A Whole Bunch of Christmas Concerts and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch This Week in Cleveland

A Whole Bunch of Christmas Concerts and the Rest of the Classical Music to Catch This Week in Cleveland
Photo by Roger Mastroianni, Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra

Before we get into Christmas concerts, there are three attractive events to recommend that have no connection with the holidays.

The Cleveland Orchestra welcomes pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and guest conductor Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider to Severance Hall for four performances from December 5-7. Thibaudet will solo in Saint-Saëns’ “Egyptian” Concerto, and Szeps-Znaider will lead the Orchestra in Berlioz’ Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict and his own suite of selections from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Thursday’s concert begins at 7:30 pm, and Saturday’s at 8:00 pm. There are two concerts on Friday — at 11:00 am (no piano concerto) and 8:00 pm. Tickets can be reserved here.

If you’re a fan of Lemony Snicket’s children’s mystery novels, Suburban Symphony has a treat for you in a family concert at the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 pm. Jason Budd will narrate The Composer is Dead, and conductor Domenico Boyagian will lead the Orchestra in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite. The concert is free, but you’ll need to register for tickets.

At the same hour on December 8, the Oberlin College Choir, Musical Union, and Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, Raphael Jiménez and Gregory Ristow, conducting, will present Mendelssohn’s famous oratorio Elijah in Finney Chapel. Faculty baritone Timothy LeFebvre sings the title role. The concert is free, and you can catch the performance via live stream.

Now, on to Christmas concerts, beginning with two editions of Tomáseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas. Foley invites you to a remote Irish farmhouse for an evening of traditional music and storytelling with musicians Brian Bigley, William Coulter, and Eimear Arkins and dancers Marcus Donnelly and Alyssa Reichert. The show, now in its 24th season, plays at the Church of the Resurrection in Solon on Friday, December 6 at 7 (freewill offering), and on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 pm at Medina Performing Arts Center (tickets here).

Christmas largely belongs to choruses, both professional and avocational. Here are the first organizations to mount holiday programs this season.

Frank Bianchi will lead the Baldwin Wallace Men’s Chorus in three editions of its annual Holiday Concert, featuring a candlelight processional, piano, organ, a brass ensemble, and male a cappella group Mr. Sun’s Echo on Saturday, December 7 at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium in Berea, and on December 13 at 7:30 pm at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights. Tickets here.

Scott MacPherson’s professional Cleveland Chamber Choir will pair music by Renaissance composers with modern compositions on the same texts — plus premieres of Hanukkah music — in concerts at Lakewood Congregational Church (Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 pm) and First Baptist Church in Shaker Heights (Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 pm). Buy your tickets online.

The Singers’ Club of Cleveland, another all-male chorus, and one of the city’s oldest musical organizations, will ring in the season with “Waltzes and Whimsey” at the Breen Center in Ohio City on Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 pm. Interim director Bob Bellisario will preside over a program that ranges from Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes to unique arrangements of traditional carols, and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves, with musicians from BlueWater Chamber Orchestra. Tickets here.

On Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 pm, vocalists Sandra Simon, Natasha Ospina Simmons, and JR Fralick will join David Gilson’s Western Reserve Chorale and wind ensemble in Repighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore, Jeremiah Klarman’s Songs of Peace, and carols by Holst, Willcocks, Forrest, Rutter, and others at the Church of the Gesu in University Heights. A freewill offering is involved, and a reception follows.

Also on Sunday the 8th, John Drotleff will lead the West Shore Chorale and Orchestra and Bella Musica from the Oberlin Choristers in a varied program of Christmas music followed by an audience carol sing-along and reception. Tickets to the 7:30 pm concert at Magnificat Performing Arts Center in Rocky River are $15, but students get in free.

For details of these and other classical concerts, see our Concert Listings page.
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