Hear the bells

Holiday music, choir and dance performances abound in December

Dancers from A.V.A. Ballet Theatre rehearse for The Nutcracker, which opens on Dec. 8. at the Pioneer Center.

Dancers from A.V.A. Ballet Theatre rehearse for The Nutcracker, which opens on Dec. 8. at the Pioneer Center.


What’s a holiday season without an abundance of seasonal music? The tell-tale signs of winter celebrations include warm string instruments, triumphant horns, harmonious voices and perhaps a ballerina or two for good measure. It’s easy to spend every weekend after Thanksgiving attending a local orchestra, dance or choir performance in Northern Nevada’s many music halls and churches. This season, you’ll have no problem finding a mix of beloved classics and modern favorites. And the best part? Many of the shows are free.

Visions of sugar plums

Reno Philharmonic Orchestra

Family can’t decide between classic and modern, dancing and singing? The orchestra’s annual Spirit of the Season performance checks all the boxes and is a great way to kick off December holidays. Conductor Jason Altieri will lead the orchestra, along with guest artists from near and far, in three performances throughout the first weekend of December: Dec. 2, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Dec. 3, 2 p.m. Young ones will be excited to see Santa Claus on stage.

The Reno Phil is also a vital component to the Christmas classic The Nutcracker, performed at the Pioneer Center by the A.V.A. Ballet Theatre. It’s impossible to get through winter without hearing the familiar melody of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Tchaikovsky’s score provides the essential atmosphere to the fanciful Bavarian story, and conductor Laura Jackson ensures that the orchestra is as lively as the ballerinas on stage. Children can meet the dancers after the afternoon shows during the Sugar Plum party. Shows are on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

Tickets and information: renophil.com

Family outing

Reno Wind Symphony

The Reno Wind Symphony will have two performances of its annual holiday celebration. Ross Mitchell, KOH Radio host, brings his familiar timbre to the event and will recite “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Mitchell will also sing during the symphony’s rendition of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. For families with little ones, the Dec. 17 performance starts at 3 p.m. Those looking for a romantic evening out can enjoy the Dec. 16 show from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Both performances will be at Nightingale Hall at the University of Nevada, Reno. You can get free tickets if you donate food to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Drop donations off at MacLean Financial Group, 1325 Airmotive Way #390, or at Heritage Bank, 2330 S. Virginia St. Bring one donation per ticket, up to four tickets.

Tickets and information: www.renowindsymphony.com

Brass tracks

Tuba Christmas Concert

This free, one-hour concert features holiday carols performed by local musicians on tubas, baritones and euphoniums. Bring a few bucks to enjoy the familiar classic carols with hot drinks and snacks. The show starts at 3 p.m. on Dec. 2 at the Wilbur D. May Museum.

Information: www.facebook.com/WilburMayCenter

Jazz hands

Reno Jazz Orchestra

The Reno Jazz Orchestra is wrapping up its 20th anniversary season with several holiday shows. In conjunction with the Pat Esters Gospel Choir, the group will perform Jazz for the Holidays, which brings together jazz, soul and Christmas music. The first two performances will be on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. at Cargo in the Whitney Peak Hotel, and a Dec. 20 performance will be at Olympic Village Inn, Squaw Valley at 7 p.m.

Tickets and information: renojazzorchestra.org

Go for baroque

Tahoe Symphony Orchestra

It’s become a tradition for the Tahoe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus—nicknamed TOCCATA—to spread its holiday joy and talent throughout the region. This year, TOCCATA will perform classic German composer George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.” The piece is an oratorio, which is a composition that combines an orchestra, a choir and soloists, not unlike an opera. As one can expect from Baroque composers, “Messiah” is a full and exciting work of music. Catch it in Tahoe on Dec. 9, 3 p.m., at Cornerstone Church in Incline Village or on Dec. 17, 3:30 p.m., at St. Theresa Catholic Church in South Lake Tahoe. In Reno, the performance is at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. And a Gardnerville show is at 3 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Douglas Community Center.

Tickets and information:www.toccatatahoe.com

Peace on Earth

Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus

The Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus’s mission is to foster acceptance and diversity throughout the state, so it’s fitting that their winter performance is called Let There Be Peace. On Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., the NGMC will perform an array of holiday songs from the classics, such as “Carol of the Bells,” fun and upbeat numbers like “Little Saint Nick,” and several new selections that have not yet been performed for the public.

Tickets and information:nevadagmc.org

Church songs

Trinity Episcopal Church

There’s no shortage of beautiful churches downtown near the Truckee River, and the Trinity Episcopal Church makes for a stunning concert venue. If you’re not quite ready to let go of the holiday spirit, the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s Bach by Candlelight holds onto the last vestiges of Christmas with a beautiful, warm atmosphere and four Bach pieces performed by local musicians. With the new year right around the corner, you’ll still be able to revel in the holiday afterglow. Catch one of two performances on Dec. 27 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets and information: renochamberorchestra.tix.com