While the decorations set the holiday mood, the music carries the memories.
Music transcends language and overrides your thoughts and goes straight for the emotions. That’s why it’s such an important holiday tradition for many people in Boulder.
As an artistic community, it’s no surprise that Boulder has a rich offering of Christmas choirs who raise their voices every winter.
Whether you’re looking for a holiday chorus show to set your mood, for worship, for entertainment or for fun, here are some of our favorite holiday music performances in Boulder, including a list of where you can hear music on Christmas Eve.
Nov. 23, 24, 25
Dec. 1, 2, 9, 15, 16
The Boulder Chorale has a variety of holiday performances planned. For the 2018-19 season, the group is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Boulder Children’s Chorale, making this year extra special.
The group started the season with Switch on the Holidays, the flipping on of the holiday lights in downtown Boulder. Then, on Nov. 23-25 at 2 p.m., the children’s chorale performs “The Nutcracker” with the Boulder Philharmonic and Boulder Ballet at Macky Auditorium in Boulder. They also perform at 7 p.m. on Nov. 24.
On Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., the group will perform “Messiah” with Pro Musica Colorado at Mountain View Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place, Boulder. This show repeats at 3 p.m. Dec. 2.
At 2 p.m. Dec. 9 is “Celebrate!” with the Boulder Children’s Chorale at the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, in the Canyon Theater. Catch “Celebrate!” again at 4 p.m. that day.
Dec. 15 and 16 are for “Let Your Heart Be Light,” the culminating holiday concert at 4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder. This show is $25 for adults, $21 for seniors and military and $5 for kids, or get tickets for a family of four for $50.
CU Presents’ Holiday Festival
One of the most anticipated holiday traditions is the annual Holiday Festival brought to you by the University of Colorado’s Performing Arts. The performance, at Macky Auditorium’s stunning concert hall, brings together the university’s top student and faculty musicians for a family-friendly show. The 90-minute event features choirs, orchestras and bands. Expect to hear your favorite holiday classics, as well as something new. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets start at $20.
Ars Nova Singers
Dec. 7, 9, 13, 15
The Ars Nova Singers’s holiday show, “In the Moon of Wintertime: Christmas With Ars Nova,” is a unique spin on a holiday show. It incorporates the Colorado premiere of “The Consolation of Apollo” by Kile Smith, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8. This first manned visit to the moon entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve in 1968, making it a timely celebration this time of year. This is a choral tribute to that moment.
The second half of the show is just as unique, featuring rarely-heard holiday music and new sounds.
Show are as follows: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., Boulder; 4 p.m. Dec. 9 at St. Paul Community of Faith, 1600 Grant St., Denver; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., Boulder; and 7:30 p.m. at the UCC Longmont, 1500 9th Ave., Longmont.
Tickets are $5 for 21 and younger or $25 for adults for the first show and Dec. 13; and free for 21 and younger/$20 for adults for the Dec. 9 and Dec. 15 shows.
Boulder Messiah Chorale and Orchestra
Here’s a longstanding Boulder tradition: the Messiah Sing-Along. The Boulder Messiah Chorale and Orchestra has performed Handel’s “Messiah” every year since 1983, in the form of community sing-alongs. You’re encouraged to join in and sing with this choir. Everyone is a member of this show, whether you’re on stage or in the audience.
The show is led by a full orchestra, with soloists and an amateur chorus.
The shows are at the St. John’s Episcopal Church at 14th and Pine in downtown Boulder. Tickets cost $15-$20. Shows are at 5 p.m. Dec. 15; and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 16.
Rocky Mountain Revels
Dec. 21, 22, 23, 26
Here’s a different musical celebration of the holidays. The Rocky Mountain Revels bring traditional music, dance, drama and ritual in the form of participatory theater to the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut and 26th streets. “The Christmas Revels” holiday tradition is packed with music and history. This year, the group is celebrating Scandinavian folklore and song. The 2018 show, “Nordic Lights,” features Scandinavian tunes and tales and celebrates the solstice and Christmas with the likes of trolls, a magical fox and a story about brave children. The show includes nationally touring guest artist Sandra Wong on the nyckelharpa and hardanger fiddle.
Expect audience sing-alongs of both ancient and modern songs. The show typically sells out, so plan ahead. Tickets are $20-$28.
Christmas Eve Choirs
Many local churches offer Christmas Eve services and choirs. Here are a few (far from all) that you can visit:
- Unity of Boulder, 2855 Folsom St., 5-6:10 p.m. (The service, a musical drama “Star Bright Christmas Joy,” is free, although you need to reserve your spot with tickets.) There is also a 6:30 p.m. Dec. 23 service. Free, on-sight childcare is available.
- First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine St., has a candlelight service 9-10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, featuring carols and a choir.
- St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., at 2:30 p.m. (a shortened version for families), as well as at 4:30, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. St. John’s also has Christmas caroling on Dec. 22. Food, hot chocolate and fellowship start at 4 p.m., following by neighborhood caroling.
- Unitarian Universalist Church, 5001 Pennsylvania Ave., at 4:30 and 7 p.m. The early service is designed for families, with kid-friendly content. This church also has a Christmas day brunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
- First Pres Boulder, 1820 15th St., at 7 p.m. This church also has a special “Glory of Christmas” concert series 7 p.m. Dec. 14; and 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 15, featuring the Chancel Choir, Salt and Light Choir, First Pres Worship Team and the Boulder Symphony. Then, at 3 p.m. Dec. 16 is “The Gift of Music,” a musical performed by the children’s choirs, plus a carol sing.