Fans of classical Christmas music have plenty to be jolly about during the month of December. From large choral groups and the perennial fare by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to more intimate performances by chamber ensembles, the Atlanta metro area soon will be steeped in the sounds of the season. We’ve scoured the city’s offerings for 10 recommended holiday concerts. All are family friendly, but some programs cater more directly to children.
Spelman-Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert
Now in its 89th year, the annual concert features the glee clubs from Morehouse College and Spelman College and offers a range of traditional carols and Christmas tunes from around the world. The choirs will perform annual highlights including “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian carol given a thrilling, kinetic arrangement, and “We Are Christmas,” written by the chair of Spelman’s music department, Kevin Johnson. All performances are free, but the Dec. 5 performance requires a ticket, available at www.ticketalternative.com. This program also will be streamed live at www.spelman.edu/livestream at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 5 at Sisters Chapel, Spelman College. Dec. 4 and 6 at MLK Jr. Chapel, Morehouse College. Free. www.spelman.edu.
Deck the Halls: Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus
Celebrating the 35th edition of its annual holiday concert, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus promises a diverse selection of old favorites and new tunes. In past years, the concert has featured performances of more adult tunes such as “Grown-Up Christmas List” beside a medley from the holiday film classic “White Christmas.” The original chorus, which was founded in 1981 as a 45-voice ensemble, expanded in 2013 to encompass the Atlanta Women’s Chorus through the organization Voices of Note. The combined choirs boast 150 members. Dec. 4-5 at The Cathedral of St. Philip. $17-$45. www.voicesofnote.org.
Calmus: Christmas Carols of the World
The five-voice ensemble from Leipzig, Germany, presents a program featuring traditional tunes from around the world, including Ireland’s “Wexford Carol” and “Rise up, shepherd, and follow,” a tune published in the mid-1800s in the United States. These are programmed with fare from Russia (“Reiko Füting Eta notsch swjataja”), France (“Il est né, le divin enfant”) and Puerto Rico (“Juan Garcia De tierra lejana venimos”). The concert takes place at Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall – one of the best venues in the metro area. Dec. 5 at Spivey Hall. $40. www.spiveyhall.org.
Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna
Established in the 1200s, the storied Vienna Boys Choir is one of the oldest all-boy ensembles not associated with a college or church. These days, the choir has been divvied up into four mini-ensembles of about 25 boys each that rotate tours and studio time. The choir last appeared at Symphony Hall in October 2013. The performance will feature holiday hits, traditional carols and popular sing-alongs. Dec. 9 at Symphony Hall. $19.50-$59.50. www.atlantasymphony.org.
A Skylark Christmas
The Skylark Vocal Ensemble, a chamber choir composed of singers from Atlanta and Boston, will present an intimate arrangement of carols, secular and sacred songs at three churches. Ten singers will perform different versions of the hymn “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” from a 1933 Christmas cantata by Hugo Distler. The variations will be interspersed with holiday music from the Renaissance and early 20th century. Dec. 11 at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church, free. Dec. 12 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, $30. Dec. 13 at Redeemer Lutheran, free. www.skylarkensemble.org.
Christmas with the Atlanta Master Chorale
The Atlanta Master Chorale’s holiday concerts, which draw from a repertoire including Benjamin Britten’s “A Hymn to the Virgin” and Francis Poulenc’s “Hodie, Christus natus est!,” present a traditional view of the season. The ensemble, led by Eric Nelson, Emory University’s director of choral studies, received the Margaret Hills Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America in 2013. Dec. 12-13. Schwartz Center at Emory University. www.atlantamasterchorale.org.
Christmas with the ASO
A distant relative of Robert Shaw’s early CBS radio Christmas spectacular, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s annual Christmas concert will unite the orchestra with 400 voices from the Gwinnett Young Singers, the Morehouse College Glee Club and the ASO Chorus for one of the most popular holiday celebrations of the season. Chorus director Norman Mackenzie leads a varied program of holiday music, some presented individually by each ensemble, capped by performances by the entire collective. Dec. 12-13. Symphony Hall. www.atlantasymphony.org.
Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta
The program for the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta’s annual holiday concert is simple. It’s composed of Santa’s favorite classical tunes. More kid friendly than some of the other holiday picks, the concert promises “treats to good listeners” from an ensemble made up of the city’s top classical musicians. Dec. 13 at The Carlos Museum at Emory University. Free. arts.emory.edu.
A Very Merry Holiday Pops
Vocalists Capathia Jenkins and Morris Robinson join the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the All-City High School Chorus for an evening of pop holiday hits. The joyful proceedings will be led by Michael Krajewski, the symphony’s principal pops conductor. Dec. 17, 19 at Symphony Hall. $20-$65. Dec. 18 at Bailey Center at Kennesaw State University. $20-$60. www.atlantasymphony.org.
A Coro Vocati Christmas
Latin for “choir of the called,” Coro Vocati is a group composed of members who have pursued their calling as church singers, music educators and performers. In past Christmas programs, the group has performed Eric Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque” and Craig Courtney’s “A Musicological Journey through the Twelve Days of Christmas.” Dec. 20. All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Free. www.corovocati.com.