Thursday, December 1

This month Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is going to be putting on two masterworks by Bach and Handel (first the Mass in B Minor, then Messiah) along with soloists, and Bruce Lamott and the Philharmonia Chorale. Conductor Nicholas McGegan says both works leave a lot of decision making up to the performers – since the composers were constantly revising, adapting and re-working their music.

A pair of tickets to Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's Messiah on Saturday, December 10th is KDFC's Big Night Out contest this week.  And congratulations to the Orchestra and Nicholas McGegan for a Grammy nomination for best Orchestral Performance!

Friday, December 2

When is a concert not a concert? When it's a 'concital.'  Jon Nakamatsu and the Symphony Silicon Valley present a concital in San Jose, with the first half a solo piano recital, and the second a symphonic Chopin piano concerto.

There's more information at Dianne's Top Five

Monday, December 5

 We're in the middle of the "Sing-along Messiah" season – if you've got the urge to join the choruses, there is some preparation you can do… even if all you really want to do is sing the Hallelujah chorus.

Find information about Messiah performances, sing-along (and listen-along) here.  (And you can find those one-part only version videos here)

Tuesday, December 6

Pianist Sarah Cahill and the Berkeley Symphony present a rare performance of Bay Area composer Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto on Thursday at Zellerbach Hall. It's a work that fuses the composer's love for Indonesian traditions and medieval dance, and requires a special "cluster bar" to help the performer play blocks of notes. 

There's more information about the concert here.

Wednesday, December 7

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has two San Francisco performances this week as part of its west coast tour. It's one of six major orchestras from around the US to play here in honor of the Symphony's centennial. Ludovic Morlot, of the Seattle Symphony is substituting for his mentor, James Levine, who recently stepped down as Music Director of the BSO.

Thursday, December 8

In the centennial season of the San Francisco Symphony, this is actually the day – 100 years ago this afternoon the orchestra gave its first concert. As part of the festivities, music historian Scott Foglesong has tracked down every recording he could possibly find made by the SFS, which will be featured in podcasts released by the by Symphony.

WEBEXTRA: Scott Foglesong describes putting together the discography:

WEBEXTRA: Foglesong on the first-ever recording made by the San Francisco Symphony:

Friday, December 9

It's not every day you get to hear a concerto conducted by the composer, and played by the soloist for whom it was written. But Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto (which just won the University of Louisville's Grawemeyer Award, one of the biggest prizes in all of classical music) is being performed with Leila Josefowicz and the San Francisco Symphony in a series of concerts through Saturday.

There's more information at Dianne's Top 5

Monday, December 12

The all-male "Orchestra of Voices" Chanticleer is back in the Bay Area for their annual series of Christmas concerts, and they're going pretty much non-stop from now until the 23rd of December. It's one of the busiest times of the year for the choir, as they sing a broad repertoire from plainchant to gospel. And you can bet they'll be singing Franz Biebl's 1964 arrangement of Ave Maria, the lovely setting they've made their own.

Keep up with Chanticleer's upcoming performances here.

Tuesday, December 13

Holiday travel is a little more culturally uplifting at the San Francisco International Airport this winter. During the height of holiday travel season, the series called "You Are Hear" brings area musicians to perform at the terminals (some before security, some after) to entertain those waiting for planes, and new arrivals.

Find out more about the schedule of performers here.

Wednesday, December 14

The Canadian Brass will be playing two shows at Yoshi's over the weekend. Trumpeter and arranger Brandon Ridenour says he prefers the cozier venue of a Jazz club to a big hall, where the audience is farther away. The quintet, which got its start in 1970 has just released a CD called "Canadian Brass Takes Flight," following quickly on the disc of Brahms transcriptions that came out just in September.

There's more about their San Francisco appearance at Dianne's Top 5

Thursday, December 15

Today, a re-working of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" for the Classical music lover – from Steve Reich's Drumming and the piper piping at Peter Maxwell Davies' An Orkney Wedding with Sunrise… down to William Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, and  Haydn's Parisian "Hen"…

Friday, December 16

San Jose State University's Beethoven Center is celebrating the composer's birthday with the final days of an exhibit tracing his influence in America's popular culture… More than just a hero to Schroeder, there were comic books in WWII celebrating Beethoven, the creator of the "V for Victory" motif from the Fifth Symphony. You can visit the Center's website here.

Monday, December 19

John Rutter is one of the most prolific choral composers and arrangers working today. His new holiday CD, "The Colors of Christmas" is an attempt to capture some of the feeling of attending the sold-out Royal Albert Hall concerts he conducts each December.

WEB EXTRA:  John Rutter on Christmas music and choirs

WEB EXTRA: John Rutter on the disc and carol "The Colors of Christmas"

Tuesday, December 20

The top-selling CDs from our "CD of the Week" picks of 2011 seem to have some things in common – composers, repertoire, and even one not-so-likely bit of film music make multiple appearances on the list. You can find the complete list of recordings here.

Wednesday, December 21

The Magik*Magik Orchestra is an ensemble-for-hire that can add instrumental colors and shadings from the world of classical music to songs by rock and pop artists. Orchestra founder Minna Choi puts together a tailor-made group of  conservatory-trained players for each assignment, whether it's for a live concert performance, or as the house band at singer-songwriter John Vanderslice's "Tiny Telephone" recording studio.

Find out more about the Orchestra here.

Thursday, December 22

The short and the long of it… Days begin to grow longer once again, now that we've reached the winter solstice, so we take a look at a short piece of music, a long piece, and some very long pieces indeed. From seconds to years, things are getting longer today!

Friday, December 23

James Carpenter stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in American Conservatory Theater's presentation of A Christmas Carol.  As the run of the show heads to its final, Christmas Eve-afternoon performance, Carpenter describes the role as being like a "mini King Lear".

Find out more about the production at A.C.T.'s website.