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Sugarplum Rhythms
The Friday Five for Dec. 7

Early Music Now presents the Boston Camerata.

#5: The Bel Canto Chorus at the Basilica of St. Josaphat’s.

Why? Because if you want your holiday celebration to have a solid foundation, but include all the whistles and bells (literally), this is your ticket. Richard Hynson celebrates his 25th season with the Bel Canto Chorus this year, and the group’s annual Christmas Concert is one of its most popular offerings. The chorus is joined by the Bel Canto Boy Choirs and the Stained Glass Brass to offer music both familiar and fresh, including John Rutter’s inspiring Gloria. Silk screens by iconic Milwaukee artist Ruth Grotenrath will be on display before and after the concert, courtesy of the David Barnett Gallery.

#4: A Kick in the Dickens at Alchemist Theatre.

Why? Because you’ve lived through enough Christmases to be familiar with all the holiday clichés, from Tiny Tim to George Bailey to Andy Williams family sing-a-longs. So bring your laundry list to the Alchemist, and watch as its creative acting minds create a new Christmas story spontaneously from your suggestions. Want to see what happens if Snoopy hooks up with the Abominable Snowman? These folks can make it happen. Why do you think they call themselves “Alchemists”?

#3: Angel Luis Torruellas at Latino Arts.

Why? Because he’s called the Frank Sinatra of Puerto Rico. But instead of singing to the swinging beat of Nelson Riddle or Count Basie, his bomba y plena styles float over driving three-against-two Latin rhythms. To back him, Latino Arts has assembled an impressive roster of musicians, including cuatro player Orlando Santiago (otherwise known as El Mostro—The Monster). The perfect concert for those looking for a little Latin fire in the season.

#2: Early Music Now presents The Boston Camerata at St. Joseph Center Chapel.

Why? Because the Boston Camerata is one of the most respected and acclaimed early music ensembles in the world, and its Christmas program is a lovely blend of traditions from Gregorian Chant to music and carols from all parts of the Medieval and early Renaissance world. The group is joined by Sharon Hansen and her stellar group, The Milwaukee Choral Artists. There’s even a chance for a few sing alongs, though we don’t expect “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” will be one of them.

#1: The Milwaukee Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Marcus Center.

Why? Because it’s got sugarplum fairies and a Handsome Prince, but it’s also got one of the most beautiful and charming ballet scores ever written—one that deserves to be heard in its entirety. Ballet director and choreographer Michael Pink is an adept storyteller, and this annual production is more than a tradition. It’s a chance for members of the impressive company to strut their soubretsauts and dig deep into the classical style and characters of Tchaikovsky’s classic.

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