CRESTVIEW — With cards to write and send, presents to buy and wrap, fruitcakes to re-gift, decorations to put up and all the rest of the Christmas hubbub, it’s easy for the holiday’s message to get lost among the frenzy.
Fortunately, opportunities abound to relax and let the season’s joy overflow at the north county’s many live Christmas concerts. Student, community and professional groups offer a bounty of holiday music, with many performances free or at a small cost.
• ‘Carols and Candlelight’
Nov. 30 and Dec. 2• Okaloosa Chamber Singers, under Dr. Marilyn Overturf’s direction, celebrates its 15th season with Christmas concerts at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Trinity United Methodist Church on Racetrack Road in Fort Walton Beach, and 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at First United Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs. The DeFuniak Springs concert is sponsored by the Florida Chautauqua, which will serve refreshments after the concert.
Selections bring the season’s warmth and spirit through the carols and arrangements of John Rutter, Mark Hayes and J.S. Bach, including his Advent Cantata 140, “Wake, Awake,” which a chamber orchestra will accompany. There will be audience participation in carol singing, including “O Come all Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night” and “Deck the Halls.”
The concerts are free, with a suggested $15 donation per person or $25 per couple.
Contact Overturf, 682-9651 or firstname.lastname@example.org, for more details. Visit okaloosachambersingers.org to hear performances.
• Baker School band Christmas concert
Dec. 4 • The Baker School middle school band presents its annual Christmas concert of holiday favorites at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. Admission is free.
• Holiday Pops Concert
Dec. 7• The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra will celebrate the holiday season in festive style at 7:30 p.m. with a Holiday Pops Concert featuring light classics, pops selections and the ever-popular carol sing-a-longs. The Northwest Florida Symphony Chorale and the Belle Voci women’s vocal ensemble will join the orchestra for this popular annual event held in the Mainstage theater of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on the Niceville campus of Northwest Florida State College.
The concert continues the orchestra’s 25th season celebration and includes works such as “Deck the Halls,” “Let it Snow,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” “Sanctus (Processional),” “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Veni Veni” and George Frederic Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
Tickets are available by phone or web for $22.50 each for adults or $16 for youth age 18 and younger and active duty military. Current NWFSC students may request one free ticket per student ID in person from the Box Office. Online ticket sales are available through www.mattiekellyartscenter.org.
• Davidson Winter Concert
Dec. 11• The Davidson Middle School chorus performs its annual Winter Concert at 6:30 p.m. in the Crestview High School Pearl Tyner Auditorium. Admission is free.
Selections, some of which will spotlight solo vocalists, include “The Three O’Clock Rehearsal of Combined Band and Chorus for The Very Merry Christmas Musicale,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Island Noel,” “Let it Snow!,” “Candle in Your Heart” and “Carol of the Bells.”
• Baker high school band Christmas concert
Dec. 11• The Baker School high school band presents its annual Christmas concert of holiday favorites at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free.
• Crestview High School chorus Christmas concert
Dec. 13• The 130-voice Crestview High School chorus’ Christmas Concert is at 7 p.m. in the Pearl Tyner Auditorium. An eclectic program of traditional and contemporary seasonal tunes, plus other choral works, will comprise the evening.
Included will be the humorous but challenging “Fruit Cake” song. The concert concludes with the massed chorus and alumni performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.” Tickets — $5 adults, $2 students — are available at the door.
• ‘A Victorian Christmas’
Dec. 13 •A festive night of Victorian holiday traditions with Christmas carols, dancing, desserts, wassail and a special visit from Father Christmas will be 7:30 p.m. in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center’s McIlroy Gallery at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville.
“A Victorian Christmas” features the college’s 26-voice mixed Madrigals Singers ensemble, the women’s Belle Voci ensemble, and the 12-member NWFSC dance ensemble.
This event is sold out but no-show tickets might be available at the door. Tickets are $25 each. All proceeds go to the NWFSC Fine Arts Scholarship fund.
• Schola Cantorum Christmas concert
Dec. 17• Schola Cantorum, the Northwest Florida State College-based “school of singing,” will present its annual Christmas concert series, including a 7 p.m. performance at First Presbyterian Church of Crestview. The ensemble comprises trained vocalists from throughout the county under Dr. John Leatherwood’s direction.
The group will perform a repertoire of seasonal music from several centuries, including “The Wexford Carol,” “Sir Christèmas” and “Amid the Calm of Winter’s Rest.” Selections also include “As with Gladness Men of Old” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Admission is free, though a donation will be accepted.
Contact Leatherwood, 729-6071 or email@example.com, for more details.
• Baker School choral concert
Dec. 18• The Baker School middle and high school choruses will present their Christmas concert of seasonal music at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. Admission is free.
• Big Red Machine Christmas concert
Dec. 18 • The 280-member Crestview High School band will present its annual Christmas concert at 7 p.m. in Pearl Tyner Auditorium. Expect seasonal favorites and other orchestral musical treats from the band’s several ensembles, including swinging holiday sounds by the jazz band. Admission is free.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.