Choice voices line up for annual 'Messiah' offerings

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The sounds of the season in Howard County always prominently include Columbia Pro Cantare performing portions of Handel's "Messiah." Of course, there are other Christmas-oriented concerts in the Baltimore area to consider adding to your classical shopping list. When you're not at the mall, you can be at the concert hall.

Music director Frances Motyca Dawson leads Columbia Pro Cantare's vocal forces in doing the Christmas Section and Parts II and III of "Messiah" on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Rouse Theatre, at 5460 Trumpeter Road in Wilde Lake. This presentation is almost always standing-room-only, so don't wait on securing some tickets.

This year's featured guest soloists are soprano Amy van Roekel, mezzo Mary Ann McCormick, tenor Charles Reid and baritone Lester Lynch. They'bb be backed by the full chorus, an orchestra and organist Henry Lowe.

For an informative background on Handel's masterpiece, you can attend a free lecture by Dr. Barbara Renton at 6:30 p.m. And you'll definitely want to stay after the concert for a festive reception.

Columbia Pro Cantare's separate 28-voice Chamber Singers ensemble will present a program entitled "A Christmas Noel" on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, at 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia.

For ticket information on both of these Columbia Pro Cantare programs, call 410-799-9321 or go to http://www.procantare.org.

Seasonal musical offerings in Baltimore include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, also doing Handel's "Messiah." Conducted by Edward Polochick from his bench at the harpsichord and joined by Polochick's Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale, the BSO performs "Messiah" this Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.

The BSO also presents "Holiday Cirque de la Symphonie" from Dec. 7 through 11 at the Meyerhoff. Conductor Bob Bernhardt leads the BSO in performances of Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," selections from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite," and a medley of Christmas carols, but there is much more than music. This circus-inspired program also includes acrobats, strongmen, aerialists, jugglers, mimes, contortionists and trapeze artists.

Performances of "Holiday Cirque de la Symphonie" at the Meyerhoff are Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. There is an additional performance at the Music Center at Strathmore on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.

The BSO also has "A Christmas Carol in Concert" at the Meyerhoff on Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17 both at 7:30 p.m. Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos leads the full orchestra in the world premiere of this work composed by Bob Christianson, with lyrics by Alisa Hauser. A choir and soloists promise to bring to life a score that stylistically incorporates rock and pop.

For ticket information about BSO programs, call 410-783-8000 or go to ww.BSOmusic.org.

More Handel, with care

The BSO isn't the only musical outfit in town giving "Messiah" an annual airing. The Handel Choir of Baltimore under music director Melinda O'Neal does "Messiah" on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church, at 740 N. Calvert Street; and again on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer, at 5603 N. Charles St. Call 410-366-6544 or go to http://www.handelchoir.org

Baltimore Choral Arts Society's remaining holiday programs under music director Tom Hall feature "Sing Along Messiah" on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium in Towson; and "Christmas for Kids," whose attractions include Ronnie the Reindeer and Santa, on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m., also at Kraushaar. Call 410-523-7070 or go to http://www.baltimorechoralarts.org.

And the art of music will be surrounded by a museum full of visual art when a caroling ensemble known as Joyous Voices performs a free concert of medieval, Victorian and popular seasonal tunes on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the sculpture court of the Walters Art Museum, at 600 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. Call 410-547-9000 or go to http://www.thewalters.org.

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