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Fanfare: LyricFest, The Crossing, Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective

Welcome to Fanfare — our weekly guide to live classical music in the Philadelphia area. Subscribe now to get the weekly mailing delivered straight to your inbox. To let us know about an event on the horizon, or share other feedback, drop us a line!

Spotlight: LyricFest: Any of Those Decembers – Saturday, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church; Sunday, Academy of Vocal Arts

Let’s start with the words here. The impressionistic, evocative poetry of Philadelphia-based poet Jeanne Minahan (above) has inspired many composers, most notably Jennifer Higdon (their 2008 collaboration, The Singing Rooms, was premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra and has since been recorded by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus), and also younger composers like Michael Djupstrom (whose Oars in Water was commissioned by LyricFest a few years back) and Rene Orth (Weave Me a Name, now making news as part of soprano Emily Albrink’s Classical Billboard chart-topping “Force of Nature” album). For this holiday-season program, LyricFest commissioned the precocious and multi-talented young composer Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg to write a new “winter cantata” based on Minahan’s poems. Centered on childhood memories, holiday reunions, and nature in winter, Any of Those Decembers promises an absorbing afternoon. And if LyricFest’s unerring track record for matching vocalists to musical material is any indication, the four soloists are likely to impress. Soprano Rebecca Myers, mezzo-soprano Devony Smith, tenor Stephen Ng, and baritone Steven Eddy are joined by the Daedalus Quartet, flutist Ráyo Furuta, and pianist Laura Ward.

Dec. 16 at 3 p.m., Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA, $30; Dec. 17 at 3:00 p.m, The Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, $30, tickets and information.

Courtesy of Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective – Wednesday, Perelman Theater

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective is an exciting chamber ensemble with footholds in both Philadelphia — where several of its members are Curtis Institute alumni — and London, where the group is associated with Wigmore Hall, the famed recital venue. (Be sure to watch this in-studio performance by two of its members, Elena Urioste and Tom Poster.) Their beautifully played recordings for the Chandos label highlight chamber music by neglected composers in illuminating juxtapositions with their more famous counterparts. So does their Philadelphia Chamber Music Society program: Florence Price’s rarely played Piano Quintet in a minor and Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Sextet in D major anchor the evening, with George Walker’s pensive Lyric for Strings and a new work by Gabriella Smith.

Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., Perelman Theater, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $30, tickets and information.

Courtesy of The Crossing

The Crossing at Christmas – Friday, Iron Gate Theatre; Sunday, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill

’Tis the season for comforting concerts of carols, and if that’s your holiday choral craving, you’ll have many options this month. But that’s not what anyone expects from the Crossing, Philadelphia’s magnificently skilled and expressive choir specializing in new music. In their annual Christmas offering, the group premieres poor hymnal by the searching and innovative Pulitzer Prize-winning David Lang, one of their frequent collaborators. Inspired by the tradition of hymn-singing, in which congregations voice religious ideals, Lang’s new work poses an unsettling question: whether our hymns reflect our responsibility to care for and support one another.

Dec. 15 at 6 and 8:30 p.m., Iron Gate Theatre, 3700 Chestnut Street, $42, tickets and information; Dec. 17 at 5 p.m., Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, $35, tickets and information.

Plan Ahead: Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 — New Year’s Eve, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

Looking for an inspiring prelude to your New Year’s Eve round of parties and merrymaking? Spend a couple of hours with the transcendent 1610 Vespers of Claudio Monteverdi, courtesy of Choral Arts Philadelphia and the Bach Collegium, and you’re likely to emerge renewed and invigorated. The dazzling variety of vocal textures in this Vespers offers audiences an unforgettable journey. And since the concert begins soon after sunset, you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate in more usual ways afterward if you wish.

Dec. 31 at 5 p.m., Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 19 South 38th Street, $40, students $15, premium $50; tickets and information.

Melinda has worked in radio for decades, hosting and producing classical music and arts news. An award-winning broadcaster, she has created and hosted classical music programs and reported for NPR, WQXR—New York, WHYY–Philadelphia, and American Public Media. WRTI listeners may remember her years hosting classical music for WFLN and WHYY.