‘Tis the season to be jolly - and to enjoy a selection of festive music, if the packed programme of Christmas concerts taking place in Manchester is anything to go by.
There’s a wealth of music to accompany the run-up to the most wonderful time of the year, ranging from centuries of classical music to the ever-popular Christmas carols to thrilling contemporary works. And plenty of it can be heard in Manchester throughout December as the city rings to the sound of everything from Baroque choral works to gospel sounds.
We’ve rounded up some of the festive concerts taking place across the city-region during Advent.
Handel’s oratorio Messiah was first performed in 1742 and has been loved by classical music enthusiasts ever since. It’s also a work performed annually in the run-up to Christmas as audiences get to enjoy beautiful arias such as He Was Despised and I Know That My Redeemer Liveth and the massive choral numbers such as For Unto Us A Boy Is Born and the famous Hallelujah Chorus.
Manchester Camerata performed Messiah to a sold-out audience last year and is back at The Monastery in Gorton to play this beloved masterpiece on Sunday 4 December, starting at 3pm. The musicians and singers will perform by candlelight in the stunning surroundings of the Great Nave.
Find out more at the Manchester Camerata website here.
As well as its tradition of playing classical masterpieces such as Messiah the Manchester Camerata has more recently established a popular annual celebration of gospel music in collaboration with the AMC Gospel Choir.
A feast of gospel favourites will be performed at a concert which should not fail to provide a lively and uplifting start to the festive period for music fans of all ages. It is taking place on Sunday 11 December at 2pm at the Albert Hall in Manchester city centre. Find out more, including how to book tickets, on the Manchester Camerata website here.
Anyone who fancies skipping Christmas and getting a sneak preview of the New Year celebrations instead can do so as the talented students of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) are whisking audiences off to Vienna for the popular operetta Die Fledermaus.
Johan Strauss II’s popular work is set in the Austrian capital on New Year’s Eve and Prince Orlofsky is throwing a glamorous ball where the mischievous Doctor Falke is looking to get a playful revenge on his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein, who once left him in a drunken stupor wearing a bat costume for all the town to see.
More than 100 students are involved in the lavish production, which transports the madcap action to a grand liner. Performances are on Saturday 10, Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Thursday 15 and Saturday 17 December and more information is available from the RNCM website here.
GreenMatthews are a musical duo are inspired by the medieval musicians who were known as troubadours and bring the spirit of storytelling through song right up to date with their contemporary approach. They also enjoy a good festive show, and for 2022 are putting on Midwinter Revels.
Following on from A Christmas Carol: In Concert and A Brief History of Christmas, Midwinter Revels offers a musical trip through time to celebrate the tradition of Yule throughout history.
Expect Christmas carols, winter songs, toe-tapping tunes and a plethora of weird and wonderful instruments, along with plenty of Chris Green and Sophie Matthews’ trademark humour.
Midwinter Revels is on Friday 16 December at Waterside Arts in Sale, starting at 7,30pm. More information, including how to book, is on the Waterside Arts website here.
Syd Lawrence Big Band Xmas
For those who prefer to swing into Christmas with uptempo rather than reflective music the Syd Lawrence Big Band is bringing a festive night of high-octane, classic jazz to Manchester.
The group’s repertoire ranges from the wartime bestsellers of the legendary bandleader Glenn Miller to the sounds of the great jazz big bands of the swing era led by the likes of Count Basie to the hit songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
The big band Christmas show is at The Stoller Hall in Manchester city centre on Saturday 17 December from 7.30pm. Find out more at the venue’s website here.
Away In A Manger
Listening to the beautiful sounds of the Kantos Chamber Choir is a popular December tradition for many Manchester music fans and the group is back in the city this year to present a ceremony of carols old and new.
The ensemble will sing everything from world premieres and well-known Christmas favourites which the audience can join in with, providing a cosy concert to start the festivities.
The choir’s concert is on Sunday 19 December at The Stoller Hall at 4pm and more information is available at the venue website here.
Swing Into Christmas
Anyone looking to get their festive season off to a lively start can consider an evening of jazz with the instrumentalists and singers of the Down for the Count Concert Orchestra as they Swing Into Christmas.
The 25-piece group will recreate the swinging sound of the great Capitol Studios recordings which featured iconic singers such as Nat ‘King’ Cole, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. There will be note-perfect renditions of the defining songs of the swing era such as I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Let’s Face The Music and Dance and ‘S Wonderful as well as original arrangements of jazz and Christmas standards.
The concert is at The Stoller Hall on Thursday 22 December starting at 7.30pm. You can find out more or look for tickets at The Stoller Hall website here.