It’s that time of year again when there’s too much to choose from, and that pleasant problem starts this weekend with choruses, orchestras and a bit of chamber music offering holiday fare.
• The Thursday Musical Club under director Julie Panke opens its centennial season in a program that mixes the classical with the ethnic. Haydn’s “Gloria in Excelsis” and selections from Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” with harpist Karlinda Caldicott will contrast with traditional Basque and Catalan carols.
Other music includes a Tyrolean carol, “Kling, Glöckchen” (“Ring, little bell”), originally written for children, that will be sung in German; a French carol and a few Hanukkah songs.
“Battle Hymn of the Republic” will be sung in remembrance of the 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor — the same date as the concert. The Thursday Belles, a handbell ringing group, under Judy Moore, will also play. Elinore Farnum will, as always, accompany.
7:30 p.m., First Reformed Church of Schenectady. $15, $12. 374-1930.
• The Skidmore Community Chorus and Vocal Chamber Ensemble, under director Katie Gardiner, will offer an evening of psalms; some from the classical tradition and others from less well-known composers.
Choral fans will recognize Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 95 “Kommt, last uns anbeten” and Bach’s Cantata 106 “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit.” They may be interested to discover Sir Hubert Parry’s (1848-1918) “I was glad,” which he wrote in 1902. It is an anthem that has come to be traditionally sung at coronations of the British monarchs.
Ludovico da Viadana’s (1560-1627) “Exultate justi” will also be welcome. Viadana was a Franciscan friar who is credited with being one of the earliest composers to use figured bass, a bass line with notation that indicates the harmonies keyboardists should play.
8 p.m., Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs. $8, $5, free for students and children. 580-5321; www.skidmore.edu/zankel
SATURDAY and SUNDAY
• The Albany Symphony Orchestra’s “Magic of Christmas” is back for the seventh year under music director David Alan Miller and it’s expected to be an extravaganza with almost 250 children participating.
Besides holiday favorites and a singalong, the concert will also feature the Capital District Youth Chorale, students from the Music Studio, the Boland School of Irish Dance and the World of Dance, the Quintessence Bell Choir, a presentation of “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and a possible visit from a North Pole couple.
7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Palace Theatre, Albany. $42 to $25; kids half price. 694-3300; www.albanysymphony.com
• The Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra takes another tack with its annual holiday concert. Besides a selection of holiday tunes that music director Charles Peltz will invite the audience to join in on, the symphony’s children’s chorus, under director Carol Ann Elze-Sussdorff, will sing a few songs including “African Lullaby,” “I Saw Three Ships,” the traditional Israeli song “Haida” and a setting of e.e.cummings’ “little tree.”
The orchestra will also play excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” And as last year, the community will get a surprise when one of its own gets to conduct. For $10, members of the community voted on whether Molly McMaster (a local survivor of colon cancer who has made education about the disease her mission); Peter Aust (president of the Adirondack Chamber of Commerce) or Bill Woodward (executive director of the Charles Wood Theater) will conduct the orchestra in a piece that Peltz chose.
4 p.m., Glens Falls High School. $28, $25, $10. 793-1348; www.gfso.org
• Music at the J will feature a Hanukkah musical celebration with cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, who will accompany herself on the guitar. Besides traditional songs, she will sing contemporary tunes, Yiddish folk gems and funny parodies.
Katchko-Gray is a fourth-generation cantor who, besides founding the Women Cantors’ Network in 1982, composed a songbook called “Katchko” that is used at the Hebrew Union College’s Cantorial School. She has also recorded several discs including “Jewish Soul” (1996) and teaches hazzanut (cantorial performance techniques) via Skype for the European Academy of Jewish Liturgy. She is the cantor at Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, Conn. Refreshments will be served at intermission.
3 p.m., Jewish Community Center of Schenectady, 2565 Balltown Road. $13, $5. 377-8803; www.schenectadyjcc.org.