Christmas Music in Boston

Memorial Hall

Both your Ramblers love all things Yuletide. And even if you’re one of those Scrooges who grumbles about the Christmas season starting in the middle of October, this is the time to get tickets for your favorite holiday concerts — before obnoxiously festive jingle bellers like us snatch them all up.

The Boston area provides a wealth of Noel-themed performances. A selection:

Combine a concert here with a stroll through the Public Garden or some luxe holiday shopping.

The Cambridge Chamber Singers. My personal favorite (especially since my friend Sarah sings with them), they perform in the beautiful jewel-box of Lindsey Chapel in Emmanuel Church on Newbury Street. And this year, they’re singing Brahms. We’ll be there, December 17 at 8 pm. (For you suburbanites, they’re also performing December 11 at 2pm in the Newton library.)

The Cambridge Chorus. Singing compositions by Handel, Mozart, and Dubra (like the vodka?!!), they’ll be performing at MIT’s Kresge auditorium on December 18 at 3pm.

The Christmas Revels. Here’s one for you semi-pagan Cambridge hippies! If you like England, multiculturalism, Morris dancers, druids, green men, folk music, and your holiday cards celebrate the solstice rather than the virgin birth of baby Jesus, don’t miss their show. Running from December 16-29 at Harvard’s Sanders Theater, every performance ends with a group sing of “Simple Gifts.” Bonus: December 16 is a cheaper “preview” performance. We’ll be there with parents in tow.

The Holiday Pops. Did you know that “Sleigh Ride” was written especially for the Boston Pops? Now you do. Go to a matinee for kid-friendly fun, or take in a night-time performance from the floor of Symphony Hall for a swankier, dress-up affair (this is the route we’re taking this year, with my excellent aunt). Either way, enjoy a special appearance by a certain jolly old elf. Performances run from December 7-24 at Symphony Hall.

Boston Ballet. The more masculine Rambler vetoed the unfortunately named Nutcracker this year, but I have fond memories of seeing Tchaikovsky’s classic as a little girl. The Wang Center is an imposing venue, and when the Christmas tree “magically” grows to fill it, every little kid’s jaw will drop. Other “special effects” include a thrilling sword fight between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King (who I remember jauntily waving as his lifeless body is dragged offstage) and a passel of children running out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt. Only later, when my friend Suz performed in the Commonwealth Ballet’s production, did I learn that Mother Ginger is always played by a man.

The cross-dressing family fun runs from November 25-December 31 at the Wang Center; the more-reasonably priced Commonwealth Ballet performances run from November 25-27 at Acton-Boxborough High School and from December 9-11 at Regis College. If that’s sooo not your thing, there’s always the Urban Nutcracker, December 3-18 at Wheelock Family Theater in Boston.

The Harvard University Choir. Every year, Harvard’s choir sings at a special carols service, free and open to the public at Harvard’s Memorial Church. This year’s service is December 11 at 5pm and December 12 at 8pm. Get there early for seats.

Your guess is as good as mine.

The North Shore Music Theater. I’ve never been to this performance, but there’s a first time for everything. The NSMT, in Beverly, does an original, musical interpretation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Running weekends December 2-23, the Boston Globe (according to NSMT’s website) calls it: “A lush and imaginative take on the Charles Dickens classic, which is a mix of magic, music, and old-fashioned storytelling, designed to send audiences out full of a sense of generosity as well as holiday cheer.” Hey, we like holiday cheer!

Rockport Music. Another venue new to us, this comes highly recommended from a man of impeccable taste. They’re hosting a Christmas Celtic Sojourn on Wednesday, December 14 in their oceanfront performance space — yes, it looks out over Rockport’s lovely Cape Ann coastline.

What are we missing, fellow ramblers? Will we see you at any of these events?

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