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Holiday music is far more than just jingle bells these days on the Midpeninsula.
Seasonal sounds around here include gospel, klezmer, sacred music, dance music, Gaelic songs and Gregorian chant, for starters. Audiences will hear voices and strings, bells and harps, and a few period instruments from centuries past.
Other kinds of arts groups take part in the December spirit, too. There are several "Nutcracker" ballets, of course, and special events at theaters, museums, bookstores and art galleries. Below is an assortment of some of the many local festivities.
■ Antique meets modern as the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs Handel's "Messiah" on period instruments and with today's voices in the performing-arts center at Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7; tickets are $35-$95, with $10 student rush tickets. Call 415-252-1288 or go to philharmonia.org.
■ At 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Stanford University's Memorial Church hosts its annual visit from the Chanticleer men's a cappella choral group. The program includes carols, gospel and chant. Admission is $52 general and $10 for Stanford students, with other discounts available for groups, youth and other students. Go to livelyarts.org or call 650-725-ARTS.
■ People who aren't content just to listen to Handel's "Messiah" attend the "Messiah" Sing-Along at Stanford's Memorial Church, bringing instruments and voices. This year's event is at 8 p.m. Dec. 10, with orchestral parts provided and choral scores available for purchase. Stephen M Sano conducts. Admission is $10 general, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. Go to music.stanford.edu or call 650-725-ARTS.
■ Viva la Musica! performs a holiday choral/orchestral concert, "Classical, Carols and Klezmer," at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto. Tickets are $25 "preferred," $22 general, $20 for seniors and $15 for students. Call 650-281-9663 or go to vivalamusica.org.
■ "Welcome, Yule!" is the theme of Schola Cantorum's 4 p.m. Dec. 12 concert in Palo Alto, with a program including Frank Ferko's "Festival of Carols." The performance is at the First Congregational Church at 1985 Louis Road; tickets are $24 general, $20 for seniors and $12 for students. Go to scholacantorum.org or call 650-254-1700.
■ Medieval carols, seasonal motets and more modern songs abound when the Bay Choral Guild presents "Christmas: Then and Now" at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 12, in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto. Tickets are $25 general, $20 for seniors and $6 for students. Go to baychoralguild.org.
■ Seasonal songs keep company with Michael Daugherty's "Raise the Roof" timpani concerto at the California Youth Symphony's free holiday concert. The performance is at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Go to cys.org.
■ There's another Messiah Sing planned locally: Schola Cantorum's annual event is at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts at 500 Castro St., at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Tickets are $18 general, $14 for seniors and students, and $12 for children. Go to scholacantorum.org or call 650-903-6000.
■ The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir comes to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts at 500 Castro St. to present a holiday concert. Admission to the 7:30 p.m. show on Dec. 17 is $36 general, $31 for seniors and students and $28 for children. Go to mvcpa.com or call 650-903-6000.
■ Mary McLaughlin sings songs from the tradition of her native Ireland, with harpist Steve Coulter, in the program "A Gaelic Christmas" at the Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Road. The free performance is at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 23. Call 650-851-0147 or go to marymclaughlin.com.
■ Smuin Ballet's "Christmas Ballet" starts with a white-costumed first act with traditional music, then turns more modern. Performances are at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts at 500 Castro St., Dec. 8 through Dec. 12: Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is $62/$59/$49 for adults and $20 for students. Go to smuinballet.org or call 650-903-6000.
■ Mountain View's Bayer Ballet Company presents "A Winter Fairy Tale," a seasonal youth ballet in the Russian style, at 5 p.m. Dec. 18 and 2 p.m. Dec. 19. Performances are at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St. Tickets: $30 general, $25 seniors and kids. Go to mvcpa.com or call 650-903-6000.
■ Two actors play 22 small-town Texas denizens in the holiday comedy "A Tuna Christmas," now at the Bus Barn Theatre at 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos. The plot includes a Christmas Phantom, the censorship of "Silent Night" and a holiday play in peril. Show times are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Wednesdays (Dec. 1, 8 and 15) at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays (Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12) at 3 p.m. Tickets are $24-$32. Go to busbarn.org or call 650-941-0551.
■ The musical "A Christmas Memory" has its world premiere next month, presented by TheatreWorks from Dec. 4 through Dec. 26 (after Dec. 1-3 previews) at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. The show is based on a nostalgic Truman Capote story about a boy's friendship with an elderly cousin. Tickets are $19-$67. Go to theatreworks.org or call 650-463-1960.
ARTS & CRAFTS AND EXHIBITS
■ The holiday show at Gallery House includes art gifts such as prints, jewelry and sculptural angels by different artists. The exhibit runs through Dec. 24, open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Starting Nov. 29, Monday to Saturday hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) The gallery is at 320 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; go to galleryhouse2.com or call 650-326-1668.
■ The Portola Art Gallery is displaying a "Small Treasures" group show of smaller works that could be holiday gifts. The show runs through Dec. 31, open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and Dec. 5 and 13 from noon to 5 p.m.) at the Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Road, Menlo Park. Go to portolaartgallery.com or call 650-321-0220.
■ Electric trains, quilts and Meccano models are among the seasonal objects in the "Holiday Bells & Whistles" exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum, 51 S. San Antonio Road. The free exhibit runs through Jan. 2, Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Call 650-948-9427 or go to losaltoshistory.org.
■ The 23rd annual Christmas Creche exhibit is open Dec. 4 through Dec. 8 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3865 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Hundreds of folk-art creches from many nations will be displayed, with kids' activities including crafts and marionette shows. Music groups including the Valparaiso Singers and the Gunn High School Chamber Singers will perform. Admission is free. Call 650-856-3781 or go to christmascreche.org.
KIDS AND FAMILIES
■ "Madeline's Christmas" the musical version comes to the Palo Alto Children's Theatre at 1305 Middlefield Road, with several afternoon and evening performances between Dec. 7 and Dec. 19. Tickets are $12 general and $8 for children; go to cityofpaloalto.org or call 650-463-4970.
■ The West Bay Model Railroad Association presents its annual Christmas model-railroad show at 1090 Merrill St. in Menlo Park, with running model trains and railroad memorabilia. Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 10, noon to 6 p.m. Dec. 11, and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 12. Admission is free. Call 650-322-0685.
■ The holiday LEGO and train display returns to Palo Alto's Museum of American Heritage on Dec. 10 and remains until Jan. 9, open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday at 351 Homer Ave. The scene includes a 12-by-25-foot train layout with many local landmarks. Admission is $2 general and free for active museum and Bay Area LEGO User Group members. Call 650-321-1004 or go to moah.org.
■ Peninsula Youth Theatre presents "The Match Girl's Gift," the Laurie Brooks stage adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen holiday story. Show times are 9:30 and 11 a.m. Dec. 10 (tickets $8), and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11 (tickets $10), at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts at 500 Castro St. Go to pytnet.org or call 650-903-6000.