Classical Music Geek: The CMG Concert Calendar: December 2021

I had fun doing this last month, so I’m going to do it again! Same disclaimer: I can only be in one place at a time, and sometimes that place is somewhere other than the concert hall. Just because I recommend it doesn’t mean I’m going to be there.

Another note: almost all of these concerts have student discounts. Someone with a student ID rarely has to pay more than $20 anywhere.

MESSIAHS
I miss the Messiah so much, but I’m pretty sure one will be enough. Two tops. But you deserve to know about all of them!

December 3, 4, 5mat | Church of St. Vincent Ferrer | $20 and up

This is the one I’m going to — Saturday night, in case you care. TENET is one of those ensembles that I build my schedule around. Their programming is uniformly great, and it also happens to be the music for which I’m always in the mood: small vocal ensemble early music. A few people I know are in this one — old chamber coaches, conductors, a tenor who snapped me back to tempo when I dragged egregiously at my first conducting gig. That tenor also happens to have the sweetest, clearest voice that I’ve ever heard. You think I’m joking. Just wait until you hear Jimmy Reese.

December 9 | Saint Thomas Church | $20 and up

cond. Filsell; Brailey, Sollek, Müller, Pike

December 14, 15, 17, 18 | The Riverside Church | $109 and up (is that fucking possible?)

cond. Sorrell; Forsythe, Holiday, Phan, Deas

I have friends in this one — actual friends who I went to college with. One of them is staying with me for the duration of the gig. I will only be going to this if I win one of the four (4) tickets in the comp lottery, because great as Jeanette Sorrell, Amanda Forsythe, John Holiday, and Nick Phan are (I’m sure Kevin Deas is great too, I’ve just never seen him) there’s no chance in HELL I am forking over $110 to hear the NY Phil plod through the Messiah on autopilot. No way, no how.

December 16 & 17 | Roulette Intermedium | $20 and up

Okay, maybe don’t go to this one if you actually want to hear the Messiah start to finish. Heartbeat is a small company with big ideas — the rest of their season includes a Fidelio that comments on mass incarceration and a new short film pastiche centered around social commentary operas. But this, this is their annual drag show. Often it happens on Halloween. I’m just as excited for the Christmas iteration.

December 20 | Stern Auditorium (Carnegie Hall) | $28 and up

cond. Tritle; Fagan, Petrie, Blue, Outlaw

OTHER MORE EXCITING STUFF

December 5 | Corpus Christi Church | $5 and up

This is another series that I’ve been awaiting impatiently. Sunday afternoon will be their first live concert since the shutdown, though they’ve been putting out phenomenal virtual programming. I actually wrote my first musical thought piece (no, you may not read it) about a fantastic 2018 Stile Antico performance that MB1800 sponsored. Plus, one of my best friends is playing a concerto — join me to support Vivian!

December 9 | Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center| $20 and up

Three weeks ago, this performance would have flown far under my radar. But William Socolof was one of the primary characters in last month’s Rossi L’Orfeo at Juilliard, and he almost ran away with the show. He’s got this lovely rich voice, but rich with the kind of levity that doesn’t disqualify him from comedic roles. His program is interesting too — old and new in what looks like equal-ish measure!

December 9 | Miller Theatre | $20 and up

I know very little about Kati Agócs except that she teaches at New England Conservatory, but I’ve never seen anything at Miller that falls short of spectacular. I trust that the new cantata they’re presenting for their first concert in 18 months will stick to form. Besides which, Lucy Dhegrae is one of the best soprano’s on NYC’s new music scene — she stunned in a modern opera double bill mere days before NYC shut down in March 2020.

December 9 | 92Y | $10 and up

Occasionally (pretty rarely these days), I listen to an album and have what I call a “holy shit” moment. I call it that because it’s the moment where I stop whatever I’m doing and say, usually out loud, “Holy shit.” (I’m very creative.) I had a one of those moments on the first track of Randall Goosby and Zhu Wang’s recent album. And again during the Heifetz Gershwin arrangements. 

Factor in the distances: half-hour subway commute to both Merkin and Miller, but an hour on the subway/bus or a very expensive 15-minute cab ride to 92Y. On a Thursday night. I’m leaning Kati Agócs, but my mind may change.

December 9-12 (12mat) | Neidorff-Karpati Hall (Manhattan School of Music) | $30

Because who doesn’t want to see a production with this poster?

December 10 – January 5 | Met Opera House | $30 and up

I just really, really, really love The Magic Flute. Enough to go see it in a language that’s not German. Plus, this keeps going when most other things shut down — I’ll see this on, like, a random weekday after Christmas when nothing else is happening.

December 11 | St Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church | $35 and up

I told you I build my schedule around them! Not a ton of Praetorius on the concert market today, other than holiday pop arrangements of “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming.” Pro tip: a good choir backed by a good baroque brass ensemble is one of life’s hidden joys. Happy 400th/450th Mikey!

December 11 | Zankel Hall (Carnegie Hall) | $65 and up

It’s a steep price for what looks like a great program. I haven’t listened to the album that this program comes from, but these performers and composers are simply never bad, it’s just a matter of great versus extraordinary.

I may actually be able to make both of these work — TENET runs until 8:30, this starts at 9.

December 14 | Alice Tully Hall | $35 and up

There is no music that can make me happy faster than well-played, period-informed Mozart. The American Classical Orchestra’s member list looks largely similar to most other period ensembles around the city, and those ensembles are also great! I absolutely adore Aisslinn Nosky’s playing — plus she won an Emery award way back in the day, I still haven’t forgotten the green of those sneakers. You can dig for the review yourself, that was one of the embarrassing ones.

December 17 | The Jazz Gallery | $35 and up

I literally learned about Henry Threadgill in my jazz history class. Need I say more?

December 19 | Corpus Christi Church | $5 and up

I don’t know a ton about Ars Lyrica Houston, but I trust the curators of this series enough to come to anything they mount. I’ve always been curious about Baroque music of the new world — what I’ve heard, I’ve enjoyed. Some of it is in Quechua!

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