Tis the season to listen to Christmas choirs and musical performances

Here’s a rundown of some choral and musical performances happening around Metro Vancouver in December

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Given the growing popularity of quirky advent calendars, you might think one could be put together to hold all of the seasonal music on offer in December.

Nice idea but because of the overwhelming commercial propensity to mount concerts on weekends, not very practical. And the sheer amount of music available to sample in the near future makes the end of November none too soon to start making plans. On your mark. Get set …

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Vancouver’s holiday season traditionally launches with Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra, and this year is no exception. The internationally renowned choir for women’s voices offers programs at Surrey’s Good Shepherd Church on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m., and at Pacific Spirit United Church in Kerrisdale on Dec. 3 at 3 p.m.

No less than three separate productions of The Messiah are scheduled for December, as well as a DIY sing-along version on Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church.

For those who prefer listening to singing, Early Music Vancouver showcases a quartet of soloists, the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the Pacific baroque Orchestra in an authentic instruments/informed performance practice version of Handel’s greatest hit on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum.

For North Shore Messiah enthusiasts who prefer to avoid pre-holiday traffic on the bridges, there’s a performance on Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at West Vancouver’s Kay Meek Centre.

The Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra’s Messiah in the Valley brings Handel to three venues south of the Fraser on Dec. 10, 15 and 20, but launches the series right downtown at Holy Rosary Cathedral on Dec. 9 at 2 p.m.

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And if you can hold off another week, there’s another North Shore Messiah conducted by Lars Karrio with the Paragon Singers and the Laudate Singers on Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. at West Vancouver United Church.

Musica intima
Musica intima offers two very different seasonal shows. Photo by musica intima

The first of musica intima’s two seasonal shows is In Winter’s House on Dec. 9 at Performance Works on Granville Island. The lowercase choir promises “the whole gamut of seasonal music,” including old favourites and new ways of celebrating with music.

That same day, the Phoenix Chamber Choir has a pair of shows on the go: A morning matinee on Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. at Pacific Spirit United Church, with Vox Panacea as guest artists. This is an hour-long program specially tailored for family listening. The Phoenix presents a more formal program in the same venue that afternoon with Sure on this Shining Night at 3 p.m., this time with Burnaby’s Sound Wave Handbell Choir as guest artists.

Chor Leoni holds off until mid-month for its showy “Christmas With Chor Leoni” production. This is a big deal: No less than six shows from Dec. 17 to 19, downtown at St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. Check chorleoni.org for specific concert dates and times.

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Chor Leoni
Chor Leoni sing six shows at St. Andrew’s-Wesley. Photo by David Cooper

In search of some last-minute music? Both the Vancouver Cantata Singers and musica intima have programs just before you-know-when.

Ding Dong, a lighthearted proposition musica intima bills as a”slightly unhinged concert-going experience,” is on at St. James Community Square in Point Grey on Dec. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

That same day sees the Vancouver Cantata Singers’ 20th Christmas Reprise. Old favourites join recently composed works, including the late Jocelyn Morlock’s enchanting Io, Io! and a new commission by up-and-coming choral composer Sam Dabrusin.

The invariably packed afternoon show is at 2 p.m. in Holy Rosary Cathedral but, if the thought of downtown on the last shopping Saturday before the holidays fills you with trepidation if not outright fear, consider this: The VCS offer a 7:30 p.m. performance at Queens Avenue United Church in New Westminster.

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