London’s Top Five: the Christmas edition

Posted on December 11, 2010 by

It seems ironic that while there is a huge amount of culture on in the weeks before Christmas, most people are desperately trying to get their ducks in a row for the big day of consumption and don’t have the time to enjoy themselves. Also, like a high street shop store front, there is a lot of tat on offer: excruciating pantomimes, amateur-hour children’s’ plays, Raymond Gubbay cheese-fests and the like. So Culture Capital has had a rummage through the seasonal listings and recommends the following in town this Christmas.

Best classical concert
Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace | 12 December

Forget death by a thousand Messiahs, there is plenty more out there. Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall has probably the best Christmas programme of the London arts venues. One of the picks of the bunch is a special concert by Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured) and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra. They are celebrating the tenth birthday of Gardiner’s Bach Cantatas Pilgrimage (now also on disc of course) with a performance of the Advent Cantatas.
Click here for tickets.

Best jazz gig
Ray Gelato & The Giants at Ronnie Scott’s, Frith Street | 13 – 18 December

With a name as potent as some of jazz’s great old-style entertainers, the king of the swingers Ray Gelato plays a week-long residency at Soho’s finest. Expect favourite standards interspersed with the London-born singer and saxophonist’s own material, all delivered up with the finest showmanship to be found in London.
Click here for tickets.

Best world music concert
FELA! at the National Theatre, South Bank | 11 – 23 December

OK, so this has nothing to do with Christmas and continues into the new year, but any time is a good time to see the National’s staging of the Broadway hit-musical. The show, which charts the fantastical life of the late, great Nigerian bandleader and Afrobeat pioneer, has had a broadly positive critical reception since its arrival from the States. One thing is for sure, the music will be peerless.
Click here for tickets.

Best opera
Tannhäuser at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden | 11 December 2010 – 2 January 2011

Again, this has nothing to do with the Royal Opera’s Christmas line-up, but who cares. Up-and-coming conductor Semyon Bychkov leads Tim Albery’s production of Wagner’s opera. Michaela Schuster and Eva-Maria Westbroek appear alongside South African tenor Johan Botha, who plays Tannhäuser.
Click here for tickets.

Best seasonal festival
Spitalfields Music Winter Festival | 13 – 18 December 2010 & 5 – 7 January 2011

Always struggling to fight its way onto the radar of London’s music press, Spitalfields presents an excellent small-scale, community-based festival twice a year. Christmas concerts at this season’s winter festival can be found at the beautiful Christ Church, Spitalfields. Highlights include a Monteverdi concert from early music group La Nuova Musica (13 Dec), a madrigals programme from Cambridge’s Caius College Choir (14 Dec) and a London debut for Icelandic chamber choir Carmina (15 Dec).
Click here for tickets.

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