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Five Wonderful Musical Experiences to Share This Christmas

color photo of multicolored Christmas lights in a wad
Anthony Quintano
Creative Commons/Flickr
Make your holidays brighter by sharing musical experiences

We've all heard the wisdom about the holiday season – It’s the season for giving, not getting. Celebrate the things that matter most. Be grateful for the people in your life and the good things that come your way. And above all, carry the spirit of the holidays with you all year long.

Classical music is one of the good things in life, one of the things for which I, for one, am ever grateful. It can be a beautiful thing to spend some time alone enjoying great music and maybe a nice spot of food. But – more wisdom – the best things in life are shared with others. And if you’ve ever sung in a choir or played in a band or orchestra, then you know that music is definitely meant to be shared,

With so many great musical experiences out there to enjoy, it’s actually pretty easy – and a lot of fun – to carry the spirit of the holidays with you year-round by finding musical experiences to share with others during the holidays and beyond.

In the spirit of giving, I offer a few suggestions for experiences you can share with the classical music lover in your life. You can share all of these experiences in central Ohio, and some you can share anywhere and at almost any time.

May you share some beautiful musical moments, and may your holidays be bright – all the year through.

  • Take your favorite classical music lover to a Messiah sing-along – and actually sing along. There’s a reason why Messiah sing-alongs have become a holiday tradition: We all get to join in and experience Handel’s timeless music from the inside out. And the experience of singing the Halleluia chorus with hundreds of others is nothing short of joyous. There are a number of Messiah sing-alongs in central Ohio, so set aside your air guitar, grab a classical music lover or three and sing!
  • Take music lessons together. Okay, so maybe the piano lessons your mother made you take didn’t get you to Carnegie Hall. Ever wondered what piano lessons – or guitar lessons, or singing lessons, or cello lessons – would be like now? Stop wondering and act – and take a friend with you. Give a friend – and yourself – the gift of music lessons. It’s something else you’ll be able to talk about, and you can practice together. And who knows? You might even be able to share with others what you’ve learned by giving a performance once in a while. If you need a little incentive, read my blog post about former New York Times reporter Ari Goldman’s memoir The Late Starters Orchestra, on challenging himself to learn to play the cello before his fiftieth birthday. It’s a touching story of one man’s love affair with music. And while you’re signing up for music lessons, give your loved one a copy of The Late Starters Orchestra, too.
  • Listen to beautiful classical Christmas music while you’re decking the halls. Each year, when it comes time to decorate the house for the holidays, we bring the ornaments and throw pillows down from the attic, break out the eggnog and put on Our Heart’s Joy; a recording made by Chanticleer in the ensemble’s heyday and featuring utterly gorgeous performances of Christmas music from plainchant through the twentieth century. The recording also features electrifying performances of some of Joseph Jennings’ arrangements of Christmas-themed spirituals. A few other recommendations: Cantus’ recording Comfort and Joy brings you two volumes’ worth of beautiful performances of Christmas classics, and Noels and Carols from the Olde World and Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers show the Cleveland-based baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire at its finest for the season. For an extra treat, drop one or all of these great CDs into that special someone's Christmas stocking. And you can also hear plenty of beautiful holiday music on central Ohio's only classical music radio station, Classical 101.
  • Take a friend to one of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD opera transmissions. Through the wonders of technology, you can watch live performances of the Metropolitan Opera in the comfort of your own movie theater seat in your own locale. The fabulous camera-work for each transmission gives you a view of the action that’s arguably even better than what you’d experience sitting in the front row at the Met. Each transmission also includes fascinating intermission features that take you back stage at the Met and introduce you to the world-class singers, designers, directors and technicians who make each performance happen. Find out why the Met’s HD transmission have taken the world by storm. Find the Live in HD transmission schedule here.
  • Take a fellow music-lover to Capital University’s annual Christmas Festival. Each year in early December Capital University professor of choral music Lynda Hasseler sculpts all of the university’s choirs into a rich and beautiful holiday offering, complete with elegant lighting, seamless stage transitions and great music beautifully performed.  The event has been going so strong for so long that it has become a notoriously hot ticket. Keep your ear to the ground to learn when tickets for the 2016 Christmas Festival go on sale.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.