Perhaps it's the imposing, sparkly venues, fond memories of my years growing up in choir, or simply the mood holiday music and lyrics evoke, but it's not truly the season for me until "choirs of angels" are singing—be it young carolers or professional ensembles. With strings, piano accompaniment, or even my favorite, a cappella, it's all good when there's passion backing the tunes.
But we have more than that in Minnesota—there's skill and artistry, too. And now that it's December, it's officially time to be serenaded. Here are a few places you can visit to hear some local talent in action:
VocalEssence: Welcome Christmas
December 1, 2, 7, 8 & 9, 2012 | Locations Vary
Led by Conductor Philip Brunelle, The VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers are back for their annual holiday concert, focusing this time on the Christmas music of Italian and Italian-American composers Ottorino Respighi (Laud to the Nativity), Gian-Carlo Menotti (music from Amahl and the Night Visitors), and Dominick Argento (music from The Masque of Angels). The night also features favorite carols from around the world, plus the winners of the annual Welcome Christmas Carol Contest. Learn more at vocalessence.org/christmas2012 ($20-$45).
Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus Presents "Our First Noel"
December 7, 8, 9, 2012 | Ted Mann Concert Hall
Every year it's a new show, but the same joyous sound. The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is led by their new artistic director, Ben Riggs. Hear favorites like "Silver Bells," "I Saw Three Ships," and "Christmas Time is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and don't be surprised if they asked you to join in. Learn more at tcgmc.org ($25-$48).
The 2012 Candelight Christmas Concert
December 8, 2012 | St. Catherine University, 8 p.m.
Set to the glow of candlelight with seasonal readings intermixed, hear the St. Catherine University Women’s Choir and String Chamber Orchestra perform Gloria in excelsis, featuring contemporary and traditional settings of music for the Advent and Christmas season (Our Lady of Victory Chapel; Free).
Tonic Sol-Fa Holiday Concert
December 10, 2012 | Burnsville Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m.
Popular Minnesota-based harmony group Tonic Sol-fa has performed with the likes of Garrison Keillor and Jay Leno, and is back on their annual holiday tour. The guy's up-tempo, interactive holiday show features Christmas songs from their holiday albums Greatest Time of Year and On Top of The World, plus songs from their latest project, twenty one. Learn more at tonicsolfa.com ($32).
Alison Scott Holiday Concert
December 18, 2012 | Hopkins Center for the Arts, 7 p.m.
Alison Scott grew up in Hopkins, attended MacPhail Center for Music, and returns to Minnesota after experiencing national success, most recently for her newest release, "Chinese Whispers." Scott's soulful voice will ring strong in holiday songs and hits, and will be joined by Kevin Bowe (guitar), Peter Anderson (drums), Steve Price (bass), and James Tyler O’Neill (keyboards). A pre-concert social hour with free appetizers and a cash bar starts at 6 p.m., with the concert at 7 p.m. Learn more at hopkinsartscenter.com ($20).
Katie McMahon Celtic Christmas
December 22, 2012 | The O'Shaughnessy, 7:30 p.m.
Most known as the soprano of Riverdance, Katie McMahon returns to O'Shaughnessy for her ever-popular holiday concert, voicing forgotten songs of yore in Gaelic, English, French, and German.
Minnesota Boychoir Annual Holiday Concert
December 22, 2012 | Ted Mann Concert Hall, 7 p.m.
The Minnesota Boychoir, under the direction of Mark Johnson, will perform sacred and secular music in a variety of styles, along with familiar carols and other songs to ring in the holiday season. These performances are free and open to the public. A freewill donation will be received at each concert. Learn more at boychoir.org.