Ring in the Holidays

The holidays liven our senses like no other season: the smell of cinnamon and pine needles, the taste of gingerbread and eggnog, the feel of cold air and warm mittens, and the sight of snowmen and ice skates. Here in Marin, we have several sophisticated musical groups who will share their talents throughout this season.

Marin Symphony has been ushering in the holidays with a candlelit concert for nearly three decades. Executive Director Noralee Monestere recounts, “One audience member told me that she brought her children when they were babies. Those kids, now are grown, still come and are bringing their children.” For this family favorite, 30 of the best voices sing carols from around the world. Many songs are sung with choral members dispersed in various locations around the church, lending a stereophonic sound to the music. Purchase tickets early; this concert often sells out. $30 in advance at 415.479.8100, marinsymphony.org

Marin Symphony Chamber Chorus
Holiday Concerts by Candlelight
Church of Saint Raphael (San Rafael)
December 5 & 6

Mill Valley Philharmonic, made up of more than 50 local musicians from all walks of life, will perform a unique concert on the beautiful grounds of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. The concert is in honor of milestone anniversaries for both groups (Mill Valley Philharmonic celebrates its 10th and Golden Gate Seminary, its 50th). Though you can hear the award-winning orchestra during its regular concert series each year, it’s a rare opportunity to hear them perfom a holiday concert. The show includes mostly baroque Christmas music and traditional sing-along carols. Bring the whole family for this free event. millvalleyphilharmonic.org

Mill Valley Philharmonic
Christmas Celebration
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Mill Valley)
December 6

San Domenico High School’s Virtuoso Program is priming the next generation of great musicians. This group has been named “best high school orchestra” twice by the American String Teachers’ Association and will compete for the title again in 2010. Young musicians entering San Domenico must audition to be in the program, which has intensive string classes; students often go on to perform at the professional level. This is your chance to hear these rising stars locally and free of charge before they head off to their big competition.

Virtuoso Program Chamber Music Recital
San Domenico School (San Anselmo)
December 7

Marin Oratorio has been part of Marin’s musical landscape for close to 40 years. Now it boasts more than 100 talented singers spanning several generations from high school students to octogenarians. They are known for their elegant interpretations of great choral masterpieces, such as “Elijah,” which they will perform this year in honor of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn 200 years ago. Tickets are available at the College of Marin Box office, 415.485.9385, marinoratorio.org

Marin Oratorio “Elijah”
College of Marin Fine Arts Theater (Kentfield)
December 12 & 13

American Bach Soloists began with the idea of using the best American performers of 17th– and 18th–century music to perform together. Lucky for Marinites, St. Stephens Church in Belvedere is their base. For the last 15 years, American Bach Soloists have kicked off their season with Messiah at San Francisco’s historic Grace Cathedral. This year, they perform Handel’s 1753 version of this oratorio favorite. Tickets range from $20 to $60, with discounts available for children, students and seniors. Purchase at 415.621.7900, americanbach.org

American Bach Soloists Handel’s Messiah
Grace Cathedral (SF)
Dec 17 & 18