The Kansas City Symphony’s Christmas Festival is a tinsel-filled, jingling affair that’s become a much-anticipated holiday tradition. It’s an old-fashioned Christmas show with full-blown arrangements of favorite carols, handbells, vaudevillian schtick and a visit from Santa. What’s not to love? And this year the Kansas City Symphony’s new associate conductor, Jason Seber, will make his debut leading the festivities.
If you’ve already blown your budget this holiday season, not to worry. The Harriman-Jewell Series comes to the rescue with a free Discovery Concert featuring the superb ensemble WindSync.
The youthful quintet of wind players includes flutist Garrett Hudson, oboist Emily Tsai, clarinetist Julian Hernandez, bassoonist Kara LaMoure and horn player Anni Hochhalter. WindSync has made a name for itself with its unique take on classical music. Its Discovery Concert focused on Christmas music with carols, folk tunes and selections from “The Nutcracker” all on the program. Expect a lot of fun, including clever staging and choreography.
7 p.m. Dec. 15. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th. Free. To print up to four tickets, go to HJSeries.org.
William Baker Festival Singers
Candlelight, Carols and Cathedral, the annual concert by the William Baker Festival Singers, always warms the soul. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will be illuminated by the soft glow of candlelight while William Baker leads his choir in a concert modeled after the Anglican service of Lessons and Carols with traditional carols and more adventurous contemporary music. This year’s program features the world premiere of “O Magnum Mysterium” by Ed Frazier Davis and a setting of the Gloria by choir member and composer Sean Sweeden.
Octarium has been one of Kansas City’s most important choral ensembles since its founding in 2003. But its run of superb music-making might be coming to an end, according to its founder and conductor, Krista Lang Blackwood.
So you won’t want to miss the group’s two holiday concerts: Holidays with Octarium, Dec. 17 at Covenant Chapel in Leawood, and Lessons and Carols, Dec. 18 at St. Mark Hope and Peace, 3800 Troost Ave.
Blackwood, who now lives in Africa working as a teacher, says this is the last year Octarium is receiving funding from the Jaqueline Griswold Moore trust.
“Unless a benefactor comes out of the woodwork added to the fact that I live in Africa now, these will likely be our last performances for a while,” she wrote in an e-mail.
And that will be a loss for Kansas City. Not only has Octarium provided high-quality choral music, but the group aims to give back. For example, its annual Lessons and Carols program raises money for community outreach programs at St. James and St. Mark Hope and Peace.
Here’s hoping Blackwood and Octarium can find a way to continue their excellent work.
Holidays with Octarium: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Covenant Chapel, 13300 Kenneth Road, Leawood. Free. Lessons and Carols: 2 p.m. Dec. 18 at St. Mark Hope and Peace, 3800 Troost Ave. Donations accepted. Octarium.org.
The Messiah Singalong is a hearty way to celebrate the holidays. Purchase a score before the concert and then add your voice to those of some of Kansas City’s finest singers. This year the soloists are soprano Paulette Resch, countertenor Jay Carter, tenor Joseph DeSota and bass Edward Straub. Jack Ergo will conduct the Kansas City Baroque Consortium.
4 p.m Dec. 17. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th. Free. KCCathedral.org.
The Tivoli Cinemas in Westport is offering two HD screenings that are not only a great escape but high art, as well.
Saturday, Dec. 17, you can see the Royal Opera’s extravagant production of Jacques Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann.” Based on the works of E.T.A. Hoffmann (the author of “The Nutcracker”), the opera features some of the most beautiful music ever written and three heart-breaking stories to appeal to the hopeless romantic in us all. It’s an all-star cast, too, featuring Vittorio Grigolo, Thomas Hampson and Sonya Yoncheva.
“Nutcracker” aficionados will not want to miss the Royal Ballet’s take on the holiday classic on Sunday, Dec. 18. With all the resources at its disposal, one can count on a spectacular “Nutcracker” from the Royal Ballet. With choreography by the legendary Peter Wright, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Nov. 25, a colossal growing Christmas tree and sets and costumes based on 19th-century images, this is a “Nutcracker” for traditionalists and lovers of splendor.