A musical Christmas

The nine brothers and sisters in the Dennis family have been performing their own version of a Christmas concert for 27 years now.

"We were young adults when we started," says Annie Dennis Montgomery, at 60 the oldest of the family of three brothers and six sisters. "It's really a blessing that we all still live in the same area."

The Dennis Family Christmas Concert is just one of a half dozen live holiday performances around the Wichita area in the coming week.

"We sing contemporary gospel music," Montgomery said. "We believe that every song about Jesus Christ is a Christmas song, because it's all about him anyway.

"We just have a good time coming together as a family and focusing on the birthday of our Lord and savior," she said.

The concert is at 6 p.m. Sunday at Tabernacle Bible Church, 1817 N. Volutsia. It's free, but an offering will be taken, with proceeds going to the W.G. Williams Community Foundation, a college scholarship fund for youth.

Here's a look at several other holiday concerts coming up:

Stan Kenton Christmas Brass Concert will be at 7 p.m. today at Hillside Christian Church, 8330 E. Douglas.

A group of about 22 professional musicians in the Wichita area will come together to play Kenton's Christmas arrangements, which include "Good King Wenceslas," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The free concert is being underwritten by Fran Elliott in memory of her husband, Mal, who was a big Kenton fan.

Candlelight Christmas Concert. The Friends University Singing Quakers will present their annual Christmas concert today through Sunday. The concert will feature the Singing Quakers and Women's Chorus under the direction of Mark Bartel and the Concert Choir directed by Rolaine Hetherington. The 200-voice Friends University Choral Union will also sing selections.

These popular concerts are known for their audience sing-alongs at the end of each section, as well as the moving finale featuring "Silent Night."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Sebits Auditorium in the Riney Fine Arts Center, on the Friends campus.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. Call 316-295-5537 for more information.

"All I Want for Christmas" is the name of this year's Heart of America Men's Chorus holiday concert. It's a family show that features well-known Wichita actor Tom Frye as Murray the Elf joining the chorus in its holiday high jinks.

The concert will include a visit from Santa, as well as two costumed characters representing the Kyrie Foundation, which is the beneficiary of this year's concert. The foundation raises money for pediatric brain cancer research.

On behalf of the foundation, Heart of America Men's Chorus is holding a toy drive at each of its two performances. Concertgoers are asked to bring a new toy or game that is not gift-wrapped, and that can be enjoyed by children who are confined to the hospital at Christmas.

Concerts will be at 7 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at Plymouth Congregational Church, First and Clifton. A reception will follow each performance.

Tickets are $18 by calling 316-708-4837, or they may be purchased at 2801 E. Central. They also will be sold at the door. Children 12 and under get in free.

Handel's "Messiah." This year will be the 65th performance by the Wichita Choral Society of Handel's "Messiah," conducted by Shawn Chastain, with choir, soloists and orchestra.

Both Christmas and Easter lay claim to performances of this "Messiah." The musical retelling of the life of Christ is appropriate for either holiday, and the first part of the oratorio devoted to the birth of Jesus is particularly moving.

The performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway. Admission is $10.

"The Spirit of Christmas" is the annual holiday concert performed by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Tickets have already been distributed for this popular free event, but those without tickets will be admitted 10 minutes before the concert begins if there is still room available.

The concert features vocalist Nick Saverine and the Butler Community College Concert Choir singing with the orchestra. One of the highlights of the show is the audience sing-along.

The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Century II Convention Hall. Concertgoers are asked to bring nonperishable food items for the Kansas Food Bank.