Behind the Scenes

Lifting up their voices, all around

By Robert Knox
Globe Correspondent / December 1, 2011
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“Messiah’’ sings, symphony orchestras dressed in holiday cheer, open houses, carol sing-alongs - for the region’s many arts groups, it’s the season to celebrate by doing what they do best.

Holiday concerts blend traditional Christmas tunes with festive music from a range of sources, said conductor Emilian Badea, summing up the appeal of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert on Sunday at 3 p.m. at West Middle School. Children perform on stage beside professional musicians, “everybody dresses nicely,’’ and the big family day is concluded with a big reception, Badea said last week.

Young singer Sophie Michaux, a Longy School of Music graduate, makes her debut with a symphony orchestra, singing songs ranging from the holiday favorite “Ave Maria’’ by Schubert, to the “Youkali Tango’’ by 20th-century composer Kurt Weill.

Badea arranged the Weill song for orchestra, featuring the English horn for its heart-breaking quality. “Any time you want your heart melted,’’ he said, call on the English horn.

Hearts are likely to melt elsewhere, too, throughout the coming month as regional ensembles present their holiday concerts. The Atlantic Symphony Orchestra also performs this weekend, offering its “Joyful Noise’’ concert at Thayer Academy in Braintree on Saturday.

The program includes Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks,’’ Leroy Anderson’s “Christmas Festival and Sleigh Ride,’’ plus music by Rossini, Dvorak, and Beethoven.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Wind Symphony presents a Winter Festival Concert at 7:30 tonight in the Watson Fine Arts building on the Wheaton College campus.

Seasonal favorites such as “Up on the Housetop’’ are paired with works by Bizet and Strauss.

The Quincy Symphony Orchestra will perform a program titled “ ’Tis the Season’’ on Tuesday at Quincy High School, with music by Strauss, Anderson, Handel, and Tchaikovsky.

The orchestra will perform with the combined North Quincy and Quincy High School Choral Group and the John Adams Orchestra.

The Southeastern Philharmonic Orchestra will perform next Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Lantana facility in Randolph, in a concert sponsored by the Friends of South Shore Hospital. The Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra has its turn the following weekend when its Holiday Pops takes place in combination with the top-flight Plymouth Festival Chorus, plus the local Federal Furnace School chorus on Dec. 10 and 11 in Plymouth’s Memorial Hall. The program includes Vaughan Williams’s “Fantasia on Christmas Carols’’ and a collection of seasonal music by Irving Berlin, of “White Christmas’’ fame.

Regional choruses will lift their voices in holiday song as well. The Choral Art Society of the South Shore will present “Peace and Joy’’ on Dec. 11 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scituate. The program includes “Better Is Peace’’ from composer Karl Jenkins’s stirring contemporary classic “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,’’ “Dona Nobis Pacem’’ from Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and “Earth Song,’’ described by music director Danica Buckley as “a hauntingly beautiful meditation on a piece by Frank Ticheli.

“Familiar carols and songs of the season abound, along with our ever-popular holiday sing-along,’’ Buckley said, summing up this region’s holiday programs.

The Braintree Choral Society will perform “Laud to the Nativity’’ by Respighi, a cantata based on medieval work by Jacopone da Todi for a mixed chorus with soloists, also on Dec. 11 at Old South Union Church in Weymouth.

The Eastern Nazarene College Choral Union will give free performances of Handel’s “Messiah’’ at 7 p.m. this Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Wollaston Church of the Nazarene.

The 70-member chorus, consisting of students and community members, will be accompanied by the Quincy Bay Chamber Orchestra, a 25-member professional orchestra. The performance features solos by the college’s music students and professional vocalists.

Also in Quincy, the Quincy Choral Society will present “He Is Born!’’ on Dec. 11 at Sacred Heart Church in North Quincy. The program will include music by Rihards Dubra and John Rutter.

The South Shore Conservatory offers Songs of the Season, a chamber music program featuring the conservatory’s voice, harp, piano, woodwind, and brass departments, this Sunday in Hingham. It’s free.

The program includes Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols,’’ a holiday classic since its composition in 1942, consisting of choral settings of medieval English lyrics with a unifying processional and recessional.

Offerings also include “Let the Bright Seraphim’’ by Handel and “Five Songs from James Joyce’’ by John Heiss. Other holiday-themed events include open studios and craft fairs.

Duxbury painter Bettina Lesieur’s studio is open each weekend through Christmas from noon to 5 p.m. On display and for sale will be original paintings and prints by Lesieur and her late father, Robert W. Lesieur. Traditional in style, her oil paintings depict regional subjects such as riverside sunsets, coastal pathways, and island fishing shacks.

Congregation Shirat Hayam will hold its annual Holiday Bazaar on Dec. 11 at The Sanctuary Church at 185 Plain St., Marshfield, with gift ideas ranging from jewelry to hot sauce.

And this weekend the James Library opens the doors for its Holiday Marketplace on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the library and arts center at 24 West St., Norwell.

The market offers artists and artisans selling items including hand-crafted clothing and bags, artwork, jewelry, children’s clothing, and locally made gourmet items and more. Marketplace visitors will get free, live holiday music as well.

Robert Knox can be reached at

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Brockton Symphony Orchestra “Holiday Pops”” Sunday, 3 p.m., at West Middle School, Brockton


Other events:

Atlantic Symphony Orchestra

Southeastern Massachusetts Wind Symphony

Quincy Symphony Orchestra

Southeastern Philharmonic Orchestra;view=Detail

Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra

Choral Art Society of the South Shore

Braintree Choral Society

Eastern Nazarene College Choral Union

Quincy Choral Society

South Shore Conservatory

Bettina Lesieur”s “Annual Holiday Open Studio & Gallery””

Congregation Shirat Hayam

The James Library

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