‘Tis the season for performing arts! This month’s picks include selections that will lift your spirits and bring you joy during this very special time of year.

The Metropolitan Opera in association with PBS and The WNET Group presents
Great Performances at the Met:  Die Zauberflöte
Premieres beginning Sunday, December 10, at 2pm on PBS (check local listings)
Director Simon McBurney, making his Met debut, creates a new Met staging for the first time in 19 years, using projections, sound effects, and acrobatics. Nathalie Stutzmann conducts the orchestra in a raised pit, allowing the musicians to interact with the cast and be visible to the audience.  The cast includes soprano Erin Morley as Pamina, tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Tamino, baritone Thomas Oliemans in his Met debut as Papageno, soprano Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, and bass Stephen Milling as Sarastro. Ben Bliss hosts.
Learn more and watch a preview on PBS.org

The Rob Mathes Holiday Concert
December 15, 16, and 17
The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College
Every December, arranger, composer, producer, director, and musician extraordinaire Rob Mathes rings in the holiday season with a spectacular celebration that features Mathes, his all-star band, and a choir of saints and friends. This year’s concerts are celebrating 30 years of holiday concerts and are in honor and memory of Rob’s loyal friend and fan, Rabbi Mark Golub.
L’Chayim: Composer Rob Mathes
In this 2016 video, Rob Mathes discusses his musical journey, writing Chanukah songs for his annual Holiday Concert, and sings “Light In The Window” with his daughter Sarah. With Rabbi Mark S. Golub.
Watch “L’Chayim: Composer Rob Mathes” on YouTube

Westchester Philharmonic: Clash of the Cellos
December 17, 3pm
The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College
Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5…plus works of the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Saint-Saëns, Borodin, Satie, Sibelius, and much more.
Watch and listen as Leonard Bernstein conducts Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 on YouTube

An annual CMS favorite to get you into the holiday spirit! 
CMS Front Row Mainstage: The Brandenburg Concertos
Experience the peerless artistry of CMS’s annual Brandenburg Concertos. This season presented with newly curated full-length HD concerts featuring archival video recordings woven together into never-before-heard concert pairings. Intermission will feature a Q&A with violist Paul Neubauer, double bassist Joseph Conyers, pianist Hyeyeon Park, and horn player Jennifer Montone.
Watch and listen to The Brandenburg Concertos on YouTube

And a December song from Purchase College’s own Grammy-winning alum
Samara Joy – “Warm in December”
Featuring The McLendon Family. Recorded live at The Regent Theatre in 2022.
Watch and listen to Samara Joy – “Warm in December” on YouTube

Emerson String Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert
Marking the end of the nearly 50-year career of one of modern history’s most durable, beloved, and prolific chamber ensembles.
Just two days after NPR captured this performance, the band played its final concert together in New York, where it all began in 1976 when a couple of Juilliard students thought putting together a string quartet might be a fun idea. Forty-some albums, nine Grammys, and countless concerts later, NPR was honored to document one of the band’s last performances.
Typical for the Emersons, the music they chose was wide-ranging. A dash of Haydn served as a witty amuse-bouche, then on to a mini-movement from late in Beethoven’s career, when the composer could swing his moods with shockingly modern abandon. At the heart of this bittersweet concert is the Emersons’ achingly beautiful performance of George Walker’s Lyric for Strings. The Washington, D.C. native, in 1996, became the first Black composer to win a Pulitzer. The elegiac music poured out of the players in rich, intermingling layers. But the band couldn’t leave on a somber note, so it closed with a rambunctious interpretation of the finale to Ravel’s string quartet — an appropriately effervescent way to say goodbye.
Watch the Tiny Desk Concert featuring the Emerson String Quartet on YouTube


And, to close out this installment of Culture Picks, here’s a sneak peek at some of the works you will hear when the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center returns to The PAC on January 27, with Extraordinary Imaginations.

Samuel Coleridge Taylor: Quintet in G minor for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello, Op. 1 (1893) 1. Allegro con moto
Filmed live in Alice Tully Hall on October 18, 2022
Artists:  Anne-Marie McDermott, piano; Stella Chen, Arnaud Sussmann, violin; Paul Neubauer, viola; Nicholas Canellakis, cello

Ernest Bloch – Quintet No. 1 for Piano, Two Violins, Viola, and Cello
Artists:  Kristin Lee, violin; Danbi Um, violin; Matthew Lipman, viola; Nicholas Canellakis, cello; Michael Brown, piano


Culture Picks celebrates the performing arts. In each post, PAC staff member Coni Guhl shines the spotlight on work by artists that you know and love from their appearances at The Purchase PAC, and offers recommendations about other performing arts events that you really should not miss. Experience them all!

All times are EDT unless otherwise noted.

Pictured: Emerson String Quartet Tiny Desk Concert. Photo © Catie Dull / NPR