Vance Brand Civic Auditorium.

Boulder Ballet and the LSO will also present a “gentle” Nutcracker performance for individuals with special needs and their families. The ballet will be abridged, the house lights will be left on, involuntary movement is welcomed, and there will be an EMT onsite for emergencies. Tickets can be purchased from the LSO office at 303-772-5796.

And if you are still scurrying about later in the month, Centennial State Ballet’s annual Nutcracker will be performed in Niwot High School, with a professional orchestra, Dec. 20–22. For tickets, contact CSB at 303-772-1335.

If anything equals Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker in popularity during the Christmas season, it can only be Handel’s Messiah. This great oratorio opens with biblical texts describing the birth of Jesus. The Christmas section of Messiah is ubiquitous in December, while complete performances add two more sections that tell the stories of the Passion and the Resurrection. 

Conductor Elliot Moore and the Longmont Symphony will present the complete Messiah with the Longmont Chorale’s Viva Voce singers Dec. 15 at the Westview Presbyterian Church in Longmont. Soprano Ekaterina Kotcherguina, mezzo-soprano Claire McCahan, tenor Charles Moore and bass Joshua South will be the soloists. Contact the LSO for tickets at

The Christmas portions of Messiah will be performed by conductor Gary Lewis with the Boulder Philharmonic and choir as part of Christmas with the Phil, Dec. 22 at Mountain View Methodist Church. Soloists will be soprano Bethany Smith-Jacobs, alto Anna Englander, tenor Javier Abreu and bass Ashraf Sewailam. The concert will also feature the Phil’s concertmaster, Charles Wetherbee, in portions of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos. 

Tickets are available at 303-449-1343.

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Those with a taste for folk music will enjoy A Celtic Family Christmas, featuring the married fiddle-playing duo of Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. The Canadian couple take “family programming” literally, bringing their own children onstage to perform along with them. Tickets for their Dec. 17 performance at Macky Auditorium are available: CU Presents, 303-492-8008.

Director Thomas Edward Morgan and Boulder’s Ars Nova Singers will present Northern Lights, their 2019 holiday program. Four performances between Dec. 6 and 13 will be given in Longmont, Denver and Boulder. Harpist Jon McColley will appear with the singers.

The featured work will be the Renaissance-era double-chorus Missa Hodie Christus natus est by Palestrina. Works for multiple choirs have become something of a specialty for Ars Nova, but the program will also include standard holiday repertoire in Ars Nova’s own arrangements. Ticket information can be found on Ars Nova’s Web page, at

Two-hundred singers from the six adult and children’s choirs of the Boulder Chorale will perform The Brightest and Best Holiday Concert, Dec. 14 and 15 at the First United Methodist Church in Boulder. With an emphasis on Americana, the performance under director Vicki Burrichter will feature a bluegrass ensemble and music by Dolly Parton. The performance ends with a traditional audience sing-along of traditional Carols. Contact Boulder Chorale at 303-554-7692 for ticket information.  

2019 Schedule of Boulder County Classical Holiday Concerts:

CU Holiday Festival.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6

1 & 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7

4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8

Macky Auditorium, 1595 Pleasant St., Boulder.

Northern Lights.

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6

United Church of Christ, 1500 Ninth Ave., Longmont

7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 12 and 13

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., Boulder.

Gentle ‘Nutcracker’ — Longmont Symphony — with Boulder Ballet.

Abridged version of ‘The Nutcracker’ for individuals with special needs

1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7

Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, 600 E. Mountain View Ave., Longmont.

‘The Nutcracker’ Ballet — Longmont Symphony — with Boulder Ballet.

4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7

2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8

Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, 600 E. Mountain View Ave., Longmont.

Brightest & Best Holiday Concert — Boulder Chorale and Children’s Chorale. 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14, and Dec. 15 First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder.

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ — Longmont Symphony — with the Longmont Chorale Viva voce. 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 Westview Presbyterian Church, 1500 Hoover, Longmont.

A Celtic Family Christmas — Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 Macky Aud., 1595 Pleasant St., Boulder.

‘The Nutcracker’ — Centennial State Ballet.

7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20

2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21

1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22

Niwot High School Auditorium, 8989 Niwot Road, Niwot.

Christmas with the Phil — Boulder Philharmonic.

2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22

Mountain View Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place, Boulder.

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