DESPITE THE GLOOM of the economy, the holiday season remains bright with seasonal music and rich with the desire to help others. This year it seems especially worthwhile to attend concert and theater performances which also serve as benefits for the Baltimore area's non-profits.
One of the city's most long-standing fund-raising traditions is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops concert sponsored by the Junior League of Baltimore Inc. This year's concerts, scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15 at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, mark the 10th anniversary of the holiday fund-raiser, which was organized to raise money for the various projects of the all-volunteer women's organization.
"It's an opportunity to give the Baltimore community a holiday concert and to give the money back to the community for our projects," says Charlene O'Malley, League ticket chairperson.
This year's program of seasonal music includes the BSO's full orchestra and chorus, conducted by Ed Polochick, as well as the Children's Chorus of Maryland, the Handbell Choir of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and local soloist Alice Mack.
This year's concerts benefit three of the League's Youth At Risk programs: Side by Side Day Care Coalition, Teen Outreach and First Weeks Parenting Program.
Side by Side was established to increase the number of registered family day-care providers in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.
Teen Outreach is a middle school-based program to improve the self-esteem of those children who are deemed at risk for truancy, dropping out of school, teen pregnancy and substance abuse.
First Weeks provides home visits for first-time mothers and teaches parenting skills in order to help prevent parental abuse and neglect. Guidance ranges from helping a new mother find a support group for postpartum depression to helping arrange child-care and transportation for a new mother who must return to work only a few weeks after giving birth. Sinai and Union Memorial hospitals are partners with the League in this program.
The holiday pops concerts are scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 3 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets for Saturday's concert range from $26 to $38. Sunday concert prices range from $19 to $32. Sunday's concert is designed for the family. For details: 783-8000.
Other benefit events that feature musical and theater performances include:
* The Festival of Trees, which benefits the Kennedy-Krieger Institute for Handicapped Children. The festival, with more than 100 decorated 7-foot Christmas trees, features a daily lineup of live holiday entertainment by area marching bands, dance troupes, choirs and choruses, including the Handel Choir. It will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 8 through Dec. 15 at Festival Hall. Admission is $3 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and children younger than 12. The Kennedy-Krieger Institute is dedicated to improving the lives of children with disorders of the brain through research, teaching and comprehensive patient care. Details: 550-9487.
* The Dec. 10 opening night performance of "The Buddy Holly Story," a hit Broadway musical, will benefit The Caring Program, a non-profit organization providing primary health coverage to children of low-income families. Administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, it is financed solely by corporate and private contributions. Tickets are $100, $50 and $35. Details: 998-5959.
* A special evening of music by Time Bandit, Temper Temper, Son of a Gun and Travelin Lite and appearances by local celebrities will benefit the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The show will begin at 7 p.m. at The Corinthian Lounge & Restaurant, 7107 Windsor Mill Road. Tickets are $3. Details: 265-7078.
* The play "A Christmas Carol" and a concert to benefit homeless children is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at the auditorium of the Bryn Mawr School. Performed by The Upper Nodd Players, a troupe of children from Harford County, "A Christmas Carol" is directed by Beth Vaughn and Susan Yaruta of Partners in the Arts Inc. and accompanied by The Welsh Choir and Slim Harrison. A concert of carols, sung by the homeless children of Rutland Transitional Housing Center and Bryn Mawr students, will be conducted by Tom Hall, music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. The event is sponsored by Partners in the Arts Inc. All money will benefit homeless shelters and their arts programs. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Children younger than 6 are admitted free. Details: 557-8054 or 692-2388.
* Two variety shows designed to directly benefit children with AIDS are scheduled at Baltimore night clubs. The events, which feature female impersonators, are scheduled for 10 p.m. Dec. 11 at Numbers, Boston Avenue in Fells Point, and for 10 p.m. Dec. 14 at Zippers, 511 Gorsuch Ave. in Waverly. Tickets for the
Numbers show are $5 a person and are $6 and $4 for the show Zippers. Details: John McWilliams of the People With Aids coalition at 625-1677.
* The Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band will perform a concert to benefit Harvest for the Hungry at Dundalk Community College at 3 p.m. Dec. 15 in the DCC Health and Life Fitness Center. Although the concert is free, everyone who attends is asked to donate non-perishable food items. Details: 285-9850.