Chicago’s 31 Best Classical, New Music, and Opera Events in December

La Traviata is at the Lyric, Chanticleer is at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, and there are holiday shows all over town.

La Traviata plays at the Lyric Opera through December 20.   Photo: Todd Rosenburg/Lyric Opera

Anaphora

12/1 at 2 The new-music group fills the jazz venue for the third time. The program features A/B Duo, a multi-instrumentalist combo whose primary instruments are flute and percussion. $5. Green Mill, 4802 N Broadway. anaphoraensemble.com

Apollo Chorus

12/7, 21 at 3 Things that have happened during Apollo’s 135-year-long Messiah streak: a Republican became Chicago’s mayor, North Dakota became a state, and sliced bread was invented. Back at Symphony Center this year, the very large volunteer chorus performs the director’s cut of Messiah, with almost all of Part the First sung by heart. $18–$75. 12/7: Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. 12/21: Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. apollochorus.org

Bella Voce

12/21 at 7:30, 12/22 at 3:30 The local chamber choir does its choral duty and puts on a holiday concert. Past years have combined holiday chestnuts with new finds. $15–$38. 12/21: St Procopius Abbey, 5601 College, Lisle. 12/22: St Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman, Evanston. bellavoce.org

CHILD FRIENDLY

Chamber Opera Chicago

12/14 at 7:30, 12/15 at 2 Gian Carlo Menotti’s operetta Amahl and the Night Visitors had its genesis as the first television opera. The story of the crippled shepherd boy who meets the three kings has even more charm in person. $10–$25. Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S State. chamberoperachicago.org

CRITIC’S PICK

Chanticleer

12/4–5 at 7:30 Fans of choral music know this group well—the professional San Francisco–based allmale chamber singers wow audiences with the breadth of their repertoire and the astounding clarity of their countertenors. Their annual holiday concerts fill up a Christmasy Fourth Pres on a sparkly Michigan Avenue, making for a picturebook experience. $39–$56. Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut. cso.org

Chicago A Cappella

12/1, 6–8, 14 Anne Heider, the former music director of Bella Voce, leads the small vocal group in holiday rarities and settings of classics such as “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “The Coventry Carol,” as well as Heider’s own take on the shape-note tune “Splendid Shines the Morning Star.” $12–$38. Times, locations: chicagoacappella.org

FREE!

Chicago Cultural Center

12/2 at 12 The 16-member ensemble Chicago Chamber Musicians performs at its monthly First Monday Series.
12/4 at 12:15 Rachel Schutz, soprano, and Jonathan Korth, piano.
12/9 at 12 Under the banner of the Latino Music Festival, a chamber group of Chicago Sinfonietta musicians plays music by Mexican and local Latino composers.
12/11 at 12:15 The adventurous brass quintet Gaudete Brass.
12/18 at 12:15 The straightforwardly named piano trio Bowlin-Li-Myer Trio.
78 E Washington. choosechicago.com

CHILD FRIENDLY

Chicago Folks Operetta

12/6–8 Since its premiere here 110 years ago, Babes in Toyland has had parts amputated, songs sutured, and new characters inserted to create Frankenstein’s monsters such as a 1986 TV movie with Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita. Here, the studious stewards of CFO have reconstructed a show that rekindles the spirit of the original. $10–$20. 19th Century Club, 178 Forest, Oak Park. chicagofolksoperetta.org

Chicago Master Singers

12/13 at 7:30, 12/15 at 7:00 John Rutter’s well-known Gloria and Daniel Pinkham’s grand, modal Christmas Cantata highlight the suburban choir’s Christmas program. $15–$48. Divine Word Chapel, 2001 Waukegan, Techny. chicagomastersingers.org

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

12/5, 7, 10 at 8 Hector Berlioz’s fever dream, the Symphonie Fantastique, headlines a program with Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1, played by the nonchalantly passionate James Ehnes, who last joined the CSO in performance in July at Ravinia. $32–$241.
12/6 at 7:30, 12/8 at 3 The educational series Beyond the Score explores the Symphonie Fantastique, a work telling the transparently autobiographical story of an artist and his unrequited love. $24–$130.
12/10 at 7:30 It’s a repeat of the Symphonie Fantastique program, with the 22-year-old native Chicagoan Gabriel Cabezas performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 instead of the violin concerto. $31–$234.
12/12, 14 at 8; 12/13 at 1:30, 12/17 at 7:30 The local pianist Jorge Federico Osorio tackles Carlos Chávez’s percussive piano concerto. Ravel’s well-known orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition gets top billing, but Osorio’s Chávez is the news. $39–$255.
12/14–23 Child Friendly. The annual Welcome Yule! event combines sing-alongs, storytelling, dance, and “beloved holiday characters.” $35–$120.
12/19 at 3 Somewhat buried on a Thursday afternoon, the CSO Brass—the backbone of the orchestra’s sound and arguably still the world’s best—performs brass repertoire and arrangements of symphonic works that edit out the strings, winds, and percussion. $33–$122.
12/19, 21 at 8; 12/20 at 1:30 Christoph Eschenbach, no stranger to the CSO, having led it at Ravinia, conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, which he left unfinished at his death, forcing conductors to choose among scholars’ completions. In between these two, the orchestra performs the contemporary composer Bernard Rands’s . . . where the murmurs die . . . $31–$217.
Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org

Frequency

12/8 at 8 Third Coast Percussion plays new music, including Dark Rooms, a piece the group commissioned from the local composer Marcos Balter. $10–$20. Constellation, 3111 N Western. constellation-chicago.com

Harris Theater

12/18 at 7:30 The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s latest Harris installment—the complete Brandenburg Concertos of J. S. Bach—is already a holiday tradition in New York. The connection to the holiday season is tenuous at best, but, hey, Messiah was originally for Easter. $12–$50.
12/19–20 at 7 Speaking of Messiah, the do-it-yourself version returns so choristers can flaunt their melismas. Remember there are only four hallelujahs before the grand pause. $15.
205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

Lyric Opera

12/10–1/18 Die Fledermaus. Hunky baritone Bo Skovhus plays a wealthy philanderer in this famous operetta about a practical joke gone wrong.
Through 12/20 La Traviata. The trending New York director Arin Arbus helms this production, which features the Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka as Violetta. $44–$264.
Civic Opera House, 20 N Wacker. lyricopera.org

MusicNOW

12/16 at 7 One of the CSO’s composers in residence, Mason Bates, specializes in blending electronica with symphony orchestra sounds. He premieres a new work, Carbide & Carbon. $10–$25. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. cso.org/musicnow

Music of the Baroque

12/19–20 at 8, 12/21–22 at 3 The tenor Paul Agnew, who has sung the role of the Evangelist in both major Bach passions with MOB, conducts the group’s holiday assortment of chants, carols, and other Christmas tidings. $27–$75. Locations: baroque.org

Ravinia

12/21 at 8 Other than choral voices, the sound people most associate with Christmas is brass. Boston Brass, one of the top quintets, performs at Ravinia with a pan-idiomatic program, including many arrangements from the Stan Kenton Orchestra. $10. Lake-Cook and Green Bay, Highland Park. ravinia.org

St. Charles Singers

12/6–7 at 7:30, 12/8 at 3 The suburban-based vocal group sings a holiday program. $10–$30. 12/6: Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E Chestnut. 12/7–8: Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar, St. Charles. stcharlessingers.com

Symphony Center

12/4 at 7:30 For lieder lovers, Franz Schubert’s Winterreise has the same inner-circle classic status that Beethoven’s Ninth has to symphony lovers—but without the overplaying baggage. For this intimate performance, the first in a winter and spring celebration of Schubert, some audience members will sit on stage with the baritone and pianist. $55–$99. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org

William Ferris Chorale

12/8 at 3, 12/14 at 7:30, 12/15 at 3 The chamber choir’s annual holiday concert program centers on contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen, more particularly his popular “O Nata Lux” and “O Magnum Mysterium.” $15–$20. Locations: williamferrischorale.org

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