Reassurance and recurrence are the main themes for 2019’s classical music scene during the holidays. The Nutcracker? Check. Handel’s Messiah? Check. Pro Musica at the Loretto Chapel and Desert Chorale at the Cathedral Basilica? Check and check. If you’re kicking yourself for having missed out last year on one of these or other Santa Fe traditions, absolution awaits.

And if you’d like to try something new, check out the Mark O’Connor Band’s appearance with the Santa Fe Symphony on Christmas Eve or Joe Illick and the New Year’s Eve Orchestra. There should be plenty of musical cheer for everyone as we head toward the new decade.


7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 and 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Handel wrote it for Easter, it migrated to Christmas, and now the Santa Fe Symphony is offering a secular scheduling twist with these pre-Thanksgiving performances. Principal conductor Guillermo Figueroa leads the orchestra, chorus, and four soloists: soprano Ingela Onstad, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Foley Davis, tenor Jacob Ryan Wright, and baritone Michael Hix. Tickets are $22-$80, with 10 percent discounts available by request to students, military, and first responders (by phone only); 505-983-1414,

Winter Solstice Concert

7 p.m. Nov. 30, Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel 3 p.m. Dec. 1, St. Michael & All Angels Church, Albuquerque

New Mexico Performing Arts Society’s artistic director, Franz Vote, conducts the New Mexico Bach Society Chorale and a six-player instrumental ensemble in Part III of Bach’s sublime Christmas Oratorio, as well as his Cantata No. 62, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (Now Come, Savior of the Heathens), and Vivaldi’s Gloria in D major. $21-$34;,

Carols and Blessings from Around the World

6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 9, 11, and 13, Loretto Chapel

3 p.m. Dec. 14, Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel

The Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble begins its 39th season with these concerts, which offer a wide variety of works, including “The Snow,” by Edward Elgar and his wife, poet C. Alice Elgar; “I Wonder as I Wander,” a Christian folk hymn; and “Christmas,” the first part of The Raney Songs, the group’s newly commissioned work from composer Linda Rice Beck. $20-$35 general admission, $10 students/military; 800-838-3006,

A Celebration of Women

4 p.m. Dec. 7, St. John’s United Methodist Church

The Sangre de Cristo Chorale’s addition to the holiday includes songs by no fewer than nine contemporary female composers, as well as pieces by the 12th-century nun Hildegard von Bingen and 20th-century Irish-born composer Elizabeth Maconchy. The program includes a commissioned work, “Holly Songs,” by the Alabama-based composer Traci Mendel, which music director Fred Graham describes as “a delightful piece that celebrates holly in all its glory and takes a rather irreverent view of other favorite flowers.” Adults $20 in advance, $25 at door, $10 students, age 18 and under free;

Christmas Treasures

4 p.m. Dec. 8

Lensic Performing Arts Center

The symphony’s annual holiday pops concert ranges from the austerely Nordic (the final movement of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2) and the lushly Romantic (Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves”) to the tropically exuberant (Percy Faith’s “Brazilian Sleigh Bells”) and the seemingly inescapable (“White Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride”). Tickets are $22-$80, discounts by request for students, military, first responders (by phone only); 505-983-1414,,

Santa Fe Opera Holiday Concert

2 p.m. Dec. 14

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Soprano Jessica E. Jones and baritone Benjamin Taylor are joined by pianist Robert Tweten, head of the opera’s music staff, for this program of religious music by Mozart and Saint-Saëns; arias from The Barber of Seville, Faust, and Gianni Schicchi; a medley of holiday songs; and an audience sing-along of popular carols. Members of the company’s Young Voices training program are featured in two selections. Free admission, no ticket required; 505-986-5900,

The Nutcracker

2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14; 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 15

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Despite a distinguished pedigree (scenario by Alexandre Dumas, based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky), The Nutcracker was a flop at its premiere. Today, though, it’s probably the most iconic event of our holiday season. Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Mouse King, and the Nutcracker Prince will be joined by dozens of Santa Fe-area children this year in the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s highly praised production. $36-$94; 505-988-1234,

Return to Russia Holiday Concert

5:30 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15

Harwood Museum of Art

Russian pianist Gleb Ivanov returns to Taos, joined by violinist L.P. How, cellist Sally Guenther, flutist Nancy Laupheimer, and bassoonist Samantha Brenner for a trio of 19th-century Russian works: Alexander Borodin’s Piano Trio in D Major, Mikhail Glinka’s Trio pathétique in D minor, and Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor. $25 adults, $12 students; available at museum gift shop, 575-758-9826, and

Carols and Choruses

7 p.m. Dec. 17

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Symphony Choral Director Carmen Flórez-Mansi leads the orchestra’s singers and brass players in seasonal carols, hymns, and sing-alongs, as well as music by Handel, Holst, Rutter, and others. Free admission, no ticket required

Sacred Fire: The Celtic Tradition

8 p.m. Dec. 17 and 18, Cristo Rey Church

8 p.m. Dec. 19-21; 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The Desert Chorale’s contribution to the holiday calendar includes traditional carols, folk songs from Scotland, Ireland, and the Hebrides, and original music by turn-of-the-20th-century Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford and 21st-century composers Michael McGlynn, James MacMillan, and Javier Busto. All are conducted by artistic director Joshua Habermann. Tickets $10-$95; 505-988-2282,

Storm Large: Holiday Ordeal

7:30 p.m. Dec. 19

Lensic Performing Arts Center

The irrepressible Storm Large brings her annual Christmas show to Santa Fe, at which viewers can expect a high-energy evening of torch songs sung with rock ’n’ roll attitude, personal confessions, foul-mouthed banter, and perhaps a few numbers related to the season. Large is known for singing with the genre-busting band/orchestra Pink Martini and for her 2006 turn on the CBS reality show “Rock Star: Supernova.” $35-$55; 505-988-1234,

A Baroque Christmas

6 and 8 p.m. Dec. 19-24

Loretto Chapel

The 12 Santa Fe Pro Musica performances include instrumental music by Telemann, Leclair, and Handel (his organ concerto nicknamed “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale,” after the birdcalls played in its second movement), as well as traditional carols. On alternate evenings, the program features soprano soloists Clara Rottsolk in Handel’s Gloria or Dominique Labelle in Vivaldi’s In furore iustissimae irae (In wrath and most just anger). $20-$90; 505-988-4640,

The Holiday of Your Dreams

7:30 p.m. Dec. 21

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Enjoy the harmonies of the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus at this holiday concert, featuring songs that reflect joy, anticipation, and the spirit of the season. Established in 1981, the NMGMC was one of the country’s first such singing groups. $20-$45; 505-988-1234,

Appalachian Christmas

5 p.m. Dec. 24

Lensic Performing Arts Center

The Santa Fe Symphony is joined onstage by the Mark O’Connor Band, which is primarily a family affair featuring the famous fiddler and his wife Maggie, son Forrest, and daughter-in-law Kate. The evening offers genre-busting renditions of holiday tunes and original material. $25-$92; 10 percent discount for students, military, first responders (phone only); 505-983-1414,

Brandenburg Concertos

10 a.m. Dec. 28 family concert; 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30

St. Francis Auditorium

For many listeners, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are the pinnacle of Baroque-era instrumental music. Highly varied in style and orchestration, the six pieces are examples of the concerto grosso, in which a small group of soloists is contrasted with a larger orchestral group. Pro Musica offers two complete performances as well as an hour-long free family concert on Dec. 28, with advance ticketing. Full concerts are $30-$95; 505-988-4640,

Joe Illick and the New Year’s Eve Orchestra

1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 31

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Performance Santa Fe’s former music director Joe Illick leads the final classical concerts of 2019. There’s a family-oriented open rehearsal at 1 p.m., followed by the concert itself at 5 p.m. It features Mozart’s motet “Exsultate, jubilate” (Exult, rejoice) with soprano Adelaide Boedecker, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony No. 6, and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Augustin Hadelich. Open rehearsal $20; concert $30-$80; 505-988-1234,

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