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Handel's 'Messiah,' Tchaikovsky’s 'Nutcracker' and more festive flair

Welcome to Fanfare — our guide to live classical music in the Philadelphia area, where the holiday concert season is well underway. Subscribe now to get Fanfare delivered to your inbox. But please note: we'll be taking a break next week. Happy Holidays!

Spotlight: Handel's Messiah - Wednesday and Thursday, Verizon Hall

Is it even the holiday season if you don’t hear Handel’s ubiquitous work (that was actually intended for Easter, but still)? The Philadelphia Orchestra performs the work under the baton of Nicholas McGegan — a baroque specialist whose joyful and engaging style inspires orchestras and audiences alike, and a popular conductor who has made over 50 recordings of Handel’s work alone. Featuring a wonderful cast of soloists who know how to convey the story with freshness and authenticity, this is truly a must-see.

Dec. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $36 to $131, tickets and information.

Kimmel Center

The Nutcracker - Wednesday through the end of the month, Academy of Music

A quintessential holiday tradition. Set on Christmas Eve, at the foot of the tree, there are fighting mice, toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes and waltzing flowers. What else could you ask for? Tchaikovsky’s magical score has been enchanting audiences for over a century and this is a chance to see it live with the wonderful dancers of The Philadelphia Ballet.

Dec. 20 through 30 at various times, excluding Dec. 25, Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, $25 to $249, tickets and information.

Philadelphia Girl's Choir

Philadelphia Girls Choir - Wednesday at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, Collingswood, NJ

More seasonal favorites to tempt you from the Philadelphia Girls Choir, a sister organization of the Philadelphia Boys Choir that educates young girls from 6 to 18 years old. Their season opener features holiday classics and new works and should be a delight for all who visit.

Dec. 20 at 7 p.m., Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, NJ, $30-$50, tickets and information.

Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale - Friday, Church of the Holy Trinity

Enjoy a festive concert of holiday favorites old and new from “America’s Ambassadors of Song." The Emmy winning and Grammy nominated boychoir and men’s chorale celebrate the season as they present “Sing Choirs of Angels."

Dec. 22 at 8 p.m., Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut Street, $35, tickets and information.

Plan Ahead: Choral Arts Philadelphia New Year's Eve Celebration - Dec. 31, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

Following in their tradition of holding a concert on New Year’s Eve, this year Choral Arts Philadelphia presents Monteverdi's iconic Vespers of 1610. And you still have time to get to that NYE party to ring in the New Year!

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

The Philadelphia Orchestra - Dec. 31, Verizon Hall

The Philadelphia Orchestra is also jumping in with New Year’s Eve festivities of their own. Their program begins at 7:00 p.m. and offers Broadway classics and orchestral favorites to put you in a celebratory mood.

Dec. 31 at 7 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 South Broad Street, $56 to $156, tickets and information.

As a young violinist, Meg Bragle regularly listened to her local classical music station and loved calling in on Saturday mornings to request pieces, usually by Beethoven. The hosts were always kind and played her requests (often the Fifth Symphony), fostering a genuine love for radio.