Even Scrooge has a favorite holiday tune. And at the five can’t-miss holiday concerts that follow, you’re bound to hear a verse, interlude, or chorus that fills you with the spirit of the season. By Jessica Allen.
The annual Candlelight Carol Festival includes performances by The Riverside Choir, The Inspirational Choir, The Riverside Ringers, The Riverside Rising Voices, and guest instrumentalists. That’s a lot of performers. In addition to familiar songs, you’ll hear a selection of holiday music from around the world. Overlooking the Hudson River and 122nd Street, the gothic church, modeled after a 13th-century cathedral in France and boasting a 392-foot-high tower, covers two city blocks. Sunday, December 16, at 3:30 pm and 6 pm, tickets required.
It’s a splurge, sure, but getting tickets to the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Avery Fisher Hall is a holiday tradition for New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers alike. This year, Emmanuelle Haïm will conduct newcomers Camilla Tilling, Time Mead, Kenneth Tarver, and others in the soaring 1741 oratorio. Some performances include a pre-concert talk. Go even earlier and check out Lincoln Center’s majestic tree. Several performances beginning on Tuesday, December 18, at 7:30 pm, tickets required.
Sufjan Stevens brings his indie eclecticism to the Bowery Ballroom for two special concerts right before Christmas. What makes them so special? His earnest enthusiasm for all things Yuletide, for one; unicorns and an intense electronic version of “Jingle Bells” for another. A review of the performance, whose full title is “Surfjohn Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Tour: Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice,” in Tucson called it “a night of deliberate holiday kitsch . . . an ugly Christmas sweater gone awry.” It’s not for everybody, but neither is egg nog. Friday, December 21, and Saturday, December 22, at 8 pm, tickets required.
Performed by members of the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society, Tinsel Tunes by the Tinseltones features songs from 1850 to 1950. The concert takes place in the parlor, bedecked in vintage Christmas decorations. The Merchant’s House is the former home of a wealthy merchant family from the 19th century that’s been preserved inside and out (it’s now a museum). It’s said that members of the Tredwell family, who lived here for almost a century, still haunt the halls. Saturday, December 22, at 7:30 pm, tickets and reservations required.
If songs about Santa aren’t your thing, head to the annual Klez for Kids concert, where you can dance, sing, and learn some Yiddish. Clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest perform Eastern European Jewish music. The concert ends with a shtetl wedding—audience participation most definitely encouraged. Completed in 1887, the Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side is considered by many to be the first significant house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in the United States. Tuesday, December 25, at 1 pm, tickets and RSVP required.