The Best Classical Music & Opera in Seattle: Winter 2017/2018

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance for December 6, 2017-March 18, 2018
December 6, 2017
Don't miss the Seattle Opera's Beatrice & Benedict, opening February 24. (Philip Newton)

Find a complete list of classical music and opera in Seattle this winter on our Things To Do calendar, or check out the rest of our critics' picks from Seattle Art and Performance.

Get all this and more on the free Stranger Things To Do mobile app—available now on the App Store and Google Play.

Dec 9

Buon Natale: An Italian Christmas

Celebrate Christmas the Italian way with Buon Natale, a holiday tradition of the Seattle Choral Company that lays out centuries of musical contributions made by Italians and Italian Americans. The concert will include Renaissance motets by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Luca Marenzio, opera masterworks by composers Giuseppe Verdi and Gioacchino Rossini, opera excerpts by Italian Americans Gian Carlo Menotti and Dominick Argento, and popular Italian Christmas carols.

St. Mark's Cathedral

Cornish Presents: Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble—Elizabeth Pearse (soprano), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo soprano), Amanda DeBoer Bartlett (soprano), and Carrie Henneman Shaw (soprano)—weave strangely beautiful webs of song out of their incomparably pliable vocal cords. Their intricate chamber-group interplay sounds at once ancient and avant-garde, and it abounds with surprising dynamics. QCVE could conceivably appeal to fans of 20th-century radical singers like Joan La Barbara and Urszula Dudziak. The group recently won a Chamber Music America award to commission a song cycle by LJ White, who has worked with Bang on a Can All-Stars and Alarm Will Sound, among others. DS

PONCHO Concert Hall

Handel's Messiah

For two concerts each year, the Northwest Chorale send all their show proceeds to Northwest Harvest to feed those in need. This concert will focus on choral performances of Handel's classic biblical work Messiah.

Edmonds United Methodist Church

Nowell Sing We

The Advent performance of the Medieval Women's Choir's 27th season will be Nowell Sing We, a winter concert that continues their tradition of illuminating the season with music of religious antiquity.

St. James Cathedral

Dec 10

Christmas with Seattle Pro Musica

Seattle Pro Musica will present their annual family holiday concert with an evening full of Christmas touches like traditional carols, holiday stories, and an audience sing-along.

University Unitarian Church

Dec 15–17

Handel's Messiah

Experience the true power of Handel's classic as you take in this towering (and seasonally ubiquitous) work performed by our very own internationally renowned Symphony.

Benaroya Hall

Dec 16

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Lindsey Stirling

Classical violinist Lindsey Stirling, 31, is trying to cross over to the pop and EDM worlds. It's a bit of an awkward fit, fusing virtuosic strings redolent of 19th-century Europe with the distorted bass drops and massive, splashy beats of this decade's brostep. But one must give credit to Stirling for attempting such an unlikely commingling of musical elements. Against the odds, her bold stab at making stuffy classical music shake its ass has garnered Stirling a large following. This show is part of her Warmer in Winter Christmas Tour. DS

Paramount Theatre

Dec 22

Geoffrey Castle's 10th Annual Celtic Christmas Celebration

Rock and folk violinist Geoffrey Castle is now in his 10th year of presenting his annual Celtic Christmas Celebration. Joining him this year will be Seattle operatic duo Pamela and Veronica Nim, the Seattle Irish Dance Company, legendary drummer Allan White, and local vocalist and guitarist Dan Connolly.

Kirkland Performance Center

Dec 26

The Brian Setzer Orchestra's 14th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour

Reasonable expectations: There shall be rock! There shall be roll with the rock! There shall be rock with the roll! There shall be swing! There shall be sing with the swing! Folks will be swing dancing in the aisles! Possibly even in the lobby! There shall be a horn section! There shall be jumping, and jiving, to boot! The set shall consist of mostly but not entirely Christmas songs! Brian Setzer will announce the release of some new Christmas album! He already has three! Andrew Hamlin

Paramount Theatre

Dec 28–30

Beethoven Symphony No. 9

Things you may or may not know about Beethoven's 9th: It was his last symphony. Other composers became scared of writing a ninth symphony because the ninth was his last. He was almost totally deaf when he conducted the premiere, so the performers had to ignore him entirely! He was so deaf he couldn't hear the applause at the end—five standing ovations in all. A contralto named Caroline Unger had to turn him around so he could see the clapping hands and stuff thrown into the air. Caroline Unger was on the bill because Beethoven added singing to the final movement of this huge mother, which takes more than an hour to perform, post-to-post. Whew. AH

Benaroya Hall

Jan 4 & 6

Mozart Symphony No. 39

After having been seemingly lost to the ravages of time, the phantom-like "Funeral Song" will triumphantly arrive in Seattle, after being rediscovered in Russia, as the cornerstone of this program, featuring Mozart's innovative 39th Symphony and Ligeti's Violin Concerto, illustrated by acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich.

Benaroya Hall

Jan 12–14

Broadway Today

Take a look at how the high-kicks of the past led to the Broadway of today with showstopping performances of hits from The Book of Mormon, Honeymoon in Vegas, Cabaret, Company, Little Shop of Horrors, Nine, and more thanks to the Seattle Symphony and Steven Reineke, Betsy Wolfe, and Jeremy Jordan.

Benaroya Hall

Jan 13

Takács String Quartet with Erika Eckert

Tonight, UW's World Music series will present the Colorado-by-way-of-Hungary Takács String Quartet, an internationally acclaimed foursome who'll run through three swooping compositions, including Mozart's String Quartet in D Major, K. 575, Carl Vine's String Quartet No. 6, "Child's Play," and Mendelssohn's String Quintet No. 2 in B-fl at Major, Op. 87.

Meany Hall

Jan 18

Itzhak Perlman

Grammy- and Emmy-winning violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who's played a concert at the White House to honor Queen Elizabeth II and who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, will perform an evening set.

Meany Hall

Jan 18–19

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Prokofiev Concerto Festival 1 & 2

In this two-day Prokofiev love fest, Seattle Symphony will take you through the musical life of the great Russian composer. Fittingly, the Symphony invites the extremely young (he's 15), extremely talented (he won First Prize in the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Audition), and extremely local (he lives outside of Seattle) Nathan Lee to play the first (and shortest) piano concerto Prokofiev ever wrote. The next day you can catch the younger (she's 12) but equally talented Yesong Sophie Lee soloing Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 2. The highly celebrated pianists Charlie Albright and Conrad Tao and virtuoso violist William Hagen add some heft to the roster. One of my favorite violin parts happens on day one in Violin Concerto No. 1, but Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony on day two is worth seeing, too, so I guess you'll just have to go both days. RS

Benaroya Hall

Jan 19–21 & 26–28

Seattle Chamber Music Society Winter Festival

The Seattle Chamber Music Society will present its winter season program with a two-weekend festival of six concerts flanked by free pre-concert recitals. Twenty acclaimed musicians are featured this year, including internationally renowned soloists, principals with major US orchestras, and top competition winners.

Benaroya Hall

Jan 25–27

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Dausgaard Conducts Brahms

Last month, the Symphony announced that guest conductor Thomas Dausgaard will take over for the current (and beloved) music director, Ludovic Morlot, in 2019, so this will be your first chance to see him play the orchestra with a newfound sense of ownership and commitment. This suite of pastoral pieces from Brahms will be a good place to start, and the music, which Brahms described as "all blue sky, babbling of streams, sunshine and cool green shade" will be a bright spot in dreary January. There will also be a special, low-key, "Untuxed" performance on January 26. RS

Benaroya Hall

Jan 27

Mozart Birthday Bash with Early Music Seattle

Musicians of Early Music Seattle will honor the prodigious composer with performances of Bach's most inspired chamber pieces from each of his periods.

Resonance at SOMA Towers

Jan 31

The St. Olaf Choir in Concert

Designated by Time as one of the best college choirs in the nation, the St. Olaf Choir will perform a program of a cappella choral excellence with its 75 mixed voices.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 1–3

Rachmaninov Symphony No. 3

This concert will start with a frothy, springy burst of energy with Lili Boulanger's "D'un matin de printemps," keep the energy going with Elgar's tumultuous (and extremely challenging) violin concerto, and then swoon into full-blown nostalgia with Rachmaninov's 3rd (and final) symphony. Bring a date. RS

Benaroya Hall

Feb 2

Joshua Bell in Recital

Renowned violinist Joshua Bell will perform some of his favorite works accumulated throughout his career spanning more than 30 years as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, and conductor.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 3

Antonio Sanchez: Birdman Live

Revered bandleader and jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez will return to Seattle to perform his original percussion score to the widely acclaimed film Birdman.

Neptune Theatre

Feb 8 & 10

Morlot Conducts Strauss

Seattle Symphony conductor Ludovic Morlot will aim to bring out the storied power of American composer David Lang's shifting of Richard Strauss' "epic tone poem."

Benaroya Hall

Feb 11

Celebrate Asia

Seattle Symphony will perform their annual Celebrate Asia concert, which has celebrated traditions of Seattle's Asian communities for 10 years now. This year's concert will feature music by famous Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Indian composers.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 13–14

La La Land in Concert with the Seattle Symphony

Oscar-winning film La La Land will be given the orchestral treatment with this glamorous evening pairing hosted by the Seattle Symphony, which will perform the film's score as it is screened.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 16

Garrick Ohlsson

Known for his mastery of Chopin, Schubert, Mozart, and Beethoven, as well as his legendary win at the International Chopin Competition four decades ago, pianist Garrick Ohlsson will return to Meany Hall.

Meany Hall

Feb 16–18

Just A Kiss Away: Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton with the Seattle Symphony

Frequent Rolling Stones guest vocalist Lisa Fischer is more rock and roll than anything else, but she can imbue power into any genre through her towering vocal command. She'll be joined onstage by her crew the Grand Baton and the Seattle Symphony, all of whom will help her recreate rock anthems like "Gimme Shelter" and "Rock and Roll" through an orchestral lens.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 17

Free at The Frye: Gaëlle Solal

In this free and all-ages ongoing series at the Frye, award-winning French guitarist Gaëlle Solal will showcase the unbelievable level of talent that led the Conservatoire de Marseilles to declare her a virtuoso at age 14.

Frye Art Museum

Feb 18

Byron Schenkman & Friends: Handel—From the War of Love

Renowned classical musician and Klezmer music scholar Byron Schenkman will helm this evening dedicated to Handel's chamber cantatas for bass voice, with a special guest performance by bass-baritone vocalist Ian Pomerantz.

Benaroya Hall

Feb 21

Music of Today: DXARTS

The University of Washington School of Music and DXARTS — Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media have partnered once again to co-sponsor Music of Today, a series that showcases the innovative new works and contemporary classics composed and initiated by faculty members and guest composers.

UW Meany Theatre

Feb 24–March 10

Beatrice & Benedict

Beatrice & Benedict is the novel adaptation of Shakespeare's exuberant comedy Much Ado About Nothing set to an operatic score by Berlioz and paired with English text originally by Shakespeare. This theatrical hybrid produced by Seattle Opera is notable for its witty banter, fast pace, and confessional style.

McCaw Hall

Feb 24–27

Sacred Sensuality

If you've ever wanted to discuss the hypothetical sex lives of convent dwellers, Sacred Sexuality will scratch that itch with a program of music composed, published, and originally performed by 17th century nuns. Tonight it will be performed and interpreted again by sopranos Linda Tsatsanis and Brenna Wells, baroque cellist Nathan Whittaker, and organist Henry Lebedinsky for works by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Maria Peruchona, Isabella Leonarda, and more.

Resonance at SOMA Towers (Feb 24); St. Augustine's in-the-woods (Feb 25); Naked City Brewery & Taphouse (Feb 27)

Feb 25

Rachel Barton Pine: Testament

When you think of 18th century English people in powder wigs dancing their extremely organized dances in rococo rooms, the music you have in your head is the "partitas" part of Bach's Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. The sound of their sadness on the balcony thereafter is the "sonatas" part. Something about the stripped-down nature of a solo violin allows you to feel in your bones the mathematical precision and elegance that distinguishes Bach's work, and nobody brings that out better than Rachel Barton Pine. RS

Benaroya Hall

March 2

Chamber Singers & University Chorale

The University of Washington Chamber Singers and University Chorale will present their winter quarter concert with music from the Baltic states, including a performance of Jaakko Mantyjarvi's Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae.

UW Meany Theatre

March 6

Imogen Cooper

Imogen Cooper is an English pianist who didn't really begin to come to worldwide attention until she was in her late 50s; now she's in her late 60s and known for her interpretations of Schubert and Schumann. JEN GRAVES

Meany Hall

March 9

Ensign Symphony & Chorus: Hold On

Ensign Symphony & Chorus begin their new spring season with Hold On, an evening of lush Easter-ready musical traditions explored through song and orchestral arrangement, with a focus on peace and hope.

Benaroya Hall

Town Music: Roomful of Teeth

Roomful of Teeth draw on an eclectic mix of sounds that include "yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Georgian, Persian, Hindustani music, Korean P'ansori and Death Metal," but mostly yodeling and opera, though that be not a mark upon their name. Their mix is mesmerizing and energizing all at the same time. They come to Seattle a lot, but seeing them in the intimate setting of Seattle First Baptist Church will be a treat, so long as you don't melt upon entering. RS

Seattle First Baptist Church

March 13

Jerusalem Quartet

World-touring ensemble Jerusalem Quartet return to Meany with a dynamic string program including pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, and Janácek.

Meany Hall

March 16

De Falla Untuxed

In this short, no-intermission concert, enjoy the dynamic, colorful nature of Manuel de Falla's "The Three-Cornered Hat."

Benaroya Hall

Northwest Sinfonietta: Inspirations From The Past

The Northwest Sinfonietta will gather to perform works indicative of the theme "Inspirations From The Past," including a program of European works composed in the 1920s and '30s collected by composer and soloist Joseph Swensen.

Benaroya Hall

Every Sunday

Compline Choir

This is an excellent opportunity to lie on the floor while listening to choral music. Rich Smith wrote, "Something about the combination of the architecture, the fellowship, and the music gave me a little peek into the ineffable."

St. Mark's Cathedral