The holidays wouldn’t be the same without many organizations and choruses performing all the favorite hits. But there are also other groups that offer more serious fare to make for a varied season.
• The Albany Symphony Orchestra under music director David Alan Miller offers the annual Magic of Christmas, which features more than 200 local kids from the Boland School of Irish Dancing, The Music Studio and Capital District Youth Chorale. Santa Claus may even visit. 3 p.m. Dec. 3, Palace Theatre, Albany. (518) 465-4663, palacealbany.org
• In a more serious mood will be the two-day December Mozart marathon of 1786: Mozart’s Miraculous Year. Pianists Wei Luo, Felicia He and David Fung each perform one of Mozart’s piano concertos, ASO principal French hornist William Hughes solos in Mozart’s French horn Concerto, singers from Dawn Upshaw’s vocal project at Bard College perform arias from his operas, and the orchestra plays his Symphony No. 38 (Prague). 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and 3 p.m. Dec. 10, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
On Jan. 6 and 7, the Albany Symphony Orchestra returns to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to present works by Schumann, Beethoven and Chris Theofanidis’ Viola Concerto with violist Richard O’Neill. (518) 694-3300, albanysymphony.com
• For more than 30 years, the Empire State Youth Orchestra has offered Melodies of Christmas, a fundraiser for the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center. This year, under music director Helen Cha-Pyo, the show features the orchestra, ESY chorale, dancers from Orlando School of Dance and Northeast Ballet, and the Joey Thomas Big Band. Dec. 14-17, Proctors, Schenectady. (518) 346-6204; proctors.org
• The Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra under music director Charles Peltz presents its annual holiday concert with guests. 4 p.m. Dec. 17, Glens Falls High School, Glens Falls. (518) 793-1348, theglensfallssymphony.org
• The 70 members of the Music Company Orchestra under Gerald Lanoue are retired music teachers, performers and music enthusiasts who love to share their joy of music. Their holiday schedule: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Burnt Hills/Ballston Lake High School; 3 p.m. Dec. 10, Niskayuna Reformed Church, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Coburg Village. mcomusic.org
• Capitol Chamber Artists perform Brahms’ works for violin, piano or organ. 3 p.m. Dec. 16, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany. (518) 458-9231
• EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) in Troy presents international virtuoso hand drummer Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, Iran’s premiere tonbak player, in a solo recital. Mortazavi is known for developing more than 30 striking and finger techniques for this goblet-shaped instrument. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. (518) 276-3921, empac.rpi.edu
• In Troy, Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church’s noon hour series features the Capital Area Flute Club in seasonal favorites. Dec. 19. (518) 273-7351, stpaulstroy.org
• Saratoga Chamber Players welcomes 2018 with violin/piano music by Beethoven, Bartok, Elgar and Messiaen. 3 p.m. Jan. 28, Filene Hall, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs. (518) 584-1427, saratogachamberplayers.org
• International fiddler Eileen Ivers presents a Celtic Christmas. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy. (518) 273-0038, troymusichall.org
• Union College’s Concert Series hosts some of the greatest international stars. On Dec. 3, Welsh pianist Llyr Williams makes his series debut in one of his rare U.S. appearances, with music by Debussy, Beethoven, and Liszt. The series has a special relationship with the Curtis Institute of Music and features outstanding young students in free concerts. On Dec. 10, pianist Janice Carissa will play Beethoven and Bacewicz. The venerable early music group Boston Camerata will celebrate the holidays in a traditional French Christmas with period medieval instruments and song on Dec. 17.
• On Jan. 14, violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner juxtapose music of Beethoven with Andrew Norman’s 21st century sounds. And on Feb. 10, legendary British tenor Ian Bostridge returns with longtime partner pianist Julius Drake to sing selected Schubert songs. All concerts at 3 p.m. (518) 388-6080, unioncollegeconcerts.org
• The Decoda Chamber Ensemble, a collaboration between Carnegie Hall and the Juilliard School, is part of a Saratoga Performing Arts Center initiative. 7 p.m. Dec. 15, Bethesda Church, Saratoga Springs. spac.org
• Albany Pro Musica’s The Many Moods of Christmas features composer-in-residence Ola Gjeilo’s Dreamweaver and Robert Shaw’s Christmas Suite. 3 p.m. Dec. 17, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy. (518) 273-0038, albanypromusica.org
• The a cappella Auriel Camerata presents The Joy of Christmas. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Glenville. aurielcamerata.org
• Director Julie Panke leads two choral groups in holiday favorites: Thursday Musical Club at 3 p.m. Dec. 2, First Reformed Church, Schenectady; Capital Chamber Voices, 7 p.m. Dec. 16, Genet Elementary School, East Greenbush.
• There are two performances of Handel’s Messiah: The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys with a Baroque chamber orchestra under Woodrow Bynum perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Albany’s Cathedral of All Saints. (518) 465-1342. The 100-strong Octavo Singers under director Curtis Funk sing at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in Union College’s Memorial Chapel in Schenectady. (518) 253-7088, octavosingers.com
• The all-male Mendelssohn Club presents its annual holiday concert, with guests Tamarac Select Elementary Chorus and the Adirondack Bones Trombone Quartet. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, The Egg, Albany. (518) 428-5382, mendelssohn.org
• The community-based Mohawk Valley Chorus under David Rossi likes to travel to sing at the holidays. 8 p.m. Dec. 1, First Reformed Church of Schenectady; 7 p.m. Dec. 2, Johnstown High School; 3 p.m. Dec. 3, United Presbyterian Church, Amsterdam. (518) 779-5061, mohawkvalleychorus.org
• Every Sunday at 5 p.m., the First Reformed Church of Schenectady presents Jazz Vespers with a little prayer and a lot of jazz.
• Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble is at Schenectady’s Van Dyck Lounge on Union Street. 8 p.m. Dec. 5 and Jan. 2.
• Skip Parson’s Dixieland Band meets at 10 p.m. Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 and on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 at The Fountain on New Scotland Avenue in Albany.
• Phil Allen’s Concert Jazz Band performs at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 and Jan. 18 at The Kitchen on Congress Street in Troy.
• The Swingtime Jazz Society starts its series at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14 at Renaissance Hall, 820 Eastern Ave., Schenectady.
• Take a day trip to the Glimmerglass Festival to see Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, a semi-staged production with costumes and props. 7 p.m. Dec. 19 and 20, Cooperstown High School. (607)-547-2255, glimmerglass.org
Geraldine Freedman is a local freelance writer and a former freelance classical flutist in New York City.