Megan Hilty (Broadway's Wicked, NBC's Smash) returns to the Houston Symphony for its annual Very Merry Pops extravaganza.
Megan Hilty (Broadway's Wicked, NBC's Smash) returns to the Houston Symphony for its annual Very Merry Pops extravaganza.
Photo courtesy of Houston Symphony

7 Ways to Get Your Holiday Music Fix This Week in Houston

Usher in the holiday season with classic and contemporary Christmas music, including offerings from English composers, 1960s icons, Latin American folk tales and even a nod to Dr. Seuss's most grumpy character, the Grinch.

Why is it that Christmas classics by Baroque and Renaissance English composers have remained perennial favorites while Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" has become about as popular as a fruitcake? Local chamber orchestra company Mercury has done us a solid, creating a holiday program that delivers traditional favorites by John Dowland, William Byrd and others. An Early English Christmas is part of Mercury's nomadic Neighborhood Series, bringing concerts to venues all over town. 8 p.m. November 30, The MATCH, 3400 Main; 2:30 p.m. December 2, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, 11612 Memorial; 7 p.m. December 2, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 5601 South Main; 7 p.m. December 3, Dosey Doe, 25911 I-45 North, Spring. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $9 to $35.

Time to don your best holiday finery because this Christmas concert — at the oh-so-fab John Staub-designed swankienda formerly owned by philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III — is ROCO's gift to the season. Titled ROCO Connections: A Season of Thanks, you won't want to be late to the party for this one, with self-guided tours of Rienzi beginning at 4 p.m. (with up-close ogling of the stunning "Extravagant Objects: Jewelry and Objets d’Art from the Masterson Collection"), a wine reception at 5:30 p.m., and a 6:30 p.m. concert start. Valet parking. 6:30 p.m. November 30, Rienzi, 1406 Kirby. For information, call 713-665-2700 or visit rocohouston.org. $45.

Riding high from successful turns as Glinda the Good Witch (Wicked) and Ivy Lynn (Smash), Megan Hilty returns to the Houston Symphony to sing special arrangements from her new holiday album, A Merry Little Christmas in Very Merry Pops. Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke leads the symphony in all our holiday favorites: "Jingle Bells," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Reineke's trademark take on "Jingle Bell Rock." Now that Theater District parking has returned, we have to agree that "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." 8 p.m. December 1 and 2, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. December 3. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $60 to $158.

One look at headline news and it becomes abundantly clear that freedom, something we take for granted, remains the elusive brass ring for many parts of the world. Da Camera's Jazz Series takes a look back at the past, bringing us the music of Abbey Lincoln, Joni Mitchell and Nina Simone, 1960s change agents who helped move the marker forward in the arenas of civil rights and politics. Contemporary vocalists René Marie, Theo Bleckmann and Alicia Olatuja are ready to step into those big shoes, belting out "Balm in Gilead," "Both Sides Now," "Everything Must Change," "Freedom Day" and "Baltimore" in Songs of Freedom, an ambitious tribute that first debuted at Lincoln Center. 8 p.m. December 1. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $37.50 to $67.50.

He's a mean one, that Mr. Grinch. Dr. Seuss's classic tale, about how a green sourpuss lost his connection with Christmas and decided to spoil the fun for the pointy-nosed residents of Whoville, has remained a favorite book, animated film (narration by Boris Karloff) and a live-action flick (starring Jim Carrey). Rumor has it that Benedict Cumberbatch is working on a CGI adaptation due out next year but, until that happens, we can enjoy back-to-back performances with the Houston Symphony and local high school singers in A Grinch Christmas. We recommend joining in for the sing-along of "Believe" from Polar Express, or else you might begin to turn a little green around the gills yourself. 10 and 11:30 a.m. December 2. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $60 to $158. $25 to $42.

Any gift is beautiful when it is given, and that morality lesson rings true when Opera in the Heights presents the Houston premiere of Lucinda y Las Flores De La Nochebuena (Lucinda and the Christmas Eve Flower), a Mexican Christmas folk tale about a little girl who doesn't have a gift for the Christ child. With lyrics by Joshua McGuire and music by Evan Mack, this children's series offering features Mexican folk tunes and familiar Christmas carols, providing a fresh look at the popular poinsettia plant and the meaning of Christmas. 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. December 2. 1703 Heights Boulevard. For information, call 713-861-5303 or visit operaintheheights.org. $10 to $20.

You won't find "El Burrito Sabanero" at Taco Bell, but you will find this popular Latin American Christmas song about the little donkey from Bethlehem during Houston Latin American Philharmonic's Latin Christmas. This evening of cultural classics kicks off with an art exhibition at 6 p.m., followed by the 7:30 p.m. concert that includes cantares de Navidad (Christmas songs) and the fiery out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new Año Viejo. Guest artists include Argenis Carruyo, Marion Russell-Dickson, Franklin Paz and Robert Gonzalez, led by Artistic Director Glenn Garrido and with a red carpet welcome for Master of Ceremony, Telemundo's Martin Berlanga. 7:30 p.m. December 2, University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-344-7141 or visit houstonlatinphil.org. $15 to $55.

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