It’s not Christmas until you’ve heard a choir sing.
Or two choirs. Or three. Or a whole bunch of ’em, as the case may be. Every year, I like to find out what all of the amazing choirs around the area are doing for Christmastime and compile one big list of top Christmas choral picks.
So here, without further ado, is this year’s list, starting with my Top 10 picks:
1. The Singing Heart: Phoenix Chamber Choir’s annual Christmas concert includes new works and audience favourites, and the choir will be joined by the West Vancouver District Honour Choirs this year. The concert is on at Ryerson United Church, 2195 West 45th Ave., at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 regular, $20 for seniors, $10 for post-secondary students and free (by reservation) to school-aged students. See www.phoenixchoir.ca.
2. A Christmas Story: musica intima is back with its program that includes traditional holiday favourites and contemporary works, encouraging everyone to slow down and take time out to enjoy the warmth of the season. It’s on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Knox Presbyterian Church in New Westminster; Friday, Dec. 18 at St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Vancouver; and Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. See www.musicaintima.org.
3. Christmas Reprise XIII: The Vancouver Cantata Singers return with their favourite holiday program, featuring such works as Poulenc’s Salve Regina, de Victoria’ O Magnum Mysterium and Mendelssohn’s Weihnachten, 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19 at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. See www.vancouvercantatasingers.com.
4. Christmas With the Bach Choir: This one’s bound to be a favourite – and rightly so, as it gathers the entire Bach Choir family onstage at the Orpheum Theatre to herald the Christmas season. From the tiny and too-cute-for-words Piccolos (five-year-olds) to the acclaimed symphonic adult choir, the event brings together more than 400 singers in a program of Christmas favourites and seasonal works. It’s on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m. See www.vancouverbachchoir.com.
5. Christmas With the Vancouver Youth Choir: The amazing young talents of the Vancouver Youth Choir – made up of singers aged 15 to 23 - are offering up their Christmas program on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church, 1490 Nanton St. in Vancouver. See www.vancouveryouthchoir.com.
6. Vancouver Chamber Choir: Vancouver Chamber Choir is joined by the Pacifica Singers, Vancouver Youth Choir, harpist Vivian Chen and a brass ensemble for Christmas in the Orpheum, a program of traditional and new Christmas music, 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4 at the Orpheum Theatre. The choir is also offering up A Dylan Thomas Christmas, featuring a Child’s Christmas in Wales, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18 at Shaughnessy Heights United Church in Vancouver; and A Charlie Brown Christmas on Saturday, Dec.19, also at 8 p.m. at Shaughnessy Heights United. Info: www.vancouverchamberchoir.com. (Yes, I just cheated and snuck in three for one. I needed to fit more than 10 in my top 10!)
7. Making Spirits Bright 2015: Feast: The Vancouver Men’s Chorus is promising to brighten up even the hardest hearts with its annual celebratory concert, which runs multiple times. It’s on Dec. 4, 5, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m., with matinees on Dec. 6 and 12 at 3 p.m., all at St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 1130 Jervis St. in Vancouver. See www.vancouvermenschorus.ca.
8. Handel’s Messiah: Yes, the Vancouver Bach Choir makes my top 10 list twice, because it just isn’t Christmas without Messiah! It’s onstage with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Orpheum Theatre at 8 p.m., with four soloists: soprano Simone Osborne, mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, tenor Andrew Haji and baritone Daniel Okulitch. Tickets start at $29. See www.vancouverbachchoir.com.
9. All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914: Chor Leoni Men’s Choir returns to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage for a replay of last year’s fully staged musical/theatrical production, with shows at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Adult tickets start at $35, and student tickets are $20. See. www.chorleoni.org.
10. Christmas With Chor Leoni: Yes, Chor Leoni also makes my list twice – this one for their Christmas concert that features everything from Renaissance motets and sing-alongs to doo-wop and barbershop. It’s on Friday, Dec. 18 at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church at 4:30 and 8 p.m., and again on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. at West Vancouver United Church. Tickets are $30, $35 and $40 (reserved seating), or $10 for students. See www.chorleoni.org.
And one bonus pick to round out my top picks:
11. Christmas Joy: The Amabilis Singers present this program of music celebrating the magic of the Christmas season, 2 p.m. at New Westminster Christian Reformed Church, 8255 13th Ave. in Burnaby. Tickets $20, or free for kids under 12. Call 604-897-7258. Info: www.amabilissingers.org. (And, yes, I do sing with Amabilis. Hey, it’s my blog, I’ll be a shameless self-promoter if I want to!)
But the Christmas magic cannot be contained within a top 10 list. Below, in date order, are a whole bunch of other wonderful choral offerings. Check it out and find a concert or two, or three to enjoy this season.
Saturday, November 28
Chez Nous: Christmas With Elektra: The acclaimed women’s choir, directed by Morna Edmundson, brings its Christmas favourite to the stage twice: 2 p.m. at New Westminster Christian Reformed Church, 8255 13th Ave., and 7:30 p.m. at Ryerson United Church, 2205 West 45th Ave. They’re joined by jazz vocalist Dee Daniels, Jodi Proznick on bass, and the Burnaby Central Secondary Women’s Choir under the direction of Carrie Taylor. See www.elektra.ca.
Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5
Only Joy Aloud: Pandora’s Vox and Espiritu present an array of seasonal songs in three concerts: Firday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., in the Kay Meek Centre, 1700 Mathers Ave. in West Vancouver. Evening tickets are $34 adult, $30 seniors/students; matinees are $32 and $28, with $15 child seats as well. Book at www.kaymeekcentre.com or call 604-981-6335. See www.pandorasvox.ca for more.
Saturday, December 5
Winter Winds: The SFU Choir and the newly formed SFU Chamber Choir offer up a seasonal program that includes C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat and the Western Winds Mass by John Taverner. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Ryerson United Church, 2195 West 45th Ave. Tickets are $20 regular, $10 concession, and children 12 and under are free. See www.sfuchoir.ca.
A Storybook Christmas: The Vancouver Children’s Choir offers up an afternoon of seasonal storytelling, Christmas carols and performances by the children’s choir, 3 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard St. Tickets $20 regular, $10 for students, free for kids six and under. See www.vancouverchildrenschoir.ca.
Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6
Handel’s Messiah: The 120-voice choir of Capilano University is joined by a professional baroque orchestra at the BlueShore at Capilano University for an 8 p.m. Saturday concert and a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee. It features soloists soprano Heather Pawsey, countertenor Mark Donnelly, tenor Mark De Silva and bass George Roberts, conducted by Lars Kaario. Tickets $30 general, $25 seniors, $10 students and children. Call 604-990-7810 or see www.capilanou.ca/centre.
Sunday, December 6
Singing the Season: Join the Chalice Choir for a concert of seasonal music, featuring Dvorak’s Mass in D and a sing-along of Christmas favourites, 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver at Oak and 49th. Reception to follow. Tickets $20, available at the door.
Friday, December 11
An Evening of Lessons and Carols: The Shaughnessy Heights Sanctuary Choir, directed by Ramona Luengen, offers up this concert inspired by the Lessons & Carols service of King’s College, Cambridge, joined by violinist Andrea Siradze and organist Roy Campbell. It’s happening at 7:30 p.m. at Shaughnessy Heights United Church, 1550 West 33rd Ave. Tickets are $20, 604-437-9200.
Christmas With Coastal Sound Youth Choir: The youth choir presents its Christmas show at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church, 1490 Nanton Ave. in Vancouver. Tickets are $20 adults, $15 seniors and students, $10 for children 12 and under. See www.coastalsoundmusic.com.
Friday, December 11 to Sunday, December 13
Celebrate! A Good Noise Christmas: The Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir presents its annual Christmas concert for three shows: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Fraserview MB Church, 11295 Mellis Dr. in Richmond. Tickets are $25, or $20 for students and seniors, $10 for children 12 and under. Buy through brownpapertickets.com, or see www.goodnoisevgc.com for more information.
Dec. 11, 13, 15 and 18
Songs for a Winter’s Night: The Vancouver Orpheus Male Voice Choir presents a variety of seasonal music, including traditional carols and classic popular Christmas tunes, in this concert that runs four times in four locations: Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Langley; Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in White Rock; Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at St. Laurence Anglican Church in Coquitlam; and Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at West Point Gray United Church in Vancouver. See www.vancouverorpheus.org.
Saturday, December 12
A Holly Jolly Christmas: The Maple Leaf Singers bring their sold-out Christmas show to Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Westminster for a 2:30 p.m. concert, featuring seasonal favourites, carols and sing-alongs. The cathedral is at 514 Carnarvon St.
Lyric at Christmas: The Lyric Singers present their concert including Christmas choral music, featuring instrumentalists Ben Goheen on cello, Alan Lopez on violin, Jeremy Ferland on violin and more, 7:30 p.m. at Northwood United Church, 8855 156th St., Surrey. Tickets are $12, or free for children under 12. Info: www.lyricsingers.ca.
Angels and Shepherds: The Vivaldi Chamber Choir presents a program of music that ranges from early baroque composers through the Romantic Russian choral tradition to exquisite settings of carols, 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 1805 Larch St. in Vancouver. See www.vivaldichoir.org.
Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13
Universal Gospel Choir offers up Speak Life: Celebrating Yule 2015, with two concerts at the Canadian Memorial Church at 15th and Burrard in Vancouver – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $30 regular, $25 for students and seniors, $15 for kids under 12 (kids six and under are free). See www.universalgospelchoir.ca.
Sunday, December 13
Christmas With Vivaldi: The North Shore’s Laudate Singers are offering up Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, plus Corelli’s Christmas Concerto played by an 11-piece baroque orchestra, in a 3 p.m. concert at St. Andrew’s United Church in North Vancouver. Tickets are $35 regular, $30 for seniors, $15 with student ID and free for kids 12 and under. See www.laudatesingers.com.
Comfort & Joy: The Coastal Sound family of choirs presents their Christmas extravaganza at 3 and 7 p.m., featuring singers of all ages in a family-friendly program, plus guest harpist Gillian Skinner. Tickets are $20 regular, $15 students and seniors, $10 for children 12 and under. See www.coastalsoundmusic.com.
Got another concert we should know about? Shoot me an email.