There are few holiday pleasures more sublime than taking in the sounds of the season at Severance Hall. The Cleveland Orchestra's Christmas concerts, with guest choruses and sing-alongs, start on Dec. 14 and run through Dec. 23. On the mornings of Dec. 14 & 15, a Christmas Brass quintet offers a selection of family favorites. There's a contemporary touch in the December mix as well, with Béla Fleck joining the orchestra for his Banjo Concerto on Dec. 6, 7 & 8. And a special treat for film fans — a screening of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times with live musical accompaniment by the orchestra on Dec. 11. For a wild holiday fling, catch Pink Martini's Christmas cabaret show on Dec. 18 or 19.
11001 Euclid Ave., clevelandorchestra.com
Here's a chance to see a Russian version of The Nutcracker, performed by one of that country's finest dance ensembles. Among the highlights: choreography in which two dancers become one soaring bird; a Christmas tree that grows to five stories tall; giant puppets; and a 40-member troupe led by principal dancer Olga Kifyak, who is making her North American debut. There will be two performances at Music Hall on Dec. 1. For more on the production and the company, check the website below.
A spectacular production is playing at the State Theater on Playhouse Square this year, featuring dancers from the Joffrey Ballet and music by the Cleveland Orchestra. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission. Get your tickets early, as there are only five performances, running Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, and they will likely sell out. For more information and tickets, check the website below.
1519 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, playhousesquare.org
You need not be a Baroque music fan to enjoy the two holiday programs this outstanding early music ensemble has planned. "Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas," an accessible compendium of Gregorian chants, medieval carols, and Gaelic folk dances, sold out six performances last year. Along with the usual period instruments, it features a dulcimer, Celtic harp, and bagpipes. And if your holidays are not complete with a performance of Handel's Messiah, you will have four opportunities to hear it at churches in Shaker Heights, Rocky River, and Akron. For a complete performance schedule, check the website.
Chamber Music Festival
Already underway at the Cleveland Institute of Music, this 10-day fest features a variety of ensembles playing a wide range of the classical repertoire. Most of the performers are CIM students and faculty, though the schedule also incorporates an appearance by the Juilliard String Quartet at Plymouth Congregational Church in Shaker Heights. For more information and a complete schedule, check the school website.
11021 East Blvd., Cleveland, cim.edu
As part of the CircleFest celebration, a fine collection of choirs will be singing holiday favorites at the Church of the Covenant on Sunday, Dec. 2. From 4 – 6 p.m., you can hear the Case Concert Choir and University Singers, with music provided by the Camerata Chamber Orchestra and Case/University Circle Symphony Orchestra, all for free.
11205 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Menorah Rock! Hanukkah Celebration
Legacy Village is holding its annual holiday celebration on Sunday, Dec. 2 from 5 – 7 p.m. Located inside the storefront on Main Street, Menorah Rock! features live music, snacks, holiday crafts, games, face-painting, and other activities sponsored by the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. Best of all, it's free. For more information, call the number below.
25001 Cedar Rd., Lyndhurst, 216-382-3871
Holiday Music and Lights at Lake View Cemetery
Relax in atmospheric Wade Chapel for a late afternoon of merry music, bright candles, and historic scenery. It starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Seating is limited and reservations are suggested. Call the number below.
12316 Euclid Ave., 216-421-2665
A Christmas Cabaret
The Musical Theater Project is reprising its lively presentation of holiday chestnuts, which sold out last year. Along with familiar carols, the ensemble sings gems from the American songbook like Irving Berlin's "Santa Claus" ("You'd better be good, like a good baby should!"). This year there are no less than eight opportunities to catch the performance: four shows at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights, on Dec. 16, 17, 18 & 19; three at the Stocker Arts Center in Elyria, on Dec. 14 and twice on Dec. 15; and one at South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls, which includes a dinner package option. For starting times and ticket information, check the website below.
Burning River Brass
A Cleveland favorite, this 12-piece ensemble has been lighting up audiences and concert halls since making its debut in Tremont in 1996. The group returns to the neighborhood for this year's holiday concert, at Pilgrim Church on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7.
2592 West 14th St., Cleveland, artconcerts.com
This premier choral ensemble, which specializes in medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, will be performing a program of holiday music from both the Old and New Worlds on Dec. 21, 22 & 23. And what better setting for such glorious music than Trinity Cathedral? For starting times and ticket information, check the website below.
The Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival
A 50-year tradition in Cleveland, this sumptuous re-creation of an Elizabethan Christmas appeals to all the senses with elaborate costumes, period music, the smell of frankincense, the taste of fresh-baked mince pie and ham, and the unparalleled atmosphere of Trinity Cathedral. There will be two performances on Saturday, Dec. 29, with the afternoon performance signed for the deaf. For more information, check the website below.