The season for Handel’s “Messiah” opens this year in central New Jersey with a collision. Both Princeton Pro Musica and the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra perform the sacred oratorio at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 6. Princeton Pro Musica, under the direction of Frances Fowler Slade, appears at Trenton’s War Memorial; the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Mark Trautman, appears at New Brunswick’s State Theater.

Other opportunities to hear — and sing — “Messiah” this season include Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra’s holiday concert on Sunday, December 6, at Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro, which will include a community chorus performing selections from the Christmas section of “Messiah.” On Monday, December 14, you can participate in a “Messiah” community sing at Princeton University Chapel. Boheme Opera’s performance of the Christmas section takes on Saturday, December 19, in Trenton. If you just want to hear excerpts from “Messiah,” along with other holiday music, you can go to Princeton High School’s annual holiday concert on Tuesday, December 22, at the Princeton University Chapel (choir alumni are traditionally invited up at the end of the concert for the “Hallelujah Chorus”).

With its “Messiah” Princeton Pro Musica carries on a tradition begun in 1982. Soloists this year are Julianne Baird, soprano; Alyson Harvey, alto; Scott Murphree, tenor; and Matthew Burns, bass. Orchestral accompaniment is provided by the instrumentalists who traditionally appear with PPO. The auditioned chorus consists of almost 100 members.

The New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra is exploring what may become a tradition. For the second year its “Messiah” appears as a formal component of the State Theater’s roster of offerings, this time using a countertenor as one of the four soloists. The NBCO’s soloists are Jolie Greenleaf, soprano; Drew Minter, countertenor; Frederick Urrey, tenor; and Peter Becker, bass. The chorus is the 50-member strong choir of New Brunswick’s Christ Church, where conductor Trautman is music director.

Trautman expands on his use of countertenor Minter. “Drew Minter is really a treasure,” Trautman says. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard such elegant Handel singing as his.”

Handel’s “Messiah” gives conductors an outline for performance, rather than a fixed recipe, Trautman explains in a telephone interview from his Christ Church office. “Handel wrote ‘Messiah’ in 22 days,” he says. “He had no time to write out a complete score. Baroque performers knew what was expected of them without having everything spelled out.”

Aiming at a baroque style performance, he approaches the score as if he were a contemporary of Handel. “Large portions of ‘Messiah’ are scored for only strings and continuo,” Trautman says. “The score seems empty. Clearly, something is missing. I wrote out the parts to be played by the missing instruments and will be putting two trumpets and tympani at the front of the stage.”

During the course of our conversation, Trautman illustrates his points by singing excerpts from “Messiah” and drawing on his ample knowledge of history, theology, and music.

The choices for the conductor of “Messiah” are amplified, he says, because no definitive edition of the manuscript exists. “Rag paper was expensive, so Handel made no attempt to publish.” Written in 1741, “Messiah” had its premiere in 1742, and was first published in 1767, seven years after Handel died. For the State Theater performance Trautman has chosen the latest edition of “Messiah,” Clifford Bartlett’s highly-regarded 1998 version.

Handel complicated the puzzle of an authentic edition by revising and reworking “Messiah” until the end of his life, adding arias and choruses, Trautman explains. In addition, the composer re-assigned the voices for which a particular aria was written, changing the register as necessary.

“Handel wrote and rewrote ‘Messiah’ to create a big role for the famous castrato Gaetano Guadagni,” says Trautman. “He was a sensational performer.” In 1750, for instance, Handel reset the aria “But who may abide,” which by that time had already had two different configurations for bass voice; one as a recitative, and then as a minuet. To show off Guadagni’s flashy technique, Handel transposed portions of the piece up an octave and devised a new virtuosic setting of the text.

“Because no definitive edition of ‘Messiah,’ exists, conductors pick and choose,” Trautman says. “I’m using the countertenor a lot, often for arias usually sung by others. ‘Messiah’ is not essentially a narrative; it’s not really an oratorio since it doesn’t have a story. The soloists do not play particular roles in a drama, so it’s possible to substitute one voice for another.

“For last year’s performance we used four soloists, two women and two men,” Trautman says. “In previous years we’ve used more than four soloists. This is our first with countertenor.”

Trautman’s “Messiah” uses a great deal of improvisation, harkening back to practices of the baroque period. In the State Theater presentation, the harpsichordist improvises, working from a figured bass. He has no fixed score, but invents his part on the spur of the moment, using the single bass line provided by the composer, adding harmonies designated by the composer, and inventing his own melodies. Vocalists, as well as the keyboard player, improvise. “All the vocal solo passages end in an improvised cadenza,” Trautman says. “I won’t know what that is until I hear it in performance.

“I’m tremendously proud of the choir,” Trautman says about his Christ Church choristers, whose basic undertaking is the weekly Sunday service for Christ Church. “They sing very difficult literature from week to week and yet will have sung two major works with orchestra this fall. They did Haydn’s ‘Lord Nelson Mass’ in October and are putting on ‘Messiah’ less than two months later. Many churchgoers don’t realize how much time choristers put in on a weekly basis to make so much beautiful music. Where else can you hear excellent choral music live and for free?”

I ask Trautman what he worries about as the conductor of “Messiah” and he quips, “That everybody turns up on time.” Having planned a musical strategy, selected soloists, groomed orchestra and chorus, and solved problems of balance in advance of a performance, the conductor knows that much of the heavy lifting is over. He can relax and be lighthearted.

“Seriously, though,” Trautman says, “keeping the strings quiet enough not to overpower the voices can be a problem. This performance uses modern instruments. The strings need clear articulation and a light sound for a baroque style performance. In the baroque period, bows were shorter, and you couldn’t play in the heavy legato style of the 19th century.”

The New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra’s December 6 “Messiah” is what Trautman calls “a somewhat truncated version,” with selections from the three parts of the work. “The performance is intended to provide a window into the piece and to capture the feeling of the work,” he says. “People are busy just before Christmas.”

Trautman points out that in “Messiah” Handel incorporates musical quotations from his own works as well of those of his predecessors. I am struck by the fact that the question of re-using musical material has turned up in two separate discussions I have heard recently, and that none of the discussants found fault with the practice.

New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, invited to participate in the first public program arranged by Derek Bermel, artist in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, stressed the evolution of music by composers who mimicked their predecessors. Tommasini, referring to Beethoven’s learning from Haydn’s compositions, put words in Beethoven’s mouth and supposed that Beethoven might have said, “You want a Haydn sonata? I’ll write you a real Haydn sonata.”

Baritone Thomas Hampson, artist in residence for the New York Philharmonic, expressed his doubt that plagiarism ought to be a concern in music. The notion of intellectual property is peculiar, Hampson said, asking rhetorically “How can you own a piece of music?”

Conductor Trautman contributes his view of the matter by pointing out that even when a great composer writes in the style of an earlier composer his own characteristics come through. “You can always tell it’s Beethoven,” Trautman says. “The transitions are distinctive.”

Trautman, 49, was born in southern Maryland, about an hour from Washington, DC. His musical roots start with his mother, who sang in a choir, and his father, who played in his high school band. Trautman notes that he is the same age as the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2010.

Having heard organ in church when he was young, Trautman was fascinated by the instrument’s energy and power. He taught himself to play organ when he was in high school. “I had a good background in piano,” he says, “so it was just a matter of learning the pedals.

“I’ve always had a church job since I was 16,” Trautman says. After graduating from St. Mary’s College of Maryland as a piano major, he worked with handicapped children ages 3 to 21. “I was married at 19, and I needed a job,” he says. He is now divorced. His partner is Ben Sifuentes, a member of the Rutgers University Spanish faculty.

In his late 20s Trautman returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in organ performance from Towson University in 1993. Two years later he earned a master’s degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. Westminster’s late Eugene Roan was among his teachers. Studies in Leipzig, Germany, followed.

From 1996 to 2001 he served as organist at Temple Anshe Emeth in New Brunswick. He is currently a member of the music faculty at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.

As director of music at New Brunswick’s Christ Church, Trautman coordinates more than 40 concerts a year on the church’s unique Richard Fowkes & Company mechanical action pipe organ, which was installed in 2002 (U.S. 1, May 15, 2002).

Appointed to lead the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra in October, 2004, Trautman met the challenge of conducting a program before the end of the year. “I chose ‘Messiah,’” he says. “It has become our signature piece. The State Theater performance will be the sixth time that the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra does ‘Messiah.’ We’re incorporating the institution ‘Messiah’ into the NBCO tradition. It’s the best-known piece in western music. Everybody knows Messiah’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ even if they don’t know Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ or his Fifth Symphony.”

Messiah, Christ Church, State Theater. Sunday, December 6, 3 p.m. New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra and Christ Church Choir. Mark Trautman conducts. Soloists are Jolle Greenleaf, Drew Minter, Frederick Urrey, and Peter Becker. $32. 732-545-6262 or www.christchurchnewbrunswick.org.

Messiah, Princeton Pro Musica, Patriots Theater, Trenton War Memorial. Sunday, December 6, 3 p.m. Handel’s famous work. Julianne Baird, soprano; Alyson Harvey, alto; Scott Murphree, tenor; and Matthew Burns, bass. $25 to $55. 609-683-5122 or www.princetonpromusica.org.

Holiday Concert, Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra, Princeton Alliance Church, 20 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. Sunday, December 6, 7 p.m. A highlight of the concert will be Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, with the orchestra’s concertmaster, Daphne Su, performing the violin solo. Also featured will be a community chorus performing selections from Handel’s Messiah. $15; $12 seniors; $10 students. 609-790-9559 or www.bravuraphil.org.

Messiah Sing, Princeton University Chapel, Washington Road. Monday, December 14, 7:30 p.m. Community sing with organ, strings, and trumpet. Bring a score or borrow one at the door. Eric Plutz on organ. Penna Rose conducts. $5. 609-258-3654.

Messiah, Boheme Opera, Immaculate Conception Church, 540 Chestnut Avenue, Trenton. Saturday, December 19, 7:30 p.m., doors open 6:30 p.m. The Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah with soloists soprano Sungji Kim, mezzo soprano Susan Rheingans, tenor Brett Colby, and bass-baritone Kevin Grace, Boheme Opera Chorus, Central Jersey Choral Society, and members of the Boheme Opera Orchestra under the baton of Joseph Pucciatti.Before and after the performance, a holiday family-style dinner is being offered by Peasants Restaurant, 1701 Hamilton Avenue, Hamilton, with seatings at 5 or 9 p.m. $30; $60 for dinner and concert. 609-581-7200 or www.bohemeopera.com.

Holiday Concert, Princeton High School Choirs and Orchestra, Princeton University Chapel. Tuesday, December 22, 7:30 p.m. Annual concert featuring all the vocal ensembles and the orchestra. PHS Choir alumni are invited up at the end to join in the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah and “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

Holiday Music

Thursday, December 3

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. Through Sunday, December 20. $29. 8 p.m.

That’s Amore: Dean Martin & Friends Holiday Special, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, Memorial Drive, Trenton, 609-984-8400. www.thewarmemorial.com. $25 to $65. 7 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Princeton Theological Seminary, Miller Chapel, Princeton Theological Seminary, 609-497-7890. www.ptsem.edu. Handbell concert features one of the world’s largest handbells, on loan from Malmark, Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of handbells. Free and open to the public. 8 p.m.

Friday, December 4

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Christmas Brass and Champagne, Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, PA, 215-493-6500. www.crossingvineyards.com. Nassau Brass ensemble performs holiday classics and carols, followed by champagne and dessert. $35. Reservations required. 7:30 p.m.

Musical Celebration of Christmas, Riverside Symphonia, Church of St. John, 44 Bridge Street, Lambertville, 609-397-7300. www.riversidesymphonia.org. $20 to $35. 8 p.m.

Holiday Jazz, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Jazz pianist and composer Laurie Altman with Scott Lee on bass, Andrew Rathbun on tenor and soprano sax, and Nat Radley on electric guitar. Elem Eley, baritone; Clifford Adams Jr., trombone; and Fuma Sacra conducted by Andrew Megill, also perform. Cool Yule Jazz was cancelled due to illness. $20. 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 5

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Nine Lessons and Carols, First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, 120 East State Street, Trenton, 609-396-1712. www.old1712.org. Choral prelude begins at 5:30 p.m.; service begins at 6 p.m. Music by Gardner, Charpentier, Willcocks, Rutter, and Pearsall. Choir, bell ensemble, and brass. 5:30 p.m.

City Winds Trio, Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-9529. Holiday concert featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Christmas carols, Chanukah and Kwanzaa songs. Musicians include Chrispian Fordham on flute, Meredyth Coleman on oboe, Yuki Higashi on bassoon, and Christopher J. Haberi on piano. 3 p.m.

Musical Celebration of Christmas, Riverside Symphonia, Church of St. John, 44 Bridge Street, Lambertville, 609-397-7300. www.riversidesymphonia.org. $20 to $35. 8 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Westminster Concert Bell Choir. 8 p.m.

Sunday, December 6

Holiday Concert, Bravura Philharmonic Orchestra, Princeton Alliance Church, 20 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, 609-790-9559. www.bravuraphil.org. A highlight of the concert will be Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade, with the orchestra’s concertmaster, Daphne Su, performing the violin solo. Also featured will be a community chorus performing selections from Handel’s Messiah. $15; $12 seniors; $10 students. 7 p.m.

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 3 p.m.

Hodie!, Cantus Novus, Trinity Episcopal Church, New Hope, PA, 215-968-3294. www.cantusnovus.org. An evening of festive music by choir, organ, celeste, and brass. Program includes Gabrieli, Palestrina, Poulenc, Handel, Buxtehude, and Willcocks, among others. $20. Also, Saturday, December 7, at Newtown Presbyterian Church, Newtown, PA. 8 p.m.

Handel’s Messiah, Christ Church, State Theater, 732-545-6262. www.christchurchnewbrunswick.org. New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra and Christ Church Choir. Mark Trautman conducts. Soloists are Jolle Greenleaf, Drew Minter, Frederick Urrey, and Peter Becker. $32. 3 p.m.

Messiah, Princeton Pro Musica, Patriots Theater, Trenton War Memorial, 609-683-5122. www.princetonpromusica.org. Handel’s famous work. Julianne Baird, soprano; Alyson Harvey, alto; Scott Murphree, tenor; and Matthew Burns, bass. $25 to $55. 3 p.m.

Advent Concert of Music and Poetry, Princeton University Chapel, Washington Road, 609-258-3654. Princeton University Chapel Choir present music of Howells, Whitacre, Rutter, Chilcott, Powell, and Victoria. Eric Plutz on organ. Penna Rose conducts. Free. 2:30 p.m.

Spectrum Concert, Princeton University Chapel, Washington Road, 609-258-3654. “And Was Incarnat,” music of the season presented by the Chapel Choir. Penna Rose conducts. Free. 2:30 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Rider University, Gill Memorial Chapel, Rider University, Lawrenceville, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Rider University Chorale and Rider University Choir. 2 p.m.

Musical Celebration of Christmas, Riverside Symphonia, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Doylestown, PA, 609-397-7300. www.riversidesymphonia.org. $20 to $35. 4 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Westminster Concert Bell Choir. 4 p.m.

Monday, December 7

Hodie!, Cantus Novus, Newtown Presbyterian Church, Newtown, PA, 215-968-3294. www.cantusnovus.org. An evening of festive music by choir, organ, celeste, and brass. Program includes Gabrieli, Palestrina, Poulenc, Handel, Buxtehude, and Willcocks, among others. $20. 8 p.m.

Tuesday, December 8

Mannheim Steamroller, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. www.StateTheatreNJ.org. Multi-media holiday show featuring electric bass and synthesizers and classic arrangements from nine CDs of Christmas music. $42 to $77. 8 p.m.

Wednesday, December 9

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 2 p.m.

Carols of Many Nations, Princeton Theological Seminary, Miller Chapel, Princeton Theological Seminary, 609-497-7890. www.ptsem.edu. A wide array of carols and anthems from different nations and cultures reflects the diverse representation of students at the seminary. Musical services followed by caroling by candlelight on the seminary’s quadrangle. Open to the public. Free. 3 p.m. 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 10

Holiday Concert, Lawrence Senior Center, 30 Darrah Lane East, Lawrenceville, 609-844-7048. Lawrence Comunity Concert Band in concert. 7 p.m.

Friday, December 11

Princeton Garden Statesmen, Allentown/Upper Freehold Municipal Alliance, Allentown Presbyterian Church, 20 High Street, 609-570-5376. www.ufadrugalliance.org. The 40-member group sings well-known songs including holiday songs and traditional favorites, all in four-part a cappella barbershop style. Post concert refreshments served. Benefit to prevent alcoholism and drug abuse in the community. $10. 7:30 p.m.

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Holiday Jazz with Eric Mintel, Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, PA, 215-493-6500. www.crossingvineyards.com. Eric Mintel Quartet performs holiday favorites and original jazz compositions, followed by champagne and dessert. $45. Reservations required. 7:30 p.m.

Opera New Jersey, Grounds For Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, 609-689-1089. www.groundsforsculpture.org. HolidayFare, a holiday concert for all ages features a wide variety of sacred and secular music and a sing-along. Free with admission. 7 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Raritan Valley Community College, Welpe Theater, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg. www.rvccarts.edu. The RVCC Chorale will perform Vivaldi’s Gloria, Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” Renaissance Christmas masterpieces, and traditional carols. $10. 8 p.m.

Kenny G. Holiday Tour, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. www.StateTheatreNJ.org. Kenny G on saxophone with holiday classics. $37 to $77. 8 p.m.

An Evening of Readings and Carols, Westminster Choir College, Princeton University Chapel, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Westminster’s choirs, with organ and brass. Also Saturday, December 12. 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 12

Princeton Girlchoir, Barnes & Noble, MarketFair, West Windsor, 609-716-1570. The girlchoir will perform holiday and other seasonal selections. Also at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. “Meet the Director” reception between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. performances. 11 a.m.

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Festival of Christmas Music, Bucks County Choral Society, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 301 North Main Street, Doylestown, 215-598-6142. www.buckschoral.org. $15. 8 p.m.

Elite Strings Holiday Winter Concert, Community Conservatory, Lansdale Center for the Performing Arts, 311 West Main St., Lansdale, PA., 215-340-7979. www.communityconservatory.org. ELITE strings ensembles and orchestras. 2 p.m.

Holiday Concert, East Brunswick Library, Jean Walling Civic Center, 732-390-6767. www.ebpl.org. “Melodies of the Season,” a concert by the Central Jersey Wind Ensemble. 7 p.m.

Christmas in Carol and Sing, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Kirkpatrick Chapel, New Brunswick, 732-932-7511. www.masongross.rutgers.edu. Rutgers Glee Club and Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir. $20. 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Gatlin Brothers Christmas, Raritan Valley Community College, Route 28, North Branch, 908-725-3420. www.rvccarts.edu. $40 and $45. 8 p.m.

Scrooge in Concert, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. www.StateTheatreNJ.org. Charles Dickens’ classic in a semi-staged, fully-costumed musical production, featuring a cast of 30 singers, dancers, and musicians. Music by Philip David Stern. $32 to $52. 2 and 7 p.m.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Princeton Singers, Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street, Princeton, 866-846-7464. www.princetonsingers.org. Dylan Thomas’s classic Christmas story of misrule and mayhem. Music includes traditional holiday favorites and carols. $25. For ages 12 and up. 6 p.m.

An Evening of Readings and Carols, Westminster Choir College, Princeton University Chapel, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Westminster’s choirs, with organ and brass. 8 p.m.

Sunday, December 13

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 3 p.m.

“Lully, Lulla: Carols and Anthems for Christmas,” Richardson Auditorium, 609-258-9220. www.princeton.edu/utickets. Princeton University Glee Club and Chamber Choir with Robert Isaacs, conductor. Music of Samuel Scheidt, Felix Mendelssohn, James Bassi, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Tim Keeler ‘11, and others. Guest ensemble: Princeton Katzenjammers. $15 for general public; $8 for students (Tiger Tickets accepted). 3 p.m.

Festival of Christmas Music, Bucks County Choral Society, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 301 North Main Street, Doylestown, 215-598-6142. www.buckschoral.org. $15. 4 p.m.

“A Marriott Family Christmas”, Capital Singers of Trenton, Ballroom, Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard, Trenton, 609-882-3228. www.capitalsingers.org. Concert with the Capital Singers of Trenton with a special visit from Santa. Conducted by Richard M. Loatman. $8. 3 p.m.

“Christmas in the British Isles” Prelude Concert, Community Conservatory, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 301 N. Main Street, Doylestown, PA, 215-340-7979. www.communityconservatory.org. In collaboration with the Bucks County Choral Society. ELITE strings ensembles and orchestras. 4 p.m.

Holiday Concert, Doylestown Presbyterian Church, 127 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA, 215-348-3531. www.dtownpc.org. Candlelit services of Lessons and Carols with orchestra, choir, and bells. Reception follows. 4 p.m.

Christmas Holiday Spectacular, Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra, Patriots Theater, War Memorial, Trenton, 609-396-5522. www.trentonsymphony.org. 3 p.m.

Christmas in Carol and Sing, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Kirkpatrick Chapel, New Brunswick, 732-932-7511. www.masongross.rutgers.edu. Rutgers Glee Club and Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir. $20. 5 and 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Classics, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, State Theater, New Brunswick, 800-ALLEGRO. www.njsymphony.org. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan joins the orchestra for classic holiday music, selections from his album, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and Irish favorites. The New Jersey Tap Ensemble performs Herbert’s March of the Toys. $20 to $82. 3 p.m.

Christmas Spectacular, Princeton Brass Band, Yvonne Theater, Rider University, 609-895-5504. www.princetonbrassband.org. Family concert features holiday favorites. Donations invited. 2 p.m.

Monday, December 14

Messiah Sing, Princeton University Chapel, Washington Road, 609-258-3654. Community sing with organ, strings, and trumpet. Bring a score or borrow one at the door. Eric Plutz on organ. Penna Rose conducts. $5. 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday,

December 16

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 2 p.m.

Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols, Princeton University Chapel, Washington Road, 609-258-3654. . Music by Chapel Choir, Glee Club, and a cappella groups. Free. 7:30 p.m.

Chanukah Concert, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. CMENC Singers perform “Rock of Ages: A Concert for Chanukah.” $20. 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 17

Holiday Concert, outside Ten Thousand Villages store, Princeton Shopping Center. Joining voices to support artisans in developing countries, 40 youth from the Princeton Area Homschool Choir will perform holiday songs. Also a sing-along. A portion of the evening’s purchases at Ten Thousand Villages will benefit the choir, now in its 10th anniversary year. For information E-mail homeschool choir@aol.com. 7 p.m.

Friday, December 18

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Feliz Navidad, Crossing Vineyards and Winery, 1853 Wrightstown Road, Washington Crossing, PA, 215-493-6500. www.crossingvineyards.com. Karen Rodriguez Latin Jazz Ensemble presents evening of holiday music Salsa-style, followed by champagne and dessert. $40. Reservations required. 7:30 p.m.

An American Holiday, Pennington Presbyterian Church, 13 South Main Street, Pennington, 609-208-9991. . Conrad Susa’s “Carols and Lullabies: Christmas in the Southwest” for chors, harp, guitar, and marimba. Carols by American composers from Colonial times to present. “Magnificat” by Theodore Pachelbel. “It’s Happy Holiday Time,” by Ken Guilmartin. Christmas music from American Films. Rochelle Ellis, soprano soloist. 8 p.m.

An American Holiday, Voices Chorale, Pennington Presbyterian Church, 13 South Main Street, Pennington, 609-637-9383. www.voiceschorale.org. Carols by American composers from Colonial times to the present. Rochelle Ellis,soprano, solos. $18. 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 19

Voices of Angels, American Boychoir, Princeton University Chapel, 888-BOYCHOIR. www.americanboychoir.org. Traditional holiday favorites. $15 to $32. 8 p.m.

Handel’s Messiah, Boheme Opera, Immaculate Conception Church, 540 Chestnut Avenue, Trenton, 609-581-7200. www.bohemeopera.com. $30. 7:30 p.m.

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 8 p.m.

Holiday Concert, PSO Pops, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, 609-497-0020. www.princetonsymphony.org. An afternoon of holiday favorites, symphonic classics, and the annual sing-along. Also featured, the New Jersey Tap Ensemble and the Princeton High School Choir. $35; $20 children. 4 p.m.

An American Holiday, Voices Chorale, St. Paul Church, 214 Nassau Street, Princeton, 609-637-9383. www.voiceschorale.org. Carols by American composers from Colonial times to the present. Rochelle Ellis, soprano, solos. $18. 8 p.m.

Amid the Winter’s Snow, Westminster Choir College, Bristol Chapel, Princeton, 609-921-2663. www.rider.edu. Westminster Conservatory Community Chorus and Chamber Choir. $15. 8 p.m.

Sunday, December 20

Winter Wonderland, American Boychoir, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University, 888-BOYCHOIR. www.americanboychoir.org. Traditional holiday favorites and audience sing-a-long. $20 to $42. Boys in grades 3 to 7 are encouraged to audition after the concert. No preparation or experience needed. 4 p.m.

Winter Musicale, Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, 215-785-0100. www.brtstage.org. Holiday music. $29. 3 p.m.

Thursday, December 31

New Year’s Eve Concert, Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra, Patriots Theater, War Memorial, Trenton, 609-396-5522. www.trentonsymphony.org. $25 to $65. 8 p.m.

Salute to Vienna, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469. www.StateTheatreNJ.org. Musicians, singers, and dancers from the Vienna City Ballet present waltzes, polkas, and operetta. $47 to $97. Optional New Year’s Eve party at the Heldrich Hotel across the street. 6 p.m.

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