Seasonal celebrations peak in December with a series of Christmas-themed concerts to attract all tastes and ages. One of the UK’s leading period orchestras, The Hanover Band, brings its fresh, historically informed interpretation of Handel’s Messiah (14 Dec).
Under inspirational artistic director Caroline Brown, the band aims to give audiences a real feeling for what Handel’s music sounded like when heard in favourable circumstances – ‘gutsy playing stripped decades of varnish from the score with a full-blooded sound,’ said The Times. Awardwinning vocal ensemble Tenebrae is joined by cellist Oliver Coates for a seasonal sequence of French and English music (16 Dec), featuring Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Poulenc’s Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël.
Christmas is heralded by the unique, uplifting sound of brass septet Septura, which returns on 18 December to explore some of the most enduring Christmas works over the centuries, including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. All these Christmas concerts would be a treat for any age group, but there’s a special concert for younger audiences and their families. Raymond Briggs’s film The Snowman will be shown with its live score played by the Mozart Symphony Orchestra (19 Dec).
Everyone will recognise Howard Blake’s magical music, especially the poignant song made famous by Aled Jones, ‘Walking in the Air’. It’s a double bill with Saint- Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, performed with poetry, jokes and cartoon animations projected above the orchestra.
The story of Christmas has never been more musically told than in Bach’s joyous Christmas Oratorio – a popular seasonal event at Kings Place and performed this year by the London Bach Singers and the Feinstein Ensemble under founder Martin Feinstein (20 Dec). Their Matthew Passion earlier in the year was a sell-out, and with Bach’s glittering score and a top cast of soloists, including Charles Daniels, this will be a seasonal treat.
Finally, don’t miss The Albion Christmas Show (22 Dec) with Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention), Kellie While (Albion Band), Simon Care and Ashley Hutchings taking you on a guided tour through the Christmas customs of Britain.