Jingle Bells! Montréal Christmas concerts
No city celebrates Christmas quite like Montréal, which welcomes the holiday season with countless musical concerts by everybody from the city’s two major symphony orchestras, to dozens of local choirs. Not to mention Montréal’s yuletide season is not complete without Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s famed adaptation of The Nutcracker, as well as the annual Andy Kim Christmas Concert starring rock and pop legends raising money for charity.
Here are some choice 2017 holiday season events in Montréal:
Quebec entertainers Gregory Charles and Marc Hervieux reunite for their Noël en Noir et Blanc concert at the Bell Centre, November 26 at 7 pm.
Noël, Une Tradion en Chanson features a superb cast of singers including Quebec pop stars Brigitte Boisjoli and Laurence Jalbert, as well as Montréal’s very own internationally-renowned Grammy-winning operatic baritone Gino Quilico. They perform at Théâtre Desjardins on December 3 at 8 pm.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s timeless adaptation of The Nutcracker by Quebec choreographer Fernand Nault returns to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier for the 54th year. This two-act ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and brings together more than 100 dancers, plus the Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal under the baton of Dina Gilbert. If you have never seen it, this famed production is a must. The Nutcracker runs from December 14 to 30 with 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances.
The hugely popular and fun annual Andy Kim Christmas Concert returns to the Corona Theatre on December 16, with proceeds benefitting the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This year Kim – who was born and raised in Montréal, and whose mega-hits include Rock Me Gently and the iconic Sugar, Sugar for The Archies – welcomes musical guests Ron Sexsmith, Hawksley Workman, Platinum Blonde, rock legend Michel Pagliaro and others. Showtime is 8 pm.
Montréal’s renowned Orchestre Metropolitain with guest conductor Christoph Campestrini and pianist Serhiy Salov present the OM’s Winter Tales concert at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on December 12 at 7:30 pm, performing the music of Tchaikovsky (the suite from The Sleeping Beauty), Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 2, used as the soundtrack for Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” in Fantasia 2000), J. Strauss Jr., Josef Strauss and Humperdinck.
Meanwhile, OM Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the Montréal homeboy who will become music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York beginning in 2020 – will conduct Handel’s Messiah with the OM for the first time, with the collaboration of the Chœur Métropolitain and star soloists Carolyn Sampson, Christophe Dumaux, Pascal Charbonneau and Andrew Foster-Williams.
Salle Bourgie over at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts boasts some of the best acoustics in the city, and will present several Christmas-themed concerts this holiday season, notably the hugely popular A Charlie Brown Christmas concert with the Taurey Butler Trio who will perform the classic Peanuts album live, in two one-hour concerts, December 14 at 6 and 8:30 pm, with special guest, Canadian jazz legend Ranee Lee.
Other Christmas shows at Salle Bourgie include Christmas Dreams (Dec. 3), Mediterannean Christmas (Dec. 12), The Nutcracker (Dec. 14), Noël en Nouvelle-France (Dec. 17 at 11 am), Bach Cantatas for Christmas (Dec. 17 at 2 pm), Natale a Napoli (Dec. 20) and Baroque Christmas (Dec. 21).
If you’re a gospel music fan, do not miss Dr. Trevor W. Payne’s farewell concert Trevor’s Farewell Gospel Celebration starring the Montréal Jubilation Gospel Choir which was founded and directed by Payne. This 35th annual concert will feature holiday favorites and inspiring gospel hymns just in time for Christmas, at Théatre Maisonneuve on December 3 at 8 pm.
Over at the McGill Chamber Orchestra, the MCO season continues with their annual production of Handel’s Messiah, a much-loved Montréal holiday tradition, this year at the gorgeous Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul (designed in the Gothic Revival architecture style) on November 30; and their Christmas With Hervieux concert starring Quebec’s Prince of Tenors, Marc Hervieux, on December 20 at Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montréal. Maestro Boris Brott will conduct both concerts.
Bach’s splendid Magnificat and Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël is being performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal for the very first time, in the Bach’s Magnificat concert being presented as part of the Montréal Bach Festival, December 12 and 13 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal, with young musicians from the OSM’s La musique aux enfants joining their adult counterparts in the Toy Symphony.
Magic and mystery mingle the night before Christmas in Le Diable en canot d’écorce: A Christmas Story by Michel Tremblay, a Quebec folk tale revisited by Quebecois literary icon Michel Tremblay in an OSM commission directed by René Richard Cyr, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal from December 19 to 21. Grammy-winning Maestro Kent Nagano will conduct the OSM.
Montreal’s renowned Lyric Theatre Singers under the direction of Bob Bachelor return to Concordia University’s Loyola Chapel to present four performances of Candlelight Christmas 2017 from December 7 to 10, integrating the music of various cultures that celebrate the “season of lights” at this time of year. Expect fresh, unique arrangements of carols, holiday standards and Chanukah favourites, sung in both official languages.
Jingle bells will ring at the Nos plus belles chansons de Noël concert at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal. The 75-minute matinee concert runs from November 28 to December 17. Showtime is 1:30 pm but a brunch-show special is also available with doors opening at 11 am.
The family-friendly musical Décembre presented by the Québec Issime troup tells the story of a small town whose characters come alive beneath a Christmas tree. The crowd-pleasing French-language production features some 30 performers and musicians in its 15th year at Théatre Maisonneuve from December 14 to 30.
Last but not least, since 1980, the annual CBC Christmas Sing-in has been held at the historic Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul, showcasing Christmas carols in spectacular arrangements for choir, organ, brass and percussion, with an audience of over 1,500 singing along. If you can’t get in (free general admission, though tickets must be reserved in advance), you can also see a free live-to-air broadcast of the concert at nearby Salle Bourgie. The 38th annual CBC Christmas Sing-In will be held on December 10 at 3 pm.