Classical, jazz, rock and more fill the air to get the Twin Cities in the holiday spirit

Photo by viperagp/Fotolia

By Lianna Matt

There's a reason that the Grinch's heart grows three sizes when he hears the Who's in Whoville singing: Holiday music can touch the heart. Classic carols are a must when it comes to ringing in the season, but Minneapolis and St. Paul also have a mix of more eclectic sounds for the season. No matter what your musical tastes, at least one of the many local and national talents will find the song that brings out the holiday spirit in you.


If you’re craving holiday music already, add tickets to see 90s boy band 98º perform their new Christmas album, “Let It Snow,” at Pantages Theatre on Nov. 9 to your wishlist. The next day (Nov. 10), SiriusXM presents The Brian Setzer Orchestra for the 14th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour at State Theatre with a set list that mixes retro holiday jams with a 19-piece orchestra and the three time Grammy-Award winner's greatest hits. If you can't make those, don't worry; Hennepin Theatre Trust has more holiday concerts coming down the pike.

Electric violinist Lindsay Stirling visits the Orpheum Theatre Dec. 7, filling the stage with her blend of classical violin training, dance and electronica. While she is known for unique arrangements of songs like “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons and her own original pieces such as “Crystallize,” this tour also includes her first ever holiday album, called “Warmer in the Winter.“

To kick off the festivities in December, though, just take a short walk down Nicollet Mall to Orchestra Hall. On Dec. 1, “Merry and Bright: A Big, Brass Christmas with Charles Lazarus” highlights holiday music in Latin, jazz, lounge, gospel and caroling styles. Among other Orchestra Hall events, look at the calendar extra carefully when VocalEssence hits the stage, a capella style, Dec. 2-10; they have two special just-for-kids concerts Dec. 9. The pinnacle of Orchestra Hall's holiday season may be the all new holiday concert Dec. 21. Conducted by Sarah Hicks and conceived by Peter Rothstein, the artistic director of Theatre Latte Da, “Home for the Holidays” will blend storytelling and song with a healthy dose of Twin Cities talent to welcome the holidays. To bookend the holiday season (at least until their new Year's Eve concert), come back on Dec. 22 for pianist George Winston and an evening of solo holiday arrangements.

These are just a handful of holiday concerts happening in Minneapolis. Catch the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus in an all new holiday spectacular Dec. 8-10 at Ted Mann Hall, and don't forget to look at the many musicians coming to venues like Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant.

St. Paul

For those who are more neutral on the eggnog and the mistletoe, Radio station KDWB’s Jingle Ball is one of the least holiday music events you can go to while still saying you went to, well, a holiday music event. Come to Xcel Energy Center Dec. 4 to see a huge lineup including Fall Out Boy, Kesha, Charlie Puth, Niall Horan, Camila Cabello and Liam Payne.

Over at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, vocal virtuosos like R&B artist Will Downing (Dec. 5) and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love (Dec. 15) are on the lineup, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra slips onto the Ordway stage Dec. 8, 9, 16 and 17 with Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and then Handel's Messiah in between their other area performances.

Sounds of Blackness: The Night Before Christmas—A Musical Fantasy” is one of the acts to take the stage at The Fitzgerald Theater. With some theater and dance mixed in, the Grammy Award-winning group shows the true meaning of Christmas to families and audience goers of all ages. On Dec. 23, they'll get your toes tapping with R&B, hip hop, jazz, blues, gospel tunes and even Rudolph the Rappin' Reindeer.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” tour returns again to Xcel Energy Center Dec. 30 with its trademark powerhouse vocals, searing electric guitars and violins, and enthralling stage presence. For those who haven’t gone to one of their shows before, the first half follows a holiday story and the promised pyrotechnics enter during the second half’s greatest hits and new works.

Suburb Spotlight: Chanhassen

Minnesota local acts (and some touring ones) make up the performances at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters’ lengthy holiday calendar. Singer, songwriter and Cities 97 radio host Keri Noble will be performing holiday tunes alongside her own album “More Than Santa” Nov. 24 and 25. “Two Girls & A Boyd Got New Shoes for Christmas” runs Dec. 19 and 20 and features Mary Jane Alm and Aimeé and Boyd Lee. They also managed to rope in Pat Donohue, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist and songwriter from “A Prairie Home Companion” for a special treat. Mick Sterling fans can see him twice at Chanhassen, once in collaboration with Brave New Workshop for a singing and storytelling night called “At Christmas” Dec. 12 and 13, and once with University of Minnesota alum and Super Bowl Champion Ben Utecht as they sing everyone's favorite holiday classics in “An Andy & Bing Christmas” Dec. 26-31.

In Minneapolis, St. Paul and the southwest suburb of St. Louis Park from Dec. 15-17, the pure harmonies and tones of the Rose Ensemble will fill the air with the crowd favorite show, “Welcome the Season: Christmas in Baroque Malta,” and before that, western suburb Wayzata and St. Paul will welcome the acclaimed Singers ensemble Dec. 2, 3 and 10. No matter where you are in the Twin Cities, there will be a song to fill your heart.


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