Winter Wonderland

This December, hear everything from secular symphonies to sing-along Christmas carols

UO Gospel Choir performs a holiday concert Dec. 7 at Beall Concert Hall
UO Gospel Choir performs a holiday concert Dec. 7 at Beall Concert Hall

’Tis the season and all, but before we get to the holiday shows, let’s note the secular sounds. The Dec. 4 Eugene Symphony concert at the Hult Center features yet another offering of classical music’s greatest hits — Elgar’s 115-year-old Enigma Variations, Mendelssohn’s 170-year-old Violin Concerto (with English violinist Chloë Hanslip) and Smetana’s 140-year-old The Moldau, perhaps in hope that an hour and a half of overfamiliar, centuries-old musical comfort food will revive the patrons who fainted from the shock of hearing 10 token minutes of contemporary music. Still, it’s a treat to hear the orchestra play even a little current music; presumably this orchestral version of three dances from the powerful 1995 opera Powder Her Face — by Thomas Adès, whom many already consider Britain’s greatest living classical composer — will omit any staging of its notorious blow-job scene…

Also on Dec. 4, the University of Oregon’s Collegium Musicum concert at Collier House includes Renaissance English and Italian music performed the way they might have been heard nearly half a millennium ago.

The Monday, Dec. 8, Chamber Music Amici performance at Springfield’s Wildish Community Theater features some of the city’s top musicians in a Mozart piano quartet and Boccherini’s famous “Fandango” guitar quintet, joined by excellent Portland guitarist Scott Kritzer and those clacky castanets. Eugene Springfield Youth Orchestras play music from Holst’s ever-popular 1917 The Planets, Sibelius’ 1902 Symphony No. 2 and 19th-century composer Ferdinand David’s Trombone Concertino 7:30 pm, Dec. 8-9, at South Eugene High School.

On Saturday, Dec. 6, at a house concert (755 River Rd.), the fine Portland flutist Hanz Araki leads his band featuring guitarist Cary Novotny in Celtic music that found its way from its Irish homeland to England, Scotland, Wales, America and New Zealand; reserve tickets at And next Wednesday, Dec. 10, fiddling Finnish cousins Arto and Antti Järvelä, who hail from a centuries-long line of Baltic musicians, will bring traditional and original dance music and ceremonial tunes for fiddle and guitar to the WOW Hall.

Holiday sounds take over Dec. 7 for the 40th Annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Hult Center’s Silva Hall, when the Eugene Concert Choir and Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble (clad in Renaissance finery) team up with Shedd regular Bill Hulings, as well as Darline Jackson, the South Eugene High School Concert Choir, the Oregon Tuba Ensemble and a cappella stars Evynne and Peter Hollens, Rezonate and Synergy. But the star is Eugene’s most famous musician, Mason “Classical Gas” Williams, who along with that still-amazing hit for film 3,000 Years of Art, will remind us of his Smothers Brothers humor in tunes like “Mistletoe Mustache,” a doo-wop version of “White Christmas” and some new material. Be prepared to carol along.

Hear Advent and Christmas music on the First Methodist Church organ Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 when Yuka Ito and Barbara Baird respectively play music by Bach, French organ composers and rarer tunes by John Jacob Niles and Max Reger. This week also brings the ever-popular University of Oregon Holiday Choral (Dec. 6) and Gospel (Dec. 7) concerts at Beall Concert Hall.

Catch the most traditional (or at least ancient) holiday music in concert Saturday, Dec. 13, at Central Lutheran Church when Vox Resonat sings medieval Christmas and Epiphany music, including English carols, Italian laude, Aquitanian hymns, Spanish villancicos and international motets, accompanied by harpist Laura Zaerr.

Next, explore less-familiar (hereabouts anyway) holiday music at The Shedd Dec. 10 when Jóse Hernàndez and his 13-member Sol De México celebrate Mexico’s Christmas with seasonal mariachi music from Veracruz, Yucatan and Jalisco. See the 7th annual Christmas at The Shedd show Dec. 11 and 14 with the Emerald City Jazz Kings Christmas and featuring Shirley Andress, Siri Vik, Bob Cross and more performing wintry tunes and jazzed-up carols.