Renowned conductor Matthew Halls promises us that this year's performance of Handel's Messiah with the Houston Symphony and Houston Symphony Chorus ''is positively bursting with drama from the first note until the last.'' A holiday classic, Messiah includes the much-loved ''Hallelujah Chorus'' and popular ''Rejoice Greatly.'' Halls tells us he has a long history with the work, first as a young boy chorister, then as an adult choral singer (as both a bass and a countertenor). Later he performed the work on both the organ and the harpsichord. And for the last ten years, he's regularly been at the podium conducting Handel's most famous composition. Although he's extremely familiar with the work, he says every time he opens the score, he finds something new. And he's willing to be swept up in the moment while onstage. ''We know where we're going to begin and we have a fair idea of where we're going to end up two and a quarter hours later, but anything can happen along the way.''
Dec. 21-22, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 23, 2:30 p.m., 2012