Many musical organizations understandably are focusing on the approaching holidays, but that doesn't mean you have to confine yourself to Handel and assorted carols - not that there's anything wrong with that.
Among noteworthy examples of non-seasonal fare this week is a chamber concert featuring Janos Starker, one of the world's leading cellists for more than 40 years. He will be joined by William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and former first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet; and pianist Shigeo Neriki, a frequent collaborator with orchestras and chamber ensembles around the globe.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Today section listed wrong dates for last night's "Christmas with Choral Arts" at the Basilica of the Assumption and for a televised version of the performance. The program will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 and 9 a.m. Dec. 25 on WMAR, Channel 2. The Sun regrets the errors.
There are strong ties among the three men. Starker has been on the faculty of Indiana University since 1958. He befriended Preucil when the violinist studied there; Preucil married Starker's daughter. Meanwhile, Starker took notice of Neriki's talents as soon as the Japanese-born pianist came to Indiana University to study in the 1970s; Neriki became a frequent accompanist for the cellist and eventually joined the music faculty of Indiana University.
Although Starker and son-in-law Preucil (an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland) often make music in private, they have not done much public performing. For this program, they will collaborate with Neriki on Schubert's exquisite B-flat major Trio. There also will be separate works for each string player - Starker and Neriki will play Strauss' F major Sonata, Preucil and Neriki will play Brahms' A major Sonata.
The concert is at 8 p.m. Thursday at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Stadium Drive and University Boulevard, College Park. Tickets cost $20 to $30, with discounts for students and seniors. Call 301-405-2787.
Meanwhile, the Peabody Wind Ensemble is offering a typically eclectic mix of music. In addition to works by Sergei Prokofiev and Gustav Holst, Harlan Parker will conduct ... and the mountains rising nowhere by American composer Joseph Schwantner, Sinfonietta No. 2 by American composer Philip Sparke and Rhapsody for bass trombone and winds by Hungarian composer Frigyes Hidas. This concert is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.
Also coming up at Peabody is a program featuring two masterworks of the choral repertoire, Bach's Magnificat and Poulenc's Gloria, as well as Ravel's orchestral showpiece La Valse. Edward Polochick will conduct the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Singers and Concert Singers, along with the Peabody Hopkins Chorus.
The performance is at 8 p.m. Friday. Both concerts will be at Friedberg Hall, 1 E. Mount Vernon Place. Tickets cost $16, with discounts for students and seniors. Call 410-659-8100, Ext. 2.
And getting back to all that seasonal music:
There's one more chance to catch the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra's annual Candlelight Holiday Concert, which had its first performance on Sunday. The repeat will be at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St.
The theme of this year's program, conducted by Anne Harrigan, is "A Dickens Christmas." Tim Marrone from the Baltimore School of the Arts will narrate a version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, featuring music by Carl Davis. Works by Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams and two contemporary composers - American John Harbison and Irishman Patrick Cassidy - also are on the program.
Tickets cost $25, with discounts for children, students and seniors. Call 410-308-0402.
Second Presbyterian Church also is the site of a holiday program by the noted Baltimore Consort, featuring vocalist Custer LaRue and an ensemble of original instruments. This performance is at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets cost $10 to $20. Call 410-235-6469.
It wouldn't be the Christmas season without Handel's Messiah (even if he did write it for the Lent/Easter period).
Among those performing the oratorio is the Handel Choir of Baltimore, as it has done for 68 years. Conducted by T. Herbert Dimmock, the chorus will offer an abbreviated version of the work at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at St. Casimir Church, 2736 O'Donnell St., and Dec. 21 at Amoss Performing Arts Center, 410 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air; 3 p.m. at Old St. Paul's Church, North Charles and Saratoga streets.
The choir will offer a complete performance of Messiah at 3 p.m. Dec. 23 at Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.
Tickets cost $14 to $25. Call 410-366-6544.
A separate program, "Christmas with the Handel Choir," will be presented at 4 p.m. Sunday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St. Tickets cost $14 to $25; free for children younger than 12 accompanied by two adults. Call 410-366-6544.
Another Messiah also merits attention, this one performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Edward Polochick, whose highly individualistic interpretation has made it an annual draw. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 22 at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Tickets cost $22 to $42. Call 410-783-8000.
Although the Baltimore Choral Arts Society's annual crowd-pleaser, "Christmas with Choral Arts," is sold out tomorrow night at the Basilica of the Assumption, you'll be able to catch it later on television. Conducted by Tom Hall, the program offers seasonal classics by Mozart, Brahms, Britten and others; two guest ensembles, the Peabody Children's Chorus and the Concert Choir of City College High School, are participating.
The broadcasts are scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 23 and 9 a.m. Dec. 25 on WMAR, Channel 2.
Finally, the Choral Arts Society's "Christmas with Kids Family Concert" will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson. Tickets costs $10. Call 410-523-7070.