Hallelujah! Kansas City concert halls filled with holiday music (Handel included)

·5 min read

The holiday season is in full swing, and so is the music.

Canadian Brass and Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will be blowing their horns, while the Kansas City Bronze rings in the holidays. For those who like more intimacy and reflection this time of year, the Bach Aria Soloists offer a program of rarefied baroque delicacies. And for those who really like to go off the beaten path, consider the Kansas City Chorale’s St. Nicholas Cantata, which explores some of the lesser-known myths of Jolly Old St. Nicholas.

Ana Gasteyer

Friends and family are so important during the holiday season. And so are sugar and booze. Ana Gasteyer understands this, and that’s why she’s bringing her “Sugar and Booze Holiday Tour” to Yardley Hall on Dec. 5. The “Saturday Night Live” alum will belt out holiday standards while engaging in sparkling repartée. A pre-show dinner will be available.

7 p.m. Dec. 5. Yardley Hall, Midwest Trust Center, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd. $35-$45. 913-469-4445 or jccc.edu/midwest-trust-center.

Canadian Brass Holiday Concert

Whether it’s those Salvation Army bands playing in front of department stores or angels blowing their horns, brass music and Christmas just seem to go together. Canadian Brass has certainly done its part to make the holidays merrier over the years. The Harriman-Jewell Series will present the brilliant brass quintet in a jolly holiday concert Dec. 6 at Helzberg Hall.

7 p.m. Dec. 6. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $17.50-$85. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org.

Kansas City Chamber Orchestra

If you’re looking for a festive concert without an emphasis on overtly Christmas music, the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra’s “Joyful Holidays” might be just the ticket. Carolyn Watson will lead the orchestra in a joyous, upbeat concert of music by Bach, Vivaldi and other composers Dec. 7 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. A highlight will be Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” Suite, a guaranteed spirit-lifter.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 7. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $15-$50. 816-960-1324 or kcchamberorchestra.org.

Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will take you back to the Swinging ’60s with “Hallelujah Holidays” Dec. 7 at Helzberg Hall. The concert will feature “Soul Jazz,” the 1960s genre that combined swing, bebop, rhythm and blues and soul music.

7 p.m. Dec. 7. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $33.50-$68.50. 816-225-4949 or kcjo.org.

Stile Antico

The superb English choral ensemble Stile Antico was originally scheduled to perform “A Renaissance Christmas” live in Kansas City. Due to COVID-19 travel regulations, however, the group had to cancel their planned tour. But the Friends of Chamber Music devised an ingenious work-around. They asked Stile Antico to video some of the selections they were going to perform. On Dec. 9, those video excerpts will be shown at the Folly Theater, while the Kansas City Chorale conducted by Charles Bruffy performs the rest of the program live. Christmas is saved!

7:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. $35-$40. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.

Kansas City Chorale

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, but do you know that St. Nicholas once restored three boys to life who had been pickled by an unscrupulous butcher? That’s just one of the myths about the original St. Nicholas that Benjamin Britten brings to life in his St. Nicholas Cantata. The Kansas City Chorale conducted by Charles Bruffy will perform the work Dec. 10 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. One of the neat things about Britten’s cantata is that it allows for occasional congregational singing. So do your vocal warm-ups.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $20-$25. 816-444-7150 or kcchorale.org.

Christmas With Kansas City Bronze

Like brass bands, handbells sound so good during the Christmas season. Kansas City Bronze will ring in the holidays Dec. 11 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The resonant sound of the bells in the church’s acoustics should send chills down the spine.

4 p.m. Dec. 11. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1307 Holmes St. $10. festivalsingers.org/kcbronze.

Bach Aria Soloists

For a refined, intimate and totally classy holiday concert, no one does it better than Bach Aria Soloists. On Dec. 11 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the quartet made up of violinist and artistic director Elizabeth Suh Lane, keyboardist Elisa Williams Bickers, cellist Hannah Collins and soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson, will be joined by the rich bass voice of Gabriel Lewis O’Connor. In addition to seasonal works by Handel, Mozart and Bach, a generous selection of holiday favorites will be performed.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $20-$40. 816-820-1473 or bachariasoloists.com.

Kansas City Symphony’s ‘Messiah’

In 1916, the Independence Messiah Choir began what is probably Kansas City’s longest continuing musical tradition: the annual Christmas performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” In recent years, the Kansas City Symphony has carried on the tradition, which is still a seasonal must for many Kansas Citians. Dec. 10 through 12, guest conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley will lead the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus and an excellent group of soloists in Handel’s masterpiece. Helzberg Hall will be filled with hallelujahs.

7 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11, 2 p.m. Dec. 12. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $30-$85. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

Classical KC

You can also enjoy Christmas music from the comfort of your own home. Stephen Steigman, the director of 91.9, Classical KC, has been putting the final touches on the radio station’s special holiday programming. A few of the highlights include “A Chanticleer Christmas” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20; “A Soulful Christmas,” a celebration of spirituals, gospel music, jazz and other Black musical traditions, at 8 p.m. Dec. 22; and “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England at 9 p.m. Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

Steigman says that the amount of Christmas music the station plays will increase day by day until Dec. 22 when it goes all Christmas.

For the complete Classical KC holiday schedule, go to kcur.org and search for “holiday programming.”

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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