‘Tis the Season for Classical Music

Zilker Tree (Photo: City of Austin)

December is always a time when many family traditions get passed on to another generation and new traditions get established. Classical music, an art form abounding with traditions, seems to enjoy a particular sparkle during the holiday season.

Austin has its own holiday traditions. Maybe you attended Ballet Austin’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker 50 years ago? Or perhaps you’ve been singing along with Chorus Austin and fellow Austinites in Handel’s Messiah for the past 22 years?

If you don’t have a family tradition yet, this would be a fine year to start one. You can treat yourself and introduce your kids to the power of a live musical performance. There’s nothing like the joy of music during this time of year.

So where to take them? Not to worry, we’ve got it covered. This holiday season, there’s something to enjoy for everyone.

Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting

On Sunday, December 2, the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Barton Hills Choir will be on hand to kick off the Zilker Holiday Tree lighting ceremony, ringing in Austin’s holiday season!

Choral Music

If anything tells you it’s the holiday season, it’s choral music. And there’s an abundance to be enjoyed.

It all starts with the Butler School of Music combined choirs in a holiday concert on Monday, December 3. Two days later, on December 5, The Austin Symphony partners with Chorus Austin once again for its Christmas tradition, Handel’s Messiah, at the Riverbend Centre.

Would you rather sing the Messiah yourself? You can do that with Chorus Austin’s “Sing-it-Yourself” Messiah on Saturday, December 8. This is already the 23rd iteration of the annual audience favorite. Isn’t there some research about singing together and happiness?

Can’t get enough of the Messiah? Austin’s newest vocal group ensemble viii presents the complete work with Houston’s period orchestra Mercury on December 21 and 22.

Conspirare goes all out this holiday season. No less than five special holiday concerts are on the calendar December 8 through 10, as well as its free community sing-along event Big Sing on December 18. And if that’s not enough, in between those dates the Conspirare Youth Choirs present two holiday concerts on December 14 and 15.

Chorus Austin closes out the choral cornucopia with its annual “On A Winter’s Eve” holiday concert on December 22.

Symphony and Chamber Music

Santa Claus will be visiting The Austin Symphony at Riverbend Centre on December 11 in a very special, and did we mention free, holiday concert for the whole family.

Austin’s famed music joint Antone’s plays host to Austin Chamber Music Center’s Charlie Brown Christmas on December 9. The concert features the jazzy holiday music of Vince Guaraldi, in a program for Peanuts fans young and old.

Or maybe you want a slightly more adult holiday experience, complete with BYOB, and some more eclectic musical choices? Then REVEL’s annual holiday concert is just the thing for you on December 8 and 9.

A week later, the Texas Early Music Project takes you on a European tour of holiday music from Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the British Isles.  You’ll have three opportunities to catch them: December 14, 15 and 16.

That same weekend, the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble presents two free holiday concerts on Friday and Saturday.

And what would the holidays be without a little bit of organ music? The Butler School of Music presents a special holiday version of its Great Organ Series on Friday, December 14.


Austin’s holiday season wouldn’t be the same without Ballet Austin’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker. And this year, they’ll be celebrating its golden anniversary. In 1962 Ballet Austin was the first company in Texas to perform the full-length version of the ballet, and 50 years later it is perhaps Austin’s best holiday tradition (going back even further than The Trail of Lights!)

There are 13(!) performances of The Nutcracker from December 8 through 23. Pick the matinee at 2 p.m. or the evening performance at 7:30 p.m.


‘Tis indeed the season for classical music… check out the entire December calendar!

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