The Kansas City Symphony’s Christmas Festival always brings the tinsel. Associate Conductor Jason Seber will conduct this year’s spectacular, which includes old favorites and, to keep things fresh and interesting, some surprises.
Christmas Festival runs for seven performances at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts beginning Friday, Dec. 15.
Christmas Festival is the sort of old-fashioned revue that appeals to all ages. It recalls the Bing Crosby Christmas TV shows of yore but has plenty of razzle-dazzle to maintain the interest of younger concertgoers.
This year, the Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, directed by Charles Bruffy, will be joined by soprano Christiane Noll. Returning are the Allegro Choirs and ReZound! Handbell Ensemble. And it wouldn’t be a Christmas Festival without a visit from the man with a bag.
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7 p.m. Dec. 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, 1 p.m. Dec 16 and 2 p.m. Dec. 17. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $15-$90. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.
Kantorei will present “Music for Advent and Christmas” on Saturday, Dec. 16, at Central United Methodist and Sunday, Dec. 17, at Visitation Church. The program will include a healthy selection of Christmas carols and a setting of the “O” Antiphons.
An ancient tradition of the Roman church is the singing of the “O” Antiphons from Dec. 17 to Dec. 23. Every evening at vespers, a different image of the incarnation is invoked. On Dec. 17 it’s “O Sapientia” (“O Wisdom”), on Dec. 23 it’s “O Emmanuel” (“God With Us”). Others include “O Key of David” and “O Root of Jesse.”
At first, the “O” Antiphons were chanted, and the traditional Gregorian chant melody is still used today. But eventually composers started to take a crack at writing their own music for these haunting Advent invocations.
Kantorei will perform a setting by contemporary British composer Gabriel Jackson. Jackson has been commissioned to write works for the Tallis Scholars and also wrote a piece for the 2009 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College Cambridge. He sounds like a composer worth knowing.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Central United Methodist Church, 5144 Oak St.
3 p.m. Dec. 17 at Visitation Church, 5141 Main St. $10-$15. Tickets available at the door or at kantoreikc.org
William Baker Festival Singers
William Baker considers his annual “Candlelight, Carols & Cathedral” concerts “the alternative to the alternative Christmas.” The William Baker Festival Singers will present the beloved program of carols, spirituals and readings Friday, Dec. 15, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Sunday, Dec. 17, at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Baker makes no apologies for programming exclusively spiritual music for his Christmas concerts. He says he avoids glitz and tinsel to explore the side of the season that invites self-reflection.
“I love Christmas extravaganzas, too,” Baker said. “In younger days, I could get my groove thing on with dancing reindeer, but there’s also a time for singing carols in the traditional form we remember.”
“Candlelight, Carols & Cathdral” is the sort of concert you’d expect to find in a parish church in some rural English shire. It’s cozy and warm but full-throated. Baker conducts his Christmas concerts with great affection and extracts every drop of sentiment. But he pulls out all the stops when he needs to. The superb organs of both cathedrals will accompany the 50-voice Festival Singers, ramping up the concerts’ sonic spectacle considerably.
7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St.
2 p.m. Dec. 17 at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $5-$40. Tickets available at the door or at FestivalSingers.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at facebook.com/kcartsbeat.