Revel in Resolutions
No mall tunes allowed: Houston's hot holiday classical music picks
A holiday season without music is like Valentine’s Day without an annoying ex to complain about, gossip about and mock.
You should understand I am not referring to the obnoxious noise that sometimes attempts to pass incognito as music, like the second hand rubbish often piped in at malls, elevators or certain websites, attempting to lure us into the gift giving (for some reckless spending) season.
And there is plenty of that sort of, for lack of a better term, music.
I am speaking of music with merit. The kind that moves you, the kind that makes you reminisce of things past and the kind that will make you concentrate on the spirit and essence of the holiday rather than the physical activities that seem to sometimes dominate our focus.
Not to worry. Houston’s art scene has you covered. With a diverse web of music organizations to keep you aesthetically fulfilled from here to infinity and beyond, here are some of my top picks.
Mercury Baroque hits the power suburb
Mercury Baroque’s use of period instruments will give you a taste of the original essence of Handel's Messiah, the complete 1741 Dublin version (prior to multiple revisions by the composer through 1754). Conductor Antoine Plante never disappoints at Wortham Center and now Mercury Baroque hits The Woodlands for a 2 p.m. Sunday show at the John Cooper School.
Ticket range from $20 to $35 and can be purchased through Mercury Baroque.
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) Brass Quintet
Big surprise right? As one of Houston’s most innovative classical music ensembles, ROCO partners with Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens on Monday from 10 am to 12 pm to bring you holiday tidings in the form of brass quintet chamber music overlooking the stunning, poised and elegant Diana Garden.
Trumpeters George Chase and Logan Kavanaugh, French hornist Gavin Reed, trombonist Brian Logan and Steve Curtis on tuba deck the halls with holiday tunes and fun music, including a few surprises. It’s a ROCO thing.
You can stroll through the museum’s 2010 Yuletide exhibit before and after the performance and enjoy your favorite breakfast pastries, fruit, cider and coffee inside a festive Terrace Tent.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased from MFAH.
The Christmas Revels 2010 — A Celtic Celebration of the Winter Solstice
And now for something a little delightfully different. Revels Houston presents its 20th annual production of the Christmas Revels, this year themed on the folklore and myths of the Celts, drawing from songs, dance, poetry, stories and games from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and England.
The Celtic show is a revival of a 13-year-old production, the company’s most popular show, and will include many of the original performers. An exceptional blend of music ensembles — Houston's beloved Paragon Brass Ensemble, the Revels Chorus and Istanpitta, an early music ensemble — will showcase music in varying genres, from contemplatively beautiful to exhilarating virtuosity.
Running this weekend (including a 2:30 p.m. Sunday show) and Dec 18-19, tickets range from $25 to $35 for adults and $12.50 to $17.50 for children under 12 and are available by visiting the Revels Houston website.
Ars Lyrica “Musical Resolutions”
No need to say it. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be followed only for a short period of time. Otherwise, a long list of good behavioral patterns accumulated over the years would make life, well, relatively uneventful.
Commingling different baroque genres — concerti, suites and cantatas by Bach, Telemann and Handel — Ars Lyrica’s artistic director and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst assembles a choice cast of Houston-loved artists including angelic soprano Melissa Givens, robust baritone Timothy Jones, recorder virtuoso Kathryn Montoya and sublime baroque flutist Colin St. Martin.
Recently nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award for their world premiere recording of J.A. Hasse’s “Marc Antonio e Cleopatra,” Ars Lyrica, will help you bring in the new year in elegance, style and pleasure. And it's coupled with bubbly and hors d’oeuvres following the performance.
Tickets start at $31.25. Student discounts are available.