With the year's early Thanksgiving, the Holiday hubbub is already looming. Holiday commercials flood the media. Goods are flying off Amazon’s virtual shelves. Cans of cranberries are suddenly prized items. There’s wrapping and running and hectic madcap everywhere.
It is the best of times to stop and relax with the sonorous sounds of the musical offerings that the area puts forth every year. Even here the season’s mania is widely on display. As always Dallas is presenting a fabulously varied and busy concert schedule with everything for the discerning palate. The problem will be in not finding something to hear, but in fitting in all the offerings.
There are traditions galore, in addition to a smattering of avant garde, and samplings of every genre, from classical to jazz, that comprises the large Santa’s sack of “holiday music.” The season begins Thanksgiving weekend with Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s concert performance of selections from Tchaikovsky’s ballets The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty (November 23-25) and runs through the stroke of midnight (or nearly that) on New Year’s 2019.
Of note this year is a preponderance of John Williams music, cementing his place in the canon of Christmas muses alongside Handel and Irving Berlin (both of whom are also on display). The DSO has a weekend devoted to his holiday contributions (include an abbreviated family concert on Sunday, Dec 2), his score to the movie Home Alone is being played in synchrony to the film by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra on December 15 and the DSO returns him front and center with film accompaniment to Star Wars: A New Hope on December 20-22. If this last performance seems out of Christmas character, think of it either as anodyne from the holiday treacle or in tune with the ancient tradition of Christmas story-telling which also accommodates UNT College of Music Opera’s performance of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen (through Dec 1), and Verdigris Ensemble’s clever collaboration with the Avant Chamber Ballet on David Lange’s unique Little Match Girl Passion (Dec 7- 8).
Both major orchestras will have Pops type concerts. DSO’s eponymous “Christmas Pops” runs from Dec. 7-16, conducted by Lawrence Loh and featuring soprano Katy Shackleton Williams and the Dallas Symphony Chorus. In addition, the orchestra is hosting Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on Dec 5 and a raucous “Big Brassy Christmas and Organ Extravaganza” on Dec 10 (repeated in Frisco on Dec 11). Across the Metroplex, the FWSO kicks off the holiday season on Nov. 23-25 with a “Home For the Holidays” concert, performs Messiah on Dec. 3 with the University of North Texas A Cappella Choir, has a general “Sounds of the Season” performance on Dec 13, and offers Home Alone Dec 15, before bringing their music to the community in a pay-what-you-wish concert at Arborlawn United Methodist Church on Dec. 21.
Dallas Winds will present a “Christmas at the Meyerson” featuring Elmer Churampi as trumpet soloist on Dec 17. As brassy and bold as this Spectacle may be, it is unlikely to hold a candle to Turtle Creek Chorale’s annual extravaganza, this year entitle “Shimmer and Shine” which takes over the Moody from Dec 14 – 16.
For a presumably more sedate choral experience, Orpheus Chamber Singers present “Wintersong” on Dec. 14 and 15 at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic and Dec. 18 at the Church of the Transfiguration, featuring such spiritual and mystic pieces as Biebl’s setting of Ave Maria and Gjello’s stirring O magnum mysterium, accompanied on the program by Latin American villancicos. Meanwhile, the venerable Arts District Chorale’s The Holly and the Ivy: Sweet Singing in the Choir (All Saints Catholic Church, Dec. 8) features multiple settings of the title piece joined with a series of Ave Maria and other Marian anthems. Meanwhile, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas presents their take on holiday favorites in “Sleigh Ride” on Dec. 2.
For the Baroque minded, or those for whom FWSO’s Messiah is just an amuse bouche, The Dallas Bach Society offers a “Baroque Christmas” on Dec 8, featuring Bach and several of his French and Italian contemporaries and topped off with caroling in German as has become a tradition. They will lead a Messiah sing-along on Dec 22, followed by a performance of the entire oratorio with baroque instruments on Dec 23. Finally, on Dec. 31, the ensemble will perform an entire Bach concert to shepherd in the New Year. Staying within the same time period, The Orchestra of New Spain presents “Christmas at Christ the King” on Dec 9, featuring the Handel Gloria and a range of Christmas cantatas from Europe and villancicos from Spain and the New World.
There is a world of other offerings by church and community ensembles leading up to Christmas. Honorable mention to Garland Symphony’s creative design and programming for their concert “Holiday of Color” (Dec. 14 at the Granville Arts Center in Garland) which will feature not only “Greensleeves,” “Silver Bells” and White Christmas” but also a rare performance of Duke Ellington’s “Three Black Kings”). (You can also catch the same program by the same group under different names, as Symphony Arlington on Dec. 13 at Arlington Music Hall; and Las Colinas Sympnony Orchestra on Dec. 15 at the Irving Arts Center).
The Richardson Symphony presents a “Holiday Concert” on Dec. 1 at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson; and the Plano Symphony has three “Home for the Holidays” concerts: Dec. 14 at Frisco High School; and Dec. 15 and 16 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Plano. The Irving Symphony also has a “Home for the Holidays” program on Dec. 8 at the Irving Arts Center.
And for something completely different for the holidays, the group Opera in Concert opens its fifth season with “A Night in Berlin,” featuring complete performances in English of Mahagonny Songspiel by Bert Brecht and Kurt Weill and The Tide by Boris Blacher. This event is Nov. 30 at Sammons Center for the Arts in Dallas.
New Year’s returns to the symphonies. At the same time the Bach Society serenades with Bach favorites, The FWSO “ring-a-dings” in the New Year with “My Sinatra” featuring off-Broadway performer Cary Hoffman. Meanwhile, the DSO takes a more traditional approach with Strauss waltzes and champagne toast, albeit spiced up with selections by Bernstein and Gershwin.
The whole world of Holiday Music awaits the intrepid listener. Whether jazz, baroque, traditional, pops or modern, the sounds of music will be a sweet holiday treat through the long season.
Here’s a list, starting with selections at our music sponsor University of North Texas; followed by performances of Handel’s Messiah; and then concerts are listed chronologically, closing with a list of New Year’s Eve music performances:
Because TheaterJones now operates under the umbrella of the non-profit Metropolitan Arts Media, we are noting our MAM sponsors in the list below. Arts organization and venue sponsors are noted in RED.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS
Metropolitan Arts Media, which is the non-profit that now runs TheaterJones.com, is proud to have the UNT College of Music as the sponsor of our music coverage for the 2018-19 season. UNT, which is one of the top music schools in the country, has hundreds of concerts, recitals and performances, all accessible via its new website and a comprehensive calendar, which you can see here.
A few highlights:
Nov. 28: The UNT Symphony performs works by Smetana and Dvořák at the Murchison Performing Arts Center, Winspear Performance Hall, conducted by music director Clay Couturiaux (who is also music director of the Richardson Symphony)
Nov. 30: “A Bassoon Christmas” featuring bassoon and contrabassoon at the College of Music Building, Music Commons (at noon)
Dec. 1: The UNT International Festival of Czech Music Academic Conference is Dec. 1, and features a final performance of UNT Opera’s terrific staging of Leos Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. You can read our review here.
Dec. 3: The UNT A Cappella Choir performs Hanel’s Messiah with the Fort Worth Symphony at Bass Performance Hall
Dec. 7: The renowned One O’Clock Lab Band presents its holiday concert at McDavid Studio, next to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth
Dec. 20: UNT hosts one of three local locations for the annual TubaChristmas, on the UNT Campus. The others are in Fort Worth (Dec. 21 at Texas Christian University) and Dallas (December 24 at Thanks-giving Square). You can see all Texas locations for TubaChristmas here.
Dec. 3: The Fort Worth Symphony presents Handel’s Messiah, featuring the University of North Texas A Cappella Choir, at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth: More info: www.fwsymphony.org
Dec. 22: Dallas Bach Society presents “Messiah Sing-along” at Zion Lutheran Church, Dallas. More info: www.dallasbach.org
Dec. 23: Dallas Bach Society presents Handel’s Messiah at Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas. More info: www.dallasbach.org
Nov. 23-25: The Dallas Sympony Orchestra presents selections from Tchaikovsky’s ballets The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Nov. 23-25: The Fort Worth Symphony presents “Home for the Holidays” at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth: More info: www.fwsymphony.org
Nov. 30-Dec. 2: The Dallas Sympony Orchestra presents “A John Williams Christmas” with the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Nov. 30: Opera in Concert presents “A Night in Berlin” at Sammons Center for the Arts in Dallas. More info: www.operainconcert.org
Dec 1: The Richardson Symphony presents a “Holiday Concert” on Dec. 1 at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson. More info: www.richardsonsymphony.org
Dec. 2: Women’s Chorus of Dallas presents “Sleigh Ride” at Moody Performance Hall, Dallas. More info: www.thewomenschorusofdallas.com
Dec. 4: The Dallas Sympnony presents “Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis” at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 7-16: Dallas Symphony presents “Christmas Pops” at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 8: Dallas Bach Society presents “A Baroque Christmas” at Zion Lutheran Church, Dallas. More info: www.dallasbach.org
Dec. 8: Arts District Chorale: presents “The Holly and the Ivy: Sweet Singing of the Choir” at All Saints Catholic Church, Dallas. More info: www.artsdistrictchorale.org
Dec. 8: The Irving Symphony also has a “Home for the Holidays” program at the Irving Arts Center. More info: www.irvingsymphony.com
Dec. 8: Chamber Music International presents music by Bright Sheng, Tsang-Houei Hsu and Dvořák at St. Barnabas Presbyterian Church, Richardson. More info: www.chambermusicinternational.org
Dec. 9: Orchestra of New Spain presents “Christmas at Christ the King,” at Christ the King Church, Dallas. More info: www.orchestraofnewspain.org
Dec. 10: The Dallas Symphony presents “Big Brassy Christmas and Organ Extravaganza” at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 11: The Dallas Symphony presents “Big Brassy Christmas and Organ Extravaganza” at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 13: The Fort Worth Symphony presents “Sounds of the Season” at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake
Dec. 14-16: The Plano Symphony has three “Home for the Holidays” concerts: Dec. 14 at Frisco High School; and Dec. 15 and 16 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Plano. More info: www.planosymphony.org
Dec. 14-16: Turtle Creek Chorale presents “Shimmer and Shine: A Holiday Spectacular” at Moody Performance Hall, Dallas. More info: www.turtlecreekchorale.com
Dec. 14-15: Orpheus Chamber Singers presents “Wintersong” at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Dallas. More info: www.orpheuschambersingers.org
Dec. 15: The Fort Worth Symphony presents “Home Alone with Orchestra” at Will Rogers Auditorium, Fort Worth. More info: www.fwsymphony.org
Dec. 17: Dallas Winds presents “Christmas at the Meyerson” at the Meyerson Symphony Center. More info: www.dallaswinds.org
Dec. 18: Orpheus Chamber Singers presents “Wintersong” Church of the Transfiguration, Dallas. More info: www.orpheuschambersingers.org
Dec. 20-22: The Dallas Symphony presents “Star Wars: A New Hope – Movie in Concert” at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 20-24: The annual TubaChristmas happens in three North Texas cities: Dec 20 at University of North Texas in Denton; Dec. 21 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth; and Dec. 24 at Thanks-giving Square, Dallas. You can see all Texas locations for TubaChristmas here.
Dec. 21: The Fort Worth Symphony presents “Sounds of the Season” at Arborlawn United Methodist Church in Fort Worth
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Dec. 31: The Dallas Symphony presents a New Year’s Eve concert with selections by Bernstein, J. Strauss, Ginastera and Schubert, at the Meyerson Sympnony Center. More info: www.mydso.com
Dec. 31: The Fort Worth Symphony presents “New Year’s Eve: My Sinatra” at Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth: More info: www.fwsymphony.org
Dec. 31: Dallas Bach Society presents “New Year’s Eve: Bach Favorites” at Zion Lutheran Church, Dallas. More info: www.dallasbach.org