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From churches to music clubs, 30-plus Buffalo-area holiday concerts

Judging by the abundance of holiday concerts every year, it appears people are as happy to give the gift of music as they are to receive it.

Whether it’s a local church group performing Handel’s “Messiah” or national music stars like Jim Brickman and Trans-Siberian Orchestra who make a Christmas concert an annual tradition, music is the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

For jazz saxophonist Will Holton, whose “First Day of Christmas” concert is Dec. 1 at the Tralf Music Hall, putting on a holiday concert is his way of sharing his happy childhood memories.

“It was my favorite time of year,” Holton said, recalling his parents playing Christmas music by such artists as Jackson Five and Stevie Wonder. “Those were good times and great memories growing up. I want to play that music for people and share that nostalgic feeling with someone else.”

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Anne Meilhede, chair of the Freudig Singers, said it's simply the magic of the seasonal music that leads to so many holiday concerts.

“Everyone loves Christmas music. They get into the spirit whether they are religious or not," she said as the Freudig Singers prepare for the annual "Christmas Pie" concerts which came about when the group was looking for a way to draw attention to its events during a busy holiday season.

Soprano Deb Fenn suggested a Christmas Pie concert, a popular holiday tradition she was involved with as a member of the Syracuse Vocal Ensemble. That was more than 20 years ago and the Freudig event continues to grow each year.

Fenn changes up her pies every year – she will be again baking her apple-cranberry pie this year. “The combination is unbeatable,” Fenn said. “Where else can you go for pie and Christmas music?”

Here’s a look at just 30 of the diverse holiday musical events you can attend.

Michael Aiello is Lieutenant Audebert, leader of the French soldiers, in the Buffalo Opera Unlimited production of "Silent Night."

Buffalo Opera Unlimited performs “Silent Night.” 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Rockwell Hall Performing Arts Center at SUNY Buffalo State. This World War I holiday wartime drama tells the true story of an unofficial truce when German, French and Scottish soldier stopped fighting to celebrate Christmas Eve. It’s a lovely story any holiday season, but it’s especially poignant now with 2018 being the 100th anniversary of the war’s end.

Artistic director Tim Kennedy leads a cast of 13 with a soldiers’ chorus made up of members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. To reflect the nationalities of the soldiers, the opera is sung in English, French and German with some Latin and English surtitles.

Will Holton’s First Day of Christmas. 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Tralf Music Hall. A mix of holiday music and R&B and jazz performed by Holton, world renown guitarist Tim Bowman, trumpeter Brian Freeman (Taylor Made Jazz), vocalist Carlton Wilcox and the Buffalo Academy of Performing Arts Vocal Symphony.

The Freudig Singers will serve pie with their holiday music at the group's annual "Christmas Pie" concerts.

Christmas Pie concerts with the Freudig Singers, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in Kenmore Presbyterian Church (2771 Delaware Ave.) and 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at Blessed trinity R.C. Church (317 Leroy Ave.). Every year, the Freudig Singers of Western New York, directed by Roland E. Martin, serve up holidays treats of the musical and edible variety.

Ensemble members bake pies that will be raffled at intermission, with complimentary pie and warm beverages served after the concert. Musically, expect to hear selection as diverse as Johann Sebastian Bach and John Lennon. $15.

"Our Grown Up Christmas List," Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, multiple performances. This annual holiday concert of traditional and modern holiday favorites will feature a display of sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Westminster Presbyterian Church (724 Delaware Ave.) with members of the Hutchinson Central Technical High School group Tech Tones; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Unitarian Universalist Church (695 Elmwood Ave.) with the Buffalo Silver Band; and 3 p.m. Dec. 9 at North Presbyterian Church (300 North Forest Road, Williamsville) with the Williamsville North High School Jazz Ensemble. $20.

Lewiston Choraleers, multiple performances of a family friendly program of traditional, contemporary, ethnic and international holiday music.

Dates are 1 p.m. Dec. 1 at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic church (620 Center St., Lewiston), 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at St. John De LaSalle Roman Catholic Church (8477 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls), 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at Messiah Lutheran Church (915 Oneida St., Lewiston). $5; free for ages 12 and younger.

St. Peter's United Church of Christ Christmas Concert, 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at the church (1475 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca). Annual free concert showcases the church's two musical groups Strike the Rock under the direction of Mark Kasprzak and Chancel Choir under the direction of Al Plant.

Organist Joe Donohue, 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Lockport Senior Center (33 Ontario St., Lockport). Presented by the Lockport Theatre Organ Society, Donohue is playing Christmas favorites on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Admission is $6 and refreshments will be served.

Hilbert College Holiday Concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the William E. Swan Auditorium at Hilbert College. Todd Craven conducts. $35.

Horton’s Holiday Hayride, Dec. 4 at the Tralf. The return of Reverend Horton Heat and Junior Brown with the Blasters and Big Sandy. $29.

“Irish Christmas,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Lucarelli’s (1830 Abbott Road, Lackawanna). Andy Cooney leads the night of festive music and dancing with an Irish twist. Cooney, dubbed “Irish America’s Favorite Son,” will be joined by the Irish Pops ensemble and World Class Irish Dancers, along with singer Eimear Reynolds from Rooskey in Co. Roscommon, Ireland. The event benefits Our Lady of Charity Parish. Tickets are $40 and include dinner and a cocktail.

The University at Buffalo Choir, 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (1080 Main St.) and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Slee Hall, North Campus. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols” will lead the annual holiday program by UB's premier choral ensemble.

John Waters, 8 p.m. Dec. 7 at Asbury Hall at Babeville. The legendary film director will surely put a unique twist on the holidays. $40 to $110.

Handel’s “Messiah,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church (4369 South Buffalo St., Orchard Park) and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 in the Baker Memorial United Methodist Church (345 Main St., East Aurora).

The Western New York Chamber Orchestra and the Advent Chorale of Western New York will present two performances of this great holiday tradition with soloists Cristen Gregory, soprano; Faith Baer, mezzo-soprano; Joe Dan Harper, tenor; and Daniel Ihasz, baritone. $10

JoAnn’s Classical Christmas, 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7 and 8 p.m. Dec. 8 in Kleinhans Music Hall. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta has hand-picked a program of her favorites including selections from “The Nutcracker,” the “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah” with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and a suite of Polish carols. The concert also marks the return of Clarence native Charles Wetherbee on violin.

“Holiday Music Under the Dome,” 1 p.m. Dec. 8 at M&T Bank, 1 Fountain Plaza. A free BPO concert with Todd Craven conducting.

Frankie Scinta Holiday Show, 8 p.m. Dec. 8 in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts. Scinta returns home with a performance that looks back at iconic artists through impressions and songs. $58 to $68.

Jewel's Handmade Holiday Tour, 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Seneca Allegany Events Center. It's a family affair as Jewel brings her dad and brothers (Atz, Atz Lee and Nikos Kilcher) for this concert that also including an interactive gifting experience for concertgoers. $35 and up.

Jingle Bell Jazz, doors open at noon Dec. 9 at the Tralf. A portion of the proceeds from this annual concert by The Buffalo Dolls and Ladies First Jazz Big Band will be donated to Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight. $20-$25.

The BPO’s “Jingle Bell Jam,” 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in Kleinhans Music Hall. This is one for the kids. Get there early for activities starting at 1:30 p.m. including an “instrument petting zoo” and photos with characters from the Neglia Ballet Artists’ “The Nutcracker.” Kids can make cards for military personnel, too. After the concert, head to the Mary Seaton Room where there will be milk and cookies with Santa.

Bill Kirchen brings his Honky Tonk Holiday Show to Buffalo. (Photo by Aaron Winters)

Bill Kirchen's Honky Tonk Holiday Show, 5 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Sportsmen's Tavern (326 Amherst St.). If you're looking for holiday cheer of a different sort, this show - with such tunes as "Silent Surfin' Night" and "Truckin' Trees for Christmas" - will fit the bill. $25.

“Carols for a Cause,” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Stella Niagara Auditorium (4421 Lower River Road, Lewiston). This Christmas recital organized by Lewiston Music owner Tony Petrocelli, will feature students performing holiday music. A benefit for the Heart, Love & Soul Food Pantry and Dining Room in Niagara Falls. $5 or $12 family.

The Buffalo Niagara Concert Band, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, Lewiston. Free annual concert includes such classics as “Silent Night” and “A Hallelujah Chorus.” It’s also a chance to enjoy the shrine’s annual holiday light display.

“The Advent Spiral,” 6:45 p.m. Dec. 14 at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church (4369 South Buffalo St., Orchard Park). Performance features music by guitarist Doug Yeomans. A soup and bread dinner starts at 6 p.m.

98 Degrees, 8 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Seneca Niagara Events Center. Pop band will put its own spin on holidays songs – old and new. Reports from the road tell of a concert filled with traditional favorites (“Frosty the Snowman,” "Silent Night”) and modern classics (“All I Want for Christmas is You”).

Gerald Albright’s Family Christmas Tour, 8 p.m. Dec. 14 at Buffalo State Performing Arts Center. The jazz saxophonist brings along his daughter (and singer) Selina Albright on this special tour. $40-$45.

John Morris Russell’s Holidays Pops with the BPO with the BPO Chorus, 10:30 a.m. Dec. 13 and 14, 8 p.m. Dec. 15 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in Kleinhans. Russell is called Mr. Christmas for a reason that will be obvious in this program of seasonal favorites, including gospel-infused classics sung by Adia Dobbins, a holiday sing-along and Vincent O’Neill narrating “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Harmonia Chamber Singers present Christmas by Candlelight, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at St. Joseph University Church (3269 Main St.) and 4 p.m. Dec. 16 at Ss Peter & Paul Church (5480 Main St., Williamsville). Annual program includes choral pieces, Christmas carols and an original setting of “Silent Night” by area composer Stephen Shewan.

The American Legion Band of the Tonawandas, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Mount St. Mary Academy Auditorium (3756 Delaware Ave., Kenmore). Holiday program features soloists Mary Kofahl and Robert Mazierski. $12.

Rick Alviti, 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15 at the Seneca Niagara Casino Bear’s Den. Alviti will sing holiday songs in the tune of Elvis Presley for his show, “That’s The Way It Was.”

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at KeyBank Center. It's not Christmas without TSO. For this 20th anniversary tour, TSO is performing “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” $49.50 to $79.50.

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. bring their "Up, Up & Away! Hits and Holidays" tour to the Riviera Theatre.

Marilyn McCoo and Bill Davis Jr., at 8 p.m. Dec. 15 in the Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). The Grammy Award-winning duo behind The Fifth Dimension, will bring its “Up, Up & Away! Hits and Holidays” tour to town. $39 and $49.

MOB Christmas Event, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Tralf. This annual fundraiser put on by Musicians of Buffalo is for musicians of Buffalo. It's led by Bobby Lebel, Jesse Galante and Billy Sheehan. This year’s guests are McCarthyizm and the Phil Sims MOB Horns. All proceeds benefit Music Is Art.

Jim Brickman: "A Joyful Christmas," 8 p.m. Dec. 22 in the Riviera Theatre. Brickman's 22nd annual holiday tour features a mix of carols, classics and Brickman’s original songs. $29-$49.

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