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A Classical Music Christmas

The Nutcracker

Christmas music in Buffalo offers something for everyone

While the classical Christmas music scene in Western New York has already gotten off to a strong start this past weekend, with the Neglia Ballet’s spectacular, collaborative production with the BPO of The Nutcracker at Shea’s and Nickel City Opera’s charming Amahl and the Night Visitors at the Riviera, there are many more events to come. Here are some of the many upcoming Christmas concerts:

New York Virtuoso Singers

Founded in 1988 by conductor Harold Rosenbaum, the New York Virtuoso Singers has become this country’s leading exponent of contemporary choral music, commissioning, performing, and recording the music of American composers. The group has performed at the University at Buffalo in the past, in concerts featuring just the kind of contemporary choral music with which it has earned its well deserved reputation, most often at the June in Buffalo Festival. This Friday, December 2, at 7:30pm, the audience at Slee Hall on the UB Amherst Campus will have the rare opportunity to hear the group perform more traditional music in “Twelfth Night,” a program featuring medieval, Renaissance, and baroque Christmas music. Advance tickets are $12 general admission; $9 for UB faculty/staff/alumni and senior citizens; $5 for students. At the door: $20/$15/$8. For more information, visit

Music at St. Paul’s

On Friday, December 2 at 7:30pm, the Friends of Music at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 128 Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo offer a performance of Handel’s Messiah, featuring the Men and Girls’ Choir and soloists soprano Ellen Hargis, mezzo Thea Lobo, tenor Eric Perry, and bass David Kravitz, with Adriane Post as principal violinist. Tickets are $20. On Friday, December 16 at 12:30pm, the Girl’s Choir of St. Paul’s, along with harpist Barbara Dechario, perform Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, and admission is free. For more information, call 855-0900 or visit

Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus

While the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus frequently performs with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, it is a totally separate organization. As part of its celebration of its 75th Anniversary Season, the chorus will perform Handel’s Messiah, along with the BPO, under its music director and conductor Doreen Rao, on Sunday, December 4 at 8pm, in St. Joseph’s Cathedral on Franklin Street in downtown Buffalo. Featured soloists are soprano Holly Bewlay, mezzo Allison Sanders, tenor Joseph Mikolaj, and bass Brian Zunner. Tickets are $20, available at the BPO box office. For more information, call 885-5000 or visit

Christmas Pie with the Freudig Singers

This weekend’s performances by the Freudig Singers will celebrate a dozen years of a unique Buffalo tradition. The Freudig Singers put on a pair of concerts featuring some of the more rarely performed gems in the Christmas music reparatory, while also serving some pie and coffee to audience members afterwards. The first serving of Christmas pie, under the baton of the Freudig Singers artistic director Roland Martin, will be this Friday, December 2 at 7:30pm, at St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle in Buffalo. A second helping of Christmas pie will be served on Sunday December 4 at 7pm, at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 South Buffalo Street. Advance tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for seniors and students. At the door: $15/$13. For more information, call 667-7088 or visit

Vocalis Chamber Choir

The Vocalis Chamber Choir is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season, and as it has for the previous four years, Vocalis is presenting its annual holiday concert, on Saturday, December 10 at 8pm, in the Karpeles Manuscript Library at 220 North Street at the corner of Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo. The magnificent, columned, Greek Revival setting, with its stained glass ceiling, provides an ideal acoustic for choral singing, according to James Burritt, the director of the ensemble. “We always decorate the place with a 12-foot Christmas tree and poinsettias,” says Burritt. “And, while at intermission we have cookies, hot cider, and mulled wine, remember to dress warmly if it’s cold out.” The music is all performed a cappella, and ranges from the Renaissance to the present day, and includes many Christmas favorites. If you can’t make the event at the Karpeles on Saturday, the same program is being presented the day before, on Friday, December 9 at 8pm, in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church at 4369 South Buffalo Street. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults, $12 for students, and free for children 12 and under. For more information, visit

Nutcrackers Galore

Perhaps you missed catching one of the performances of The Nutcracker at Shea’s last weekend. Not to worry, you still have the opportunity to catch one of the four different productions of The Nutcracker scheduled for this upcoming weekend.

The American Academy of Ballet’s 16th annual production of The Nutcracker will once again return to the UB Center for the Arts, on the UB Amherst campus, with special guest artists Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet and Misa Kuranaga of the Boston Ballet dancing the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, plus a host of local dancers and special stage effects. Saturday and Sunday matinee performances are at 1pm, with a Saturday evening performance at 7pm. Tickets are $19-$27. For more information, call 645-2787 or visit

The Classical Ballet of Western New York will present four performances of The Nutcracker in the renovated Lockport High School Auditorium at 250 Lincoln Avenue in Lockport. Evening performances are at 7pm on Friday and Saturday, while matinee performances take place at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18 for adults, $10 for children. For more information, call 631-1582.

The Buffalo City Ballet will dance a pair of The Nutcracker performances in the auditorium of the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, 450 Masten Avenue, on Saturday, December 3 at 7pm, and Sunday, December 4 at 3pm. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 833-1243.

Finally, on Monday, December 5 and Tuesday, December 6, at 7:30pm, the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” takes the stage at Lockport’s Historic Palace Theatre, in a production featuring 40 Russian-trained dancers and nine hand-painted backdrops with 3-D ornamentation and fanciful, larger-than-life puppets designed by a Russian master. Unique to Moscow Ballet productions, Russian folk characters Father Christmas and the Snow Maiden escort Clara to the Land of Peace and Harmony where she and the Nutcracker Prince are honored by emissaries from heritages the world over. Tickets are $27.50-$68. For more information, call 438-1130 or visit

Buffalo Philharmonic Holiday Concerts

The BPO Holiday Pops concerts are always among the best attended pops concert of the season, and this year concert-goers will have three performances to choose from: Friday, December 9 at 10:30am, Saturday, December 10 at 8pm, and Sunday, December 11 at 2:30pm. BPO associate conductor Matthew Kraemer will be on the podium to lead the BPO, along with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus, with special guest artist singer Debbie Boone, in a program that will appeal to all ages. While many might remember Debbie Boone best for her first song, “You Light Up My Life,” which became an enormous overnight success, she has long since pursued a career both on the Broadway stage and in many national touring productions, as well as appearing with numerous symphonic ensembles, including the Boston Pops. In addition to traditional Christmas favorites, such as “Adeste Fidelis,” the program will feature more contemporary music, including a selection from the film Home Alone, and end with the traditional carol sing-along.

The two BPO M&T Classic Series Christmas concerts on Friday, December 16 at 10:30am, and Saturday, December 17 at 8pm, also include an appearance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, and will be conducted by BPO music director JoAnn Falletta. Popular selections from The Nutcracker, as well as The Skaters’ Waltz are on the program, as well as the heart-meltingly beautiful adagio movement from Marcello’s Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra in C Minor, featuring BPO principal oboist Pierre Roy as soloist. Soprano Sebnem Mekinulov is the soloist in Gounod’s arrangement of Bach’s Ave Maria, and the chorus is featured in selections from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Mendelssohn’s Christus, and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

For the youngest among us, the BPO Family Series concert on Sunday, December 17 at 2:30pm is billed as “A Visit From St. Nick,” and that is exactly what the kids can expect. BPO staff conductor Paul Ferington will be on the podium for a performance that includes the members of the Royal Academy of Ballet, who will dance the enchanting Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime from Hansel and Gretel, as well as the BPO debut appearance of baritone Mario Martínez, a touring opera singer who is now coordinator of vocal studies at Nazareth College in Rochester, who will sing “Good King Wenceslas,” among other selections. When you factor in the delightful suite from Rossini’s ballet, La boutique fantastique, as orchestrated by Respighi, you have a children’s concert that every adult can enjoy.

For more information, call 885-5000 or visit

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