Singing in the Season: 2017 Holiday Concerts

For most of us the holidays are magical because they are so musical. There’s an enormous body of seasonal music ranging from classical repertoire like Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Handel’s Messiah to Tin Pan Alley tunes by the likes of Irving Berlin and jazz interpretations of the season such as Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Even Bob Dylan added to the Christmas canon a few years ago in an unexpected, but delightful way. Each in their own way conjures memories, nostalgia and the simple pleasure of once again hearing well-loved songs.

Buffalo traditionally offers music lovers ample opportunity to experience the sounds of the season live and in person in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas and this year is no exception. There’s an impressive line-up of rock, jazz, classical and choral concerts that should keep you in the holiday spirit all the year through.

1. Holiday Live at Larkin (Dec. 1) – Come for Buffalo’s fleet of food trucks at Buffalo’s Larkin Square, stay for the holiday tunes.

2. Vocalis (Dec. 1, St. Peter & Paul Church, Williamsville; Dec. 2, Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Buffalo) – Breathtakingly beautiful acapella arrangements of choral classics, overlooked repertoire and holiday standards.

3. “The Nutcracker” performed by American Academy of Ballet at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts (Dec. 2-3) – This perennial family favorite makes a return visit to UB.

Holiday Live at Larkin – Photo courtesy of Larkin Square

4. “Ringing in the Season” presented by the Buffalo Choral Arts Society (Dec. 1, St. Mary’s Church of Swormville; Dec. 3, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Buffalo; Dec. 9, Saints Peter and Paul RC Church, Hamburg) – This community choir presents its annual Christmas concerts at churches throughout the region.

5. Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus (Dec. 1, St. John’s Grace; Dec. 2, Westminster Presbyterian Church; Dec. 3, Unitarian Universalist Church) – This much-loved choral group brings its good cheer to three of Buffalo’s most beautiful churches.

6. Winter Choral Spectacular (Dec. 7, Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College) – Buffalo State choral groups come together to sing in the season.

7. BPO Classical Christmas (Dec. 8-9, Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo) – The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and the Philharmonic Chorus treat listeners to an array of holiday favorites in the incomparable surroundings of Kleinhans Music Hall.

East Aurora Carolcade – Photo courtesy of the EA Chamber of Commerce

8. “Christmas by Candlelight” presented by the Harmonia Chamber Singers (Dec. 9, St. Bernadette Church, Orchard Park; Dec. 16, St. Peter’s Church, Lewiston; Dec. 17, St. Joseph University Church, Buffalo) – Another opportunity to sample Buffalo’s cornucopia of acapella talent.

9. The Ed Croft Trio Presents: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Dec. 9, Pausa Art House) – The jazz Christmas class by the Vince Guaraldi Trio will be brought to life in the cozy confines of Allentown’s Pausa Art House.

10. A Polish Holiday: Carols, Song & Dance presented by the Lira Singers, Lira Dancers and the Lira Chamber Players (Dec. 9, University at Buffalo Center for the Arts) – A new addition to Buffalo’s Christmas concert calendar.

11. Bill Kirchen and His Too Much Fun Honky Tonk Holiday Show at Sportsmen’s Tavern (Dec. 10) – Bill Kirchen cut his considerable chops with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen back in the day and is still on the road bringing the twang ‘n’ roll to roadhouses like the Sportsmen’s.

12. Handel’s Messiah presented by the Cathedral Choir of Men, Boys and Girls at St. Paul’s Church, Buffalo (Dec. 10) – No holiday season would be complete without the timeless brilliance of Handel’s masterpiece.

13. BPO Jingle Bell Jam (Dec. 10, Kleinhans Music Hall) – The BPO’s annual kids’ concert ends on a very high note with milk and cookies and an appearance by Santa Claus.

Classical Christmas – Photo courtesy of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

14. Albright-Knox Tree Lighting and Concert (Dec. 10) – Another Buffalo holiday classic: the lighting of the Albright’s spectacular Christmas tree accompanied by seasonal sounds.

15. Natalie McMaster & Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas (Dec. 10, University at Buffalo Center for the Arts) – Legendary fiddlers are sure to bring some Celtic soul to holiday classics.

16. John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops (Dec. 15-17, Kleinhans Music Hall) – John Morris Russell, the BPO’s Pops Conductor, leads his glorious ensemble in an always entertaining celebration of holiday standards.

17. Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas (Dec. 15) – Buffalo State’s Rockwell Hall adds some R&B flavor to the region’s holiday offerings.

“The Nutcracker” – Photo courtesy of American Academy of Ballet

18. East Aurora Carolcade (Dec. 16) – For generations, the people of East Aurora have been gathering in front of Vidler’s 5 & 10 to sing the season in. Bob Cratchit and George Bailey would be right at home among this friendly crowd of well-wishers.

19. Kenny Rogers – The Gambler’s Last Deal: Christmas & Hits (Dec. 16, University at Buffalo Center for the Arts) – Kenny Rogers final world tour makes its way to Buffalo.