Can’t-Miss Classical Concerts, Choral Shows, and Orchestral Performances in December

See Messiahs, British carols, Yo-Yo Ma, and more in Washington this month.
Catch Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on December 3. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Catch Yo-Yo Ma at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on December 3. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Holiday-Themed Performances

The
Barnes and Hampton Celtic Consort—composed of Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton—presents candlelit performances of
Celtic Christmas music at the Dumbarton Church. Joining the duo are flutist Joseph Cunliffe, percussionist
Steve Bloom, and narrator Robert Aubry Davis. Sponsored by Dumbarton Concerts,
December 1, 2, 8, and 9.

The
Washington Bach Consort performs a program of cantatas that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote
for the Advent and Christmas seasons. At the National Presbyterian Church, December
1.

Georg Friedrich Handel’s

Messiah
is performed at the
National Cathedral
, with a period orchestra and the cathedral’s boys’, girls’,
and men’s choirs. Michael McCarthy conducts, with soloists Gillian Keith (soprano),
Julia Mintzer (mezzo-soprano), Rufus Muller (tenor), and Nathan Berg (bass). December
7, 8, and 9.

The
National Philharmonic
presents its

Messiah
on three nights, as well: December 8, 22, and 23 at the Music Center at Strathmore.
Stan Engebretson conducts, with soprano Danielle Talamantes, mezzo-soprano Magdalena
Wór, tenor Matthew Smith, bass Kevin Deas, and the National Philharmonic Chorale.

On December 9, the
New Dominion Chorale presents the three cantatas that form the basis of Bach’s

Christmas Oratorio
—in artistic director Thomas Beveridge’s English translation. Soloists are soprano
Diane Atherton, alto Kristen Dubenion-Smith, tenor Jason Rylander, and bass Bob McDonald.
At the Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and
Arts Center.

The
NSO Pops presents “Happy Holidays!” December 13 to 16. Randall Craig Fleischer conducts, with guest artists
New York Voices. At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

The legendary
Vienna Boys Choir appears December 14 at George Mason’s Center for the Arts in a program
of Christmas carols, as well as music by Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, Britten, and
some popular songs, as well.

Vernacular songs from 14th-century Florence, as well as seasonal dances and other
works, are performed by the
Folger Consort December 14 to 23 in the Folger Elizabethan Theatre.

The
Romeros, the famed family of guitar virtuosos, perform at George Mason’s Center for the Arts December 15, along with the Spanish string ensemble
Concerto Málaga, led by Massimo Paris.

The
21st Century Consort
will perform two seasonal works December 15: Benjamin
Britten’s
A Ceremony of Carols and Jon Deak’s
The Passion of Scrooge or
A Christmas Carol. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.

At the Washington National Cathedral, the Cathedral Choral Society
presents two performances of
“Joy of Christmas” December 15 and another on December 16.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington will present two holiday
programs. December 16 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, playwright
Catherine Flye is featured in
“A Family Christmas.” And December 17 and 24, at the same venue, soprano
Carrie Henneman and organist
Paul Leavitt join conductor Scott Tucker in
“An Enchanted Christmas,” complete with carol sing-along.

The City Choir of Washington presents a Christmas concert—
“The Holly and the Ivy”—featuring British choral music on December 16 at the National Presbyterian Church.
A sing-along will include favorite carols and the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s

Messiah.

December 16, the National Chamber Ensemble performs
its annual holiday concert, with violinist
Rimma Sushanskaya and oboist
Ronald Sipes. At the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere.

The
National Symphony Orchestra’s

Messiah
will be performed December 20 to 23 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Rolf Beck
conducts, with soloists Katherine Whyte, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Sunnyboy Vincent Dladla,
and Scott Conner, along with the University of Maryland Concert Choir.

The Washington National Opera presents Engelbert Humperdinck’s enchanting

Hansel and Gretel
in a company revival conducted by Michael Rosso.
David Gately directs, and the cast is drawn from members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists
program. December 21 to 23 at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Other Highlights of the Month

Pianist
Lukáš Vondráček performs a challenging and varied recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater December
1. On the program: Franz Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in C Major, Hob XVI: 50; Sergei Rachmaninoff’s

Corelli Variations; the Six Pieces, Opus 118 of Johannes Brahms; and Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7.
Sponsored by the Washington Performing Arts Society.

The
21st Century Consort presents multimedia treatments of
Civil War melodies, as reimagined by composers Charles Ives, Stephen Rush, and William Brehm. Also on
the program: Igor Stravinsky’s
A Soldier’s Tale. December 1 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.

At the Phillips Collection December 2, the
Hermitage Trio performs Rachmaninoff’s brooding Trio in G minor (“the Elegiac”) along with Pyotr
Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Trio in A minor and Beethoven’s Variations on
Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu.

Virginia Opera continues its short run of Johann Strauss’s operetta


Die Fledermaus
, at the George Mason Center for the Arts December 2.
Gary Thor Wedow conducts, and Dorothy Danner directs, with a cast including Christina Pier, Phillip
Cutlip, Ryan MacPherson, Christopher Burchett, Sarah Jane McMahon, Abigail Nims, Neal
Ferreira, Jake Gardener, and Grant Neale.

Violinist
Bella Hristova performs Beethoven’s titanic “Kreutzer” Sonata at the Jewish Community Center of
Greater Washington
December 2. Arvo Pärt’s “Fratres” opens the recital,
followed by Mozart’s Sonata K. 304 and transcriptions of songs from George Gershwin’s
Porgy and Bess.

At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall December 3,
Yo-Yo Ma presents some of the touchstones of the cello literature: selections from the Six
Cello Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach. Sponsored by the Washington Performing Arts
Society
.

Is there a more popular conductor these days than
Gustavo Dudamel? Hear him conduct the orchestra with which he cut his teeth: the Simón Bolívar Symphony
Orchestra of Venezuela, December 4 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The concert,
sponsored by the Washington Performing Arts Society, features the Sinfonia
India of Carlos Chávez, Julián Orbón’s Tres versions sinfónicas, and Richard Strauss’s
tone poem Eine Alpensinfonie.

Clarinetist
José Franch-Ballester, violinist Bella Hristova, and pianist Ran Dank join the ensemble miXt in a chamber
music performance sponsored by Young Concert Artists. The musicians
will perform Bela Bartók’s
Contrasts, John Novacek’s
Four Rags for Two Jons, a premiere by David Hertzberg, Jascha Heiftez’s arrangement of excerpts from
Porgy and Bess, and the
Trio by Paul Schoenfield. At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, December 4.

Poland is the theme of the
National Symphony Orchestra’s concerts on December 6 through 8, with music by two
Polish-born composers—Witold Lutoslawski’s magnificent
Trauermusik and Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1—as well as Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.
3, the “Polish.”
Hans Graf guest-conducts, and
Yuja Wang is the soloist in the Chopin.

Led by music director
Christopher Zimmerman, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra performs an all-Romantic program,
December 8 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. On the program: Rossini’s
Overture to
La Gazza Ladra, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (with soloist James Dick), and Tchaikovsky’s
Symphony No. 6, the “Pathétique.”

Violinist
Jennifer Frautschi and pianist
John Blacklow play all three of Robert Schumann’s violin sonatas—the familiar A minor, Opus 105,
and D minor, Opus 121, as well as the posthumous third in A minor. Sponsored by the
Phillips Collection, December 9.

December 9, the
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
, including Marissa Regni, David Hardy, Loren Kitt, and Lambert
Orkis, perform a recital including Darius Milhaud’s Suite for Violin, Clarinet, and
Piano; Cesar Franck’s Sonata (originally for violin but here arranged for cello and
piano); Bach’s Sonata in G minor for cello and piano; and Bela Bartók’s
Contrasts for violin, clarinet, and piano. At the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

The
Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, led by
Elisabeth Adkins, presents Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Flutes (with Carole Bean and Alice Weinreb),
Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Cello (with Heather LeDoux Green, violin, and David
Teie, cello), and two works by Bach: the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and the Concerto
for Oboe and Violin (with Nicholas Stovall, oboe, and Elisabeth Adkins, violin). December
9 at the George Washington Masonic Temple in Alexandria.

In a recital sponsored by the Fortas Chamber Music series,
the
Fine Arts Quartet performs Franz Joseph Haydn’s Quartet in G major, Opus 77, No. 1; the Quartet in E
minor by Efrem Zimbalist (a magnificent Golden Age violinist who also happened to
compose); and Franz Schubert’s masterly
Death and the Maiden Quartet. December 11 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

The focus of the December 13 performance in the Leading European Composers series
at the Phillips Collection is the highly acclaimed
Matthias Pintscher. Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble join Pintscher in performances
of the composer’s on a clear day for piano; Study II for
Treatise on the Veil for violin, viola, and cello; Study II for
Treatise on the Veil for violin; and
dernier espace avec introspecteur for accordion and cello.

December 16 at the Phillips Collection, pianist
Shai Wosner performs music by Beethoven—the Sonata Opus 28, No. 15, the Waldstein Sonata, and
two Bagetelles (the Opus 33, No. 5 and the Opus 126, No. 6); Bartók—Out of Doors; and Claude Debussy—Reflets dans l’eau, Mouvement, La sérénade interrompue, and
La cathedrale engloutie.

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