Choral groups bring back live concerts this Christmas

Atlanta Women’s Chorus will sing Faure’s “Requiem” as part of the ensemble’s holiday concert. 
Courtesy of Dan Lax
Atlanta Women’s Chorus will sing Faure’s “Requiem” as part of the ensemble’s holiday concert. Courtesy of Dan Lax

Credit: Dan Lax

Credit: Dan Lax

After the pandemic pause, musicians are eager to celebrate the season.

Live music is back this holiday season

Many music lovers in the metro area associate the holiday season with grand choral works. They’re used to hearing, or singing along with, everything from Handel’s “Messiah” to “Frosty the Snowman” in four-part harmony. For amateur singers and Christmas enthusiasts, there’s good news this year: There will be music, live and in person, for the holidays.

That seems like a simple statement of fact, but of course, in the performing arts world of 2021, nothing is a given. All around the metro area, traditional holiday choral concerts are back after skipping a year. While some went virtual in 2020, many of these choral performances, which were incredibly risky when COVID spread was high, simply skipped last season altogether.

These 11 concerts represent a sampling of what the Atlanta metro area has to offer. Go to one, go to them all — just be sure to check the performance websites before you head out, as most venues have strict COVID protocols in place including vaccination requirements and “all masks, all the time” policies.

Emmet Cahill. The Irish tenor will be joined in his Atlanta debut by the Georgia State University Singers and local soprano Amy Little in this concert of Irish tunes alongside religious and secular Christmas music. The show serves as a fundraiser for five ministries doing work around the world, and ticket fees will be split among the organizations. 7 p.m., Nov. 29. $40-$100. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000,

Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, an ensemble founded in 1981 by artistic director Jeffrey McIntyre and 45 area singers. Now led by Donald Milton III, the group will unveil two new pieces at the annual holiday shows, “Hanerot Halalu,” arranged by Milton, and “Holiday Lament,” billed as a “joyful and hilarious song.” Alongside those additions, listeners can expect to hear “Beteleheum,” a Nigerian carol, and “Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre. 8 p.m., Dec. 3; 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Dec. 4. $35-$60. St. Philip’s Cathedral, 2744 Peachtree Road. NW, Atlanta. 404-320-1030,

Georgia Symphony Orchestra. Like most other ensembles, the Marietta-based symphony skipped its annual live holiday event last year, but the musicians are back in 2021 with audience sing-along tunes and other holiday music. The ensemble will also feature the winner of its Virtual to Center Stage talent competition, judged by area musical luminaries including opera singer Jennifer Holloway and Broadway performer Shuler Hensley. 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Dec. 4. $12-$40. Marietta Performing Arts Center, 1171 Whitlock Ave. NW, Marietta. 770-615-2908,

Emory concerts. Emory University kicks off its holiday celebration Dec. 4 with “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” which features candlelight singing by Emory Concert Choir and University Chorus in the Glenn Memorial Auditorium at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. A week later, Atlanta Master Chorale takes over the Schwartz Center for a Christmas concert that will be livestreamed. The chorale next returns to Emory in January to perform Durufle’s “Requiem” with Georgia-raised mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” 8 p.m. Dec. 4. $20. Atlanta Master Chorale, 8 p.m., Dec. 10 and Dec. 11; 4 p.m., Dec. 12. $35. Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, 1700 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta. 404-727-5050,

KSU Holiday Concert. The Kennesaw State University Holiday Concert is a showcase for the myriad ensembles at Kennesaw State University. Listeners will hear the university’s wind ensemble, orchestra and choirs perform holiday fare. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Dec. 4. $15-$20. Bailey Performance Center, 488 Prillaman Way, Kennesaw. 470-578-6650,

Masterworks Chorale. Masterworks Chorale, which celebrates its 83rd season this year, will bring its Christmas at the Centre program to Newnan. Gate City Brass, the Atlanta-based brass quintet, will also perform along with soloists including mezzo-soprano Gwendolyn Reid Kuhlmann and bass Henry Roberts. The chorale is led by Kevin Leong, who was named music director and conductor in 2017. 2:30 p.m., Dec. 5. $5-$12. Donald W. Nixon Center for Performing and Visual Arts, 1523 Lower Fayetteville Road. 770-254-2787,

Coro Vocati is back this year with two holiday performances in the metro area.
Courtesy of Steve Ozcomert
Coro Vocati is back this year with two holiday performances in the metro area. Courtesy of Steve Ozcomert

Credit: Steve Ozcomert

Credit: Steve Ozcomert

Coro Vocati. Coro Vocati presents its “A Season of Carols” concert in two locations in the metro area this season. The cohort of professional singers has been based in Atlanta for more than a decade and is led by John Dickson, the director of choral studies at Louisiana State University. The group gave the Georgia premiere of Craig Hella Johnson’s “Considering Matthew Shepard,” a multimedia choral work, in June 2019. 7:30 p.m., Dec. 11. $10-$25. All Saints Episcopal Church, 634 W. Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 3 p.m., Dec. 12. $10-$25. St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, 571 Holt Road NE, Marietta.

Georgia Boy Choir. An orchestra and the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church organ will join all five levels of Georgia Boy Choir members as they weave their way through holiday classics. Listeners will hear familiar tunes and a few lesser-known sacred hymns. Founded in 2009 under the leadership of David White, the organization boasts 85 singers across its ensembles. 7 p.m., Dec. 17-18. $15-$40. Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, 3180 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-402-4083,

Atlanta Women’s Chorus. The Atlanta Women’s Chorus has dedicated its holiday show, “Remembrance and Joy,” to the victims of the pandemic. In that vein, the group will present a new arrangement of Faure’s “Requiem,” followed by holiday tunes, including “The Work of Christmas” by Dan Forrest. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Dec. 18. $20-$25. Morningside Presbyterian Church, 1411 N. Morningside Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-320-1030,

“Messiah.” The Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus, directed by Norman Mackenzie and accompanied by the orchestra, makes its triumphant return to Symphony Hall after a two-year absence to perform Handel’s “Messiah.” A week prior, the full ASO Chorus joins the Gwinnett Young Singers for the return of “Christmas with the ASO.” After this seasonal homecoming, the full chorus will be back on stage in March for Mozart’s “Requiem” with Nathalie Stutzmann, the ASO’s music director in waiting. 8 p.m., Dec. 18-19. $20-$89. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000,

The King’s Singers visit Spivey Hall as part of a U.S. tour. 
Courtesy of Rebecca Reid
The King’s Singers visit Spivey Hall as part of a U.S. tour. Courtesy of Rebecca Reid

Credit: Rebecca Reid

Credit: Rebecca Reid

The King’s Singers. The UK-based, six-person choral ensemble will be on a whirlwind tour of the U.S. in December, swinging through Colorado, Indiana and Utah before heading south. The group will perform two shows in Georgia, one at Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall in Athens and one at Spivey Hall. Wherever you see them, except to hear rich, contrapuntal arrangements and tight harmonies. 7:30 p.m., Dec. 18. $32-$62. Hugh Hodson Concert Hall, 230 River Road, Athens. 706-542-4400, 3 p.m., Dec. 19. $75. Spivey Hall, 2000 Clayton State Blvd., Morrow. 678-466-4200,