Music News & Reviews

Robust season of Holiday Music on tap for Sacramento

Of all of the seasonal music activity on tap this season, none is as unusual or as refreshing as the collaboration between the Harley White Jr. Orchestra and the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus for “Cool Yule: A Big Band Theory.”

Blame it on Facebook.

“I wanted to start a conversation with other arts groups so I went online to build bridges and try to do some outreach just to see what would happen,” said Mike Tentis, board member and singer with the SGMC.

Last summer he “liked” the Harley White Orchestra’s Facebook page. “Harley took the time to like us back,” said Tentis.

“We started talking about our shared love of jazz,” said Tentis. “I love Billy Strayhorn and all the work he did with Ellington. Strayhorn was gay and this led to conversation of other jazz musicians that were gay. So I brought up the idea of doing a collaboration.”

“Strayhorn was the core of the conversation,” concurred White.

“Then we kicked the idea of performing around, and in the flow of things, the chorus picked a program, and I became the logical choice to be the orchestra to accompany them.”

The orchestra will perform two Christmas works by composer Vince Guaraldi and accompany the chorus for all but two of the songs it will perform. Most of the choral music will be nonsecular, said Tentis.

“Even though we sing in a church it is not sacred music,” Tentis said. “This concert is for ‘cultural Christians.’”

This season, there are plenty of choices for music in the Sacramento region. Here are 10 options:

Cool Yule: A Big Band Theory

What: Bassist Harley White Jr . and his Harley White Jr. Orchestra team up with the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus for popular holiday music and jazz music. The orchestra will open and close the show, with traditional seasonal and humorous music performed by both the orchestra and chorus.

Detail: 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday and Dec. 10; 4 p.m., Dec. 8. First United Methodist Church, 2100 J St., Sacramento. $25. (877) 283-1657;

Messiah and more...

What: The Camellia Symphony Orchestra is joined by the Music Society at Cathedral Square and the Valley Choral Society for a holiday concert, featuring Part I of Handel’s “Messiah.”

Details: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, 1017 11th St., Sacramento. $12-$15. (916) 929-6655;

Home for the Holidays

What: The Music in the Mountains chorale will be joined by the Lyman Gilmore Middle School Choir for a concert of holiday music.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7; 2 p.m. Dec. 8. Amaral Center, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley. $5-$32. (530) 265-6124;

Winter’s Eve

What: Sacramento Baroque Soloists play period-style instruments for a program of secular and sacred baroque music.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 14; 3 p.m., Dec. 8. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sacramento, 1430 J St., Sacramento (Saturday); Stegmann Hall, Fair Oaks, 9200 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks (Dec. 8); Harris Center, Folsom Lake College, Folsom (Dec. 14). $25. (916) 705-3806;

The World for Christmas

What: Sacramento Master Singers perform carols from around the world, including the area premiere of Philip Lawson’s “Evermore.”

Details: 3 p.m., Dec. 8 and 15; 8 p.m. Dec. 14; 7 p.m. Dec. 19 and Dec. 22. St. Francis Church, 1066 26th St., Sacramento, except Dec. 22 at Harris Center, Folsom Lake College, Folsom. $20. (916) 788-7464;

Home for the Holidays

What: Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra teams up with the Sacramento Children’s Chorus for holiday music. Soloist Tevye Ditter will perform.

Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 14. Memorial Auditorium, 1515 J St., Sacramento. $30-$45. (916) 536-9065;


What: UC Davis Choral Director Jeffrey Thomas leads the American Bach Choir and the orchestra for Handel’s classic.

Details: 4 p.m. Dec. 15. Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center. UC Davis, Davis. $37-$49. (530) 754-2787;

A Chanticleer Christmas

What: Chanticleer will perform Nativity music from the 13th to 21st centuries, including the premiere of Steven Sametz’s setting of “O Magnum Mysterium.”

Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 18. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, 1017 11th St., Sacramento. $30-$65. (800) 407-1400;


What: The women’s choral ensemble Vox Musica collaborates on Dec. 20 with the Sacramento-based Capella Antiqua and performs two concerts on its own of seasonal secular and sacred music.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21. Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, 1017 11th St., Sacramento (Dec. 20); St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, 3235 Arden Way, Sacramento (Dec. 21); Dixon United Methodist Church, 209 N. Jefferson, Dixon (Dec. 22). $20. (916) 844-2586;

A Swinging Holiday

What: The Count Basie Orchestra will bring its big-band sounds to two special holiday shows in Sacramento. The Harley White Jr. Orchestra will also play a set.

Details: 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m for the Count Basie Orchestra; 6:15 p.m for The Harley White Jr. Orchestra. Dec. 22. Sacramento City College Arts Center, Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento. $15-$30.