CLEVELAND, Ohio - Never mind those Christmas music radio stations. In Cleveland, the real and best Christmas music must be experienced live.
We've got the resources for it, certainly, what with the Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo's Fire, and a host of professional choirs and others ensembles.
Ditto for dance. Don't just pop in a DVD to relive the Snow Scene or Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. Let them enchant you in person. Patronize one of the many troupes in Northeast Ohio pouring all its time and talent into a "Nutcracker" you and the family will never forget.
Let Cleveland's cultural community have a crack at making this the most wonderful time of your year. A curated list of offerings is below.
In lieu of Handel's "Messiah," Apollo's Fire this year presents "Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain," a new holiday program conceived by director Jeannette Sorrell. Like its summertime counterpart, the new program is a blend of classical and folk music. It employs Irish fiddling and dancing, a chorus and children's voices, and medieval forms and instruments to simulate an Irish immigrant holiday in Appalachia. Take note of a wide variety of special events and ticketing incentives surrounding the program.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 (St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Akron); 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 (St. Noel Church, Willoughby Hills); 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 (Cleveland Museum of Art); 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 (First Baptist Church, Shaker Heights); and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 (St. Raphael Catholic Church, Bay Village). $26-$77; apollosfire.org or 216-320-0012.
CITY BALLET OF CLEVELAND
An excellent option for your "Nutcracker" fix this season is City Ballet of Cleveland, a company of young dancers in training at Cleveland City Dance. They're putting their own spin on the holiday classic with "Uniquely Cleveland Nutcracker," a fresh, Cleveland-centric adaptation featuring professional dancers from Cleveland's own Verb Ballets in the lead roles. Here's a sneak peek: In lieu of nutcracker soldiers, this show calls up the 1920s Cleveland Indians.
7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3; Breen Center for the Performing Arts, 2008 West 30th St., Cleveland.
$10-$35; cityballetofcleveland.org or 216-848-9088.
CityMusic Cleveland's December program may not scream "Christmas," but it's a still a concert not to be missed during the holidays. You can't beat the price, either; All CityMusic concerts are free. Stefan Willich conducts a charming and intimate program consisting of Schubert's Symphony No. 3, Mozart's evergreen Sinfonia Concertante (with violinist Miho Hashizume and violist Jonathan Bagg), and Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," with soprano Chabrelle Williams.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6 (St. Jerome Church, Cleveland); 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 (Cuyahoga County Library, Parma); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 (Christ Episcopal Church, Shaker Heights); 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 (Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus, Cleveland); and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 (St. Noel Church, Willoughby).
Free; citymusiccleveland.org or 216-321-8273.
For the first time in many years, Playhouse Square this season will host a "Nutcracker" production by a Cleveland-based company. Specifically, the new Cleveland Ballet. Now a resident company at Playhouse Square, the ballet led by Gladisa Guadalupe presents an original "Nutcracker" Suite, featuring the company's adult and youth troupes, singers, children from regional dance schools, and new costume, set, and lighting designs.
11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17; Hanna Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland. $25-$45. playhousesquare.org or 216-241-6000.
It's impossible to go wrong with the Cleveland Orchestra Christmas Concerts. One of the most varied holiday shows in town, the family-friendly program truly contains something for everyone. Former assistant conductor Brett Mitchell returns to a bedecked Severance Hall this year to lead the orchestra and a large slate of vocalists in a festive mix of beloved carols and lesser-known treats. Be prepared, too, to sing along, and to hear the news from the North Pole, courtesy of you-know-who.
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 14-17; Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 21-23; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17, and Sunday, Dec. 23. Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
$47-$117; clevelandorchestra.com or 216-231-1111.
Think of the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra's December program as a classical concert with a holiday twist. Music director Victor Liva conducts a lighthearted program of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17, with pianist Donna Lee. This being Christmastime, he'll then lead the orchestra in a selection of traditional holiday music.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 (First Church Congregational, Painesville); and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 (Cuyahoga Community College, Parma).
Music lovers have two options with the Cleveland Pops this season. First up is "A Magical Musical Christmas," an evening of carols and other holiday music, including audience singalongs, under the baton of pops master Carl Topilow. A month later, they then can ring in the new year with a concert and evening-long celebration called "Legends of Rock and Roll," featuring vocalist Connor Bogart O'Brien in songs by the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.
2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26 (Connor Palace, Playhouse Square); and 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31 (Severance Hall).
Tickets, $14-$39 (Nov.26); $33-$117 (Dec. 31). clevelandpops.com or 216-765-7677.
The ninth edition of Quire Cleveland's annual holiday program is more diverse than ever. In addition to the usual wide variety of old carols and other Christmas music, including contemporary classics, the group will celebrate the Jewish holiday with 16th-century Hanukkah melodies and a custom arrangement of Tom Lehrer's "Hanukkah in Santa Monica."
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15 (Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland); 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 (St. Christopher Church, Rocky River); and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17 (Historic St. Peter Church, Cleveland).
$5-$30. quirecleveland.org or 216-223-8854.
SINGERS' CLUB OF CLEVELAND
After 125 years in business, the Singers' Club of Cleveland knows a thing or two about staging an effective Christmas concert. This year, the choir returns to its roots with "An Olde Fashioned Christmas," a revue of modern holiday classics and traditional Christmas carols. Just what you want. Nothing you don't. Artistic director Natalie Mallis conducts.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; Breen Center for the Performing Arts, 2008 West 30th St., Cleveland.
$10-$20; singersclub.org or 216-556-4405....Read more