5 Geeky (Classical) Concerts Coming to the Twin Cities in December

The Twin Cities are just brimming with Christmas and Christmas-adjacent classical music concerts coming up over the next month. Here are five of them of special interest to geeks!

1. TubaChristmas

Dates: December 3, 4, 9, and 10, 2016
Times: Various (see website)
Locations: Minneapolis–St. Paul, St. Cloud, Marshall, Austin, and Virginia

Ahh, the tuba, the most noble of brass instruments—or the lowest, at least. Don’t know about TubaChristmas? It was started by Harvey Phillips, former professor of tuba at Indiana University, in honor of his tuba teacher and mentor, who was born on Christmas Day. The series has spread across the country, and there are events being held in 161 cities in 2016, including in eight international cities. You’re welcome to dust off your old tuba, sousaphone, baritone, or euphonium and join the fun, playing a set of nineteen Christmas carols arranged for low brass choir. The rehearsal is a couple hours before the performance, making this a full afternoon of mellow bass-baritone melodies. There are six different performances in Minnesota this year, in various locations including outstate. (Mankato is already past, alas.) Don’t see one near you? Next year, start your own!

Special Notes: There’s a $10 participant fee, and you’ll probably need to bring a stand and a cloth to sop up spit valve discharge, if you decide to participate.

2. David Krakauer, Clarinet, with the Bakken Trio

Date: Sunday, December 4, 2016
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55405 (map)

Christmas really not your thing? Get your klezmer on, along with your literary geekiness, on December 4 at Temple Israel. The Bakken Trio is appearing with David Krakauer, performing a piece written by noted American composer David Schiff based on a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. The other works on the program include a “quirky and funny” duo for violin and cello and a trio by Aram Khatchaturian, who you probably know from the “Sabre Dance” from his 1942 ballet Gayane.

3. The Messiah Sing at St. Olaf Catholic Church

Date: Sunday, December 4, 2016
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: St. Olaf Catholic Church, 215 S 8th St., Minneapolis, MN 55402 (map)

We geeks as a group tend to be super into DIY, so how about DIYing your own holiday concert? Come sing along with 90 minutes of Handel’s most well-known piece, including the “Hallelujah Chorus.” You’ve sung along with it in your car a hundred times, but doing it with a couple hundred of your newest friends will be a very different experience. Every year, St. Olaf Catholic Church holds this singalong, accompanied by a magnificent pipe organ, and it’s sure to be well attended. (If you don’t want to participate, you can go to one of the professional performances at Orchestra Hall on December 9 or 10, or over in St. Paul on December 16–18.)

Special Notes: Download a copy of the score from IMSLP, if you want to be extra geeky, or borrow a copy from the church when you get there.

4. Minnesota Renaissance Choir Presents “A Renaissance Christmas”

Dates: Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 10, 2016
Times: 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday
Location: Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 285 Dale St. N, St. Paul, MN 55103 (map)

Do you feel like the RenFest has a bit too much Fest and not enough Ren? How about a whole concert of Medieval and Renaissance Christmas music, plus new works in the same style, including carols and motets, accompanied by harp? The Minnesota Renaissance Choir is a fairly new organization, and this is the first year they’re doing a Christmas concert, but as a bonus, you have two opportunities to see them. And the price is right, at $10 for adults and $5 for students. Don’t worry: they’ll definitely be singing some Josquin des Prez, but probably not his song about a cricket.

St. Agnes during the day

The Church of St. Agnes. McGhiever, Creative Commons image via Wikimedia Commons

5. Christmas Eve Mass at St. Agnes: Mozart’s Coronation Mass in Its Original Setting

Date: Saturday, December 24, 2016
Time: Preservice music begins at 11:15 p.m.
Location: St. Agnes Church, 535 Thomas Ave. W, St Paul, MN 55103 (map)

You’ve listened to this mass on vinyl and have opinions on Christopher Hogwood’s direction versus the classic German stylings of Herbert von Karajan. So how about going full hipster on your classical-music consumption and listening to the work live in its original intended setting: a proper mass in a big, gorgeous, onion-domed Germanic Catholic church at midnight on Christmas Eve? The performance is free, but if you’ve never been to St. Agnes before, be aware that this is in fact a church service, and there will be people there to worship, not just to listen to the music. That having been said, the choir is excellent, the orchestra is lovely, and the soloists are top notch. If you find yourself so moved, the church and the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs the choir, both accept donations.

Special Notes: Grab one of the copies of the Ordinary Mass if you’d like to sing along with the actual church parts of the mass (in Latin). The sound is best sitting just in front of the second set of arches, about two-thirds of the way towards the back, as the choir is in the rear of the sanctuary.


So, how will you be satisfying your inner classical music geek on this month?

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