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20 November 2020, 17:55 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 17:25
From streamed Messiahs to online Christmas carol singalongs, here’s our roundup of the very best virtual festive music you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
As the nights draw in on 2020, this uncertain and tough year for so many of us, we remain uplifted by the beautiful music we hear, and news of ongoing performances and concerts – albeit in the virtual realm during lockdowns.
Christmas is approaching and, even if it takes a slightly different shape this year, there’s no shortage of festive entertainment on offer.
From socially-distanced and streamed Messiahs, to online Christmas carol singalongs, there are already plenty of events to book yourself in on and add to the calendar.
So-ho-ho-ho without further ado, here’s our roundup of the best online Christmas concerts and classical music being streamed this festive season...
Tuesday 1 December – Thursday 31 December: VOCES8’s online festival returns with a snow-dusted selection of Christmas music, filmed live from the choir’s stunning church in the heart of London, as well as other venues across the world. ‘Live From London Christmas’ comprises 15 concerts in total.
Thursday 3 December, 19:00: A live-streamed concert of Handel’s Messiah is being performed at St George’s, Hanover Square in London – Handel’s own church. The performance blends ‘live’ and ‘virtual’ together. Laurence Cummings will lead four star soloists and the London Handel Orchestra with choruses prepared and pre-recorded by six choirs which will be integrated digitally into the overall performance.
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Tuesday 8 December onwards: Constella OperaBallet presents a Christmas Gala in aid of their Connecting Stars initiative for care home residents, which sees musicians provide free one-to-one virtual performances to isolated care home residents. Watch for a great cause – to enable this kind series to continue – and expect beautiful performances of Piazzolla, Bizet and Bernstein, and much more, filmed in Studio Wayne McGregor.
Thursday 10 December, 19:30 GMT: John Rutter conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in ‘A Christmas Celebration’ online, with favourite carols, uplifting fanfares, and other festive classics guaranteed to bring warmth and celebration into your home – filmed in the stunning surrounds of St Albans Cathedral. Tickets are only £10.
Friday 11 December, 20:00 GMT: The Oxford Bach Soloists perform from Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, with duets from baritones Roderick Williams OBE and Christopher Purves. Also singing, will be Classic FM presenter Alexander Armstrong, who joins Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Jeremy Irons to deliver seasonal readings and poetry. The concert will be available to view until 31 December and is free, but viewers are invited to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support. Artistic director, Tom Hammond-Davies, says: “A global pandemic doesn’t mean you need to miss out on Christmas Carol concerts this year. Instead, 2020 is the year you might be able to get front row seats at events you only dreamed of. Watch the Gondwana choirs in Australia or visit Carnegie Hall in New York, all from the comfort of your own home.”
Saturday 11 – Sunday 13 December, 12:00 GMT-: Comedian Robin Ince’s 24-hour live spectacular Nine Lessons and Carols For Socially Distanced People will see him live on stage and joined virtually by Professor Brian Cox, and astronauts Chris Hadfield and Helen Sharman. With just a limited audience at Kings Place, it will also be streamed for viewers at home.
Sunday 13 December, 15:00 GMT: London Symphony Orchestra presents a festive coral concert and carol singalong for you to join in from home. ‘A singalong Christmas’ gives us a chance to join in and celebrate the season great orchestra without leaving the sofa! Broadcast ‘as live’ on the LSO YouTube channel and on demand for 90 days, for free.
Sunday 13 December, 19:30 GMT: Cancer support charity Maggie’s presents ‘Carols in Your Kitchen’, a star-studded concert that invites you to watch the festive splendour from the comfort of you home, and join in at the top of your lungs from the household room you happen to be in, as you so wish... Join Fiona Bruce, actors Keeley Hawes and James Norton, and presenter Sue Perkins, and others – and enjoy performances from baritone Roderick Williams OBE, Lulu, and more.
Thursday 17 December, 19:00: Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Alice Martineau Appeal presents Carols by Candlelight, with appearances from Dame Judi Dench, Jenny Agutter, Pat Allerton AKA the ‘Portable Priest’, Damian Lewis, Jane Asher and David Haig. This wonderful, pre-recorded virtual carol service was filmed at St Luke’s Church in Chelsea and at Abbey Road Studios with the Winchester College Chapel Choir and the celebrity readers, and will be streamed online via YouTube. All that – and raising money for a crucial cause.
Friday 18 December - Saturday 26 December: CityMusic Live, an online concert platform built by and for musicians, announces CityMusic Live at Christmas. Concerts include The Piccadilly Sinfonietta’s Piccadilly Christmas Concert, and performances by The English Symphony Orchestra’s leader Zoë Beyers, and pianist and Chopin expert Warren Mailley-Smith.
Sunday 20 December, 19:00 EST: The Handel and Haydn Society and GBH present Handel’s Messiah for Our Time, an online iteration of its annual festive performance of Handel’s Messiah, with a nod to reflecting to the tough year that’s been. Featuring Ian Watson conducting, and vocalists Joélle Harvey, Reginald Mobley, Aaron Sheehan, and Sumner Thompson.
Sunday 20 December, 19:30 BST: Sarah Brightman reunites with Andrew Lloyd Webber for her first ever live-streamed concert, A Christmas Symphony, from London’s Christ Church Spitalfields. Tickets, which will raise funds for the Global FoodBanking Network, can be purchased via the link below. The stream will be available to ticket holders for 48 hours.
Tuesday 22 December: Christmas with The King’s Singers streams online from today, and is available until 31 December. The choir sings from composer John Rutter’s local church – and promises the warmth and comfort of all our favourite Christmas music.
A Classic FM Christmas
Classic FM presents an exclusive Christmas concert featuring traditional carols and festive favourites, presented by Charlotte Hawkins. Enjoy performances from Genesis Sixteen, the Carducci Quartet, organist Anna Lapwood, and pianist and composer Thomas Hewitt Jones, performing favourites like Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Once In Royal David's City and Carol of the Bells.
Christmas on Medici.tv
Head over to classical music streaming service giant, Medici, and peruse their Christmas collection of premium concert streams – from the Nutcracker with Staatsoper Berlin, to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio from Philippe Herreweghe and Collegium Vocale Gent, you’re bound to find a festive gem you love.