Rekindle your holiday traditions with 8 great concerts by classic groups from Twin Cities

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Last December turned out to be a winter of discontent for those who cherish classical music performances to the taste of the holidays. But live concerts are back this year, some picking up on old traditions, others introducing new ways to mark the season. Here are eight that are worth capturing.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

In a triumph of teamwork, the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers will join instrumentalists from the Bach Society of Minnesota for four cantatas from JS Bach’s extensive opus on the birth of Jesus. Tenor Nicholas Chalmers has the meatiest role as the narrator. Philip Brunelle from VocalEssence and Matthias Maute from the Bach Society will divide the leadership tasks. (7:30 p.m. on December 3, Basilique Sainte-Marie, 1600 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., $ 20- $ 40, 612-371-5656 or vocalessence.org)

“What softer music” from the singers

The holiday concerts of this splendid chamber choir always open ears to recent compositions and offer solace with touches of the familiar. Matthew Culloton directs. (7:30 p.m. December 4, Catholic Church of the Annunciation, 509 W. 54th St., Mpls .; 3 p.m. December 5, Westwood Lutheran Church, 9001 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park; 2 p.m. December 12 , Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 1938 Stanford Av., St. Paul, $ 5-30 $, singersmca.org)

“Amahl and the Night Visitors”

The extremely talented Skylark Opera Theater artistic director Bob Neu has left for a directing position with the Utah Symphony and the Utah Opera, but Skylark continues to perform and returns to the show with the hour-long family opera by Gian Carlo Menotti on a child. who assists these three kings on the way to Bethlehem. (December 4-19, Boss Stage, Park Square Theater, 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul, $ 20- $ 35, skylarkopera.org)

SPCO ‘Brandenburg’

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra continues its annual tradition of performing six “Brandenburg” Bach concertos, arguably the pinnacle of baroque instrumental music. The SPCO will offer issues one to three from December 9 to 11 and four to six from December 17 to 19. The concerts on December 11 and 18 will also be broadcast live. If you want a little more information on Second Brandenburg, Rob Kapilow will be talking about “What Makes It Great” on December 16th. (December 9-19, Ordway Concert Hall, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, $ 5- $ 50, 651-291-1144 or thespco.org)

“Christmas with Cantus”

The eight-man vocal group will mix Christmas carols and contemporary holiday songs with three stories: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree” and “Dakota and the Snow Phoenix”. In addition to performances in 10 different venues over 12 days, a streaming performance will also be available from December 17 to January 1. 2. (December 10 to 21 in various locations, $ 5 to $ 42, cantussings.org)

“Edward Tulane Choir Suite”

When COVID hit town, the Minnesota Opera House was preparing to present Paola Prestini’s lyrical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s book for young readers about a stuffed bunny in search of his family, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane “. The company now plans to present it next season, but in the meantime Prestini has created some sort of oratorio version that will air from December 13. (Free, mnopera.org)

Bach’s “Messiah”

For those mourning the fact that neither the Minnesota Orchestra nor the SPCO perform Handel’s “Messiah” in December (although the SPCO will air a past performance on December 4), there are other options. This one looks the most promising, as the Bach Roots Festival has attracted top performers. And you can even catch it at the Basilica, if that’s your tradition. (8 p.m. December 17, St. Mary’s Basilica, 1600 Hennepin S. Ave., Mpls .; 7:30 p.m. December 18, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 900 Summit Av., St. Paul; 2:00 p.m. 19 December, St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, 17205 County Road 6, Plymouth, $ 8- $ 44, bachrootsfestival.com)

Sibelius Festival

What are you doing on new year’s eve? How about helping conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra kick off his final season’s flagship project as Music Director? For three weeks, they will perform the seven symphonies of Jean Sibelius, two versions of his Violin Concerto and on the opening night, three songs performed by the powerful voice of Finnish soprano Helena Juntunen. (8:30 p.m. on December 31 to 2 p.m. on January 1, Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $ 47-130, 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org)

Rob Hubbard is a classical music critic from Twin Cities. [email protected]

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