The Vienna Boys Choir, above, returns to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on December 12, and the New Jersey Chamber Singers, below make their annual Yuletide stop at Red Bank’s United Methodist Church Friday.
Classic Christmas carols, cantatas and the most cherished of Yuletide ballets fill up the calendar this time of year. Read on for details on traditional holiday offerings from the Tower Hill Choir, the Company of Dance Arts, and a musical organization that traces its ancestry back more than 600 years.
The Yuletide kicks off Friday, when the borough-based New Jersey Chamber Singers return to Red Bank’s United Methodist Church at 247 Broad Street for the 2016 edition of an annual seasonal presentation.
Described as “a new dimension to your Christmas experience… cloaked in mystery,” A Ceremony of Carols offers a harp-and-voice program of works inspired by poets of yore and adapted by modern American composers. Harpist Karen Hill Miske joins the vocal ensemble under the direction of Reid Masters for performances of the haunting title piece by Benjamin Britten, based on a collection of medieval verse, and Frank Ferko’s “A Festival of Carols,” a 2002 work based on texts by 19th century American authors.
Take it here to reserve tickets to the 8 p.m. concert ($5 – $20).
There are December traditions here in Red Bank — and then there are traditions of the kind that families on the Greater Green have grown up with.
Beginning with a pair of special school shows Thursday and Friday, and continuing through the weekend with four public performances Saturday and Sunday, the Count Basie Theatre welcomes back Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, presented for a 31st consecutive year by the Company of Dance Arts.
Choreographed by Peter Anastos — and mixing guest soloists from New York dance companies with local professionals and the young students of the CoDA company — the colorfully costumed production remains a direct link to a simpler small town era, in addition to drawing multi-generational audiences to its performances.
Now based in Tinton Falls, the company, under founder Jennifer James Church and artistic directors Shayne and Nicholas Mishoe, has seen a panoramic parade of Claras, Nutcracker Princes, Sugarplum Fairies, Mice and more dance across the stage of the venerable Monmouth Street venue over the past three decades — in some cases, watching as those diminutive mice mature and graduate to some of the featured roles in the perennial Yuletide staple.
Tickets to any of the four public performances of The Nutcracker (1 pm and 5 pm on both December 10 and 11) are priced at $20 – $40, and can be reserved here.
Up at Tower Hill’s First Presbyterian Church — a setting that much closer to heaven — the heavenly voices of the Tower Hill Choir open the sanctuary doors Sunday for the annual Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Presented under the title Fantasia: A Concert of Joy, and conducted by the church music director Nicole Cochran, the free public-welcome performance spotlights Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols,” in addition to selections from Handel’s “Messiah” and arrangements of such seasonal favorites as “The Holly and the Ivy” (there’s an interactive element as well, with attendees invited to join the choir in some Christmas carols).
While there’s no charge for admission, a free-will offering will be taken to offset concert series expenses. For additional information on this and other events in the Tower Hill Concert Series, call (732)747-1348.
Call it the original boy band — an assembly of gifted young vocalists first convened during the year 1498, in the cathedrals of western Europe’s capital of music.
While it’s safe to presume that those charter members have since aged out of their alto and soprano voices, the Vienna Boys Choir continues to represent the gold standard in internationally renowned youth choral organizations, a position maintained for an unbroken run of more than six centuries. And with over 100 current members and four touring companies, the choir can effectively be in more than one place at a time.
So while continuing its traditional Sunday Mass at Vienna’s Imperial Chapel, the boys head to the Count Basie Theatre for an encore appearance Monday night, December 12. Scheduled for 8 p.m., it’s a “Christmas in Vienna” program that mixes traditional Austrian folk songs, classical cantatas, sacred carols and selections from the popular Christmas songbook, with tickets ($25 – $45) available here.
Keep it tuned to redbankgreen for updates on more aural treats for aficionados of vocal music, including the annual Christmas concerts by the Shrewsbury Chorale and Monmouth Civic Chorus, each slated for Sunday, December 18.