'Tis the season to be jolly excited as Birmingham's expanded set of concert halls bursts into festive life. Christopher Morley sets the scene.
Time to take my head out of the sand and acknowledge that Christmas is upon us, and that the region is bursting with festive events. Just a few of them are mentioned here, with apologies for what is bound to be a huge number of omissions.
Birmingham's two newest concert venues host seasonal programmes over the next few days, beginning this Saturday evening when Ex Cathedra presents Gaudete! in the fabulous new Elgar Concert Hall within the magnificent Bramall Music Building at Birmingham University.
Jeffrey Skidmore's candlelit programme offers a first half of seasonal music from Renaissance Spain and Latin America (the choir's explorations of music in the New World always reveal fascinating gems), with the second half bringing a selection of well-loved Christmas music from the 13th to the 18th century (7.30pm).
Just across Edgbaston Park Road is the equally remarkable Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, music studios and a vibrantly versatile concert-hall sited just behind the King Edward Schools opposite the Barber Institute. What a cultural campus this is, not forgetting the elegant Elmhurst School for Dance just a few hundred yards along the Bristol Road citywards.
On Sunday and Monday, the Ruddock presents Christmas concerts featuring a variety of ensembles from both the boys' and girls' schools. Heaven knows how they'll sort out the staging logistics, as there is such a bran-tub of groups performing, but I'm sure they'll succeed.
There are other Christmas goodies this weekend, with Saturday in particular crammed with events spoiling the concert-goer for choice.
Birmingham Festival Choral Society presents Wolcum Yole, "a festive programme for choir and audience in the medieval style" (St John's and St Peter's Church, Ladywood, 6pm). Conductor Patrick Larley and his singers are joined by the Gallery Players, mulled wine and mince pies are included in the admission fee, and all proceeds are in aid of the Birmingham branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Half an hour later, Paul Spicer and his Birmingham Bach Choir sing Carols by Candlelight at St. Francis' Church in Bournville.
But revellers can also swing into the Christmas spirit earlier in the day, when the Phoenix pull their annual Christmas Cracker at the Adrian Boult Hall, bringing a programme of seasonal songs and traditional carols for all the family to join in. Sennet Brass add their own brand of festive magic to the proceedings (3pm).
On Sunday, the ABH hosts the Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra in Festive Fairy Tales, a spectacular programme including Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Ravel's Mother Goose, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride (ubiquitous, but such a little gem), and a selection of favourite carols. The event is being filmed, and audience-members will have the opportunity of speaking to camera during the interval giving their reactions to the concert thus far (5pm).