“There is nothing like it in all music,” Leonard Bernstein said of the eruptive moment in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion when the main choir splits into two and is accented by a third, releasing a torrent of layered sound. The story is taken from the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 26 and 27, tracking the plot against Jesus, and his death and burial. Bach wrote it in the 1720s, for multiple soloists, double orchestra, double choir, organ. The words are in German, written by a poet of the time who went by the name Picander, and Bach prepared it for a church service—and for the ages. Bach wrote for church every Sunday. His church was the luckiest church that ever was. This enormous production is pretty much the biggest thing on this winter’s season. (Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 8 pm, Feb 21–22, 215-4800, www.seattlesymphony.org) JEN GRAVES Robert Wade
This photograph was taken in the lobby of Benaroya Hall during one of Ludovic Morlot’s magical, tux-less, late-night concerts of experimental music. They’re always packed and warm, people sitting on folding chairs, stairs, floor mats, or peering over the lobby’s balconies. In this picture, Morlot’s conducting Arnold Schoenberg’s freaky expressionist song cycle Pierrot Lunaire, accompanied by a projection of an angst-ridden painting from the time of Schoenberg’s life (on that screen in the background). This winter’s [untitled] concert will feature a different great oddity: George Crumb’s 1971 Black Angels, where Dantesque archetypes meet the nightmarish Vietnam War era. The composition is performed by electric string quartet, crystal glasses tuned by the amount of water they contain, and gongs. (Benaroya Hall Grand Lobby, 200 University St, 10 pm, Fri Jan 31, 215-4800, www.seattlesymphony.org) JEN GRAVES Ben VanHouten

Seattle Symphony

Benaroya Hall unless otherwise noted: 200 University St, 215-4700, www.seattlesymphony.org

Vivaldi's Four Seasons (Sat Dec 14): Led by symphony associate concertmaster Emma McGrath.

Seattle Symphony Presents Handel's Messiah (Fri Dec 20, Sat Dec 21, Sun Dec 22): Holiday classic! Holiday classic! Big, beautiful, hallelujah.

A Festival of Lessons and Carols (Mon Dec 23): The Nativity story with Northwest Boychoir, Vocalpoint! Seattle, and members of the Northwest Sinfonia.

Seattle Symphony Presents Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (Sat Dec 28, Sun Dec 29, Thurs Jan 2, Fri Jan 3, Sat Jan 4): Hum along to "Ode to Joy" and more in a performance led by Carlos Kalmar and featuring Nathalie Paulin, soprano, Angela Niederloh, mezzo–soprano, Brendan Tuohy, tenor, Charles Robert Stephens, baritone, and the Seattle Symphony Chorale.

New Year's Eve Concert (Tues Dec 31): Favorites from The Nutcracker, Rhapsody in Blue, and, we hear, Star Wars. Canadian pianist Jon Kimura Parker is the special guest in the concert hall, then, in the lobby countdown to midnight with Ludovic Morlot, there's dancing to HB Radke & the Jet City Swingers.

Big Nightmare Music (Thurs Jan 9): Comedy and classical music: two terms you never hear together. Musicians Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo are said to be changing that.

Bach's Coffehouse (Fri Jan 10, Sat Jan 11): Taking audiences back in time to Zimmermann's Coffeehouse in Leipzig, the home of concerts by Bach and his student orchestra!

Tchaikovsky's Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (Thurs Jan 16): The first half of a Tchaikovsky mini-festival featuring piano and violin concerti, conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto, and with Boris Giltburg and Alexander Lubyantsev, piano.

Tchakovsky's Violin Concerto (Fri Jan 17): The second half of a Tchaikovsky mini-festival featuring piano and violin concerti, conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto. This half features Mayuko Kamio, violin, and Boris Giltburg, piano.

Prokofiev, Haydn, and Mozart (Thurs Jan 23, Sat Jan 25, Sun Jan 26): Prokofiev's First Symphony, Haydn's Piano Concerto in D major, and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 4 for Left Hand, featuring Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano. Guest-conducted by Marcelo Lehninger.

Shostakovich & Adams (Thurs Jan 30, Sat Feb 1): Olari Elts guest-conducts and Alexander Melnikov is the pianist in a program that begins with John Adams's 1985 outtake from his opera Nixon in China, The Chairman Dances, followed by Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Adams's arrangement of Liszt's The Black Gondola, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9 in E-flat major.

[UNTITLED] Series (Fri Jan 31): After the 7 p.m. performance of Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto and Ninth Symphony comes a 10 p.m. [UNTITLED] Series presentation in the lobby called Black Angels. On the adventurous program: Morton Feldman's The Viola in My Life, Part 3; Kalevi Aho's Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano; R. Murray Schafer's Theseus; and George Crumb's Black Angels for Electric String Quartet. The late-night series is always terrific. Try it!

Joseph Adam (Mon Feb 3): Seattle Symphony's resident organist performs Bach, Saint-Saëns, and more.

Joshua Bell (Wed Feb 5): A solo recital by the traveling violin star.

Symphonie Fantastique (Thurs Feb 13, Sat Feb 15): Xavier Phillips, cello, performing Schumann's Concerto in A minor for Cello, and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Morlot conducts.

St. Matthew Passion (Fri Feb 21, Sat Feb 22): See above.

Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 39-41 (Thurs Feb 27): Mozart did start early—child prodigy—but still, he died young. There are only so many Mozart symphonies out there. Seattle Symphony, led by former music director Gerard Schwarz, will lead the orchestra in three of them in sequence, culminating in the great "Jupiter," No. 41.

Seattle Opera

McCaw Hall unless otherwise noted: 321 Mercer St, 753-9725, seattleopera.org

Rigoletto (Jan 11-Jan 25): Rigoletto is one of the classics, a Verdi opera for the ages, meaning the music is as beautiful as the plot is perverse. The action includes a hunchback, an assassin, a duke, and much "ruining" of virgins. Several of the arias, duets, and quartets are famous. It's a great opera to come back to, or to begin with. Seattle Opera's production is set in 1930s Italy, directed by Linda Brovsky (Don Quichotte in 2011) and featuring baritone Marco Vratogna (Ezio in Attila) as Rigoletto, tenor Francesco Demuro (Rodolfo in La Bohème) as the Duke of Mantua, Andrea Silvestrelli (Fasolt and Hunding in the Ring) as Sparafucile, soprano Nadine Sierra as the innocent young Gilda, and conductor Riccardo Frizza (Aida and Falstaff).

The Consul (Feb 22-March 1): This is the first time Seattle Opera has produced Gian Carlo Menotti's 1950 thriller about a political dissident on the run from secret police in an unidentified totalitarian country in Europe. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The cast features soprano Marcy Stonikas (recently seen as Turandot and Leonore) and baritone Michael Todd Simpson, both former Seattle Opera Young Artists, plus mezzo soprano Lucille Beer (this past summer's Erda in The Ring). Directed by Young Artists head Peter Kazaras and conducted by Carlo Montanaro (La Bohème).

Wayward Music Series

Good Shepherd Center's Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 290-1601, www.waywardmusic.blogspot.com

Sarah Davachi and Kaori Suzuki (Thurs Dec 5): This evening of electronic music features music by Kaori Suzuki and Sarah Davachi. Davachi describes her work as including "simple harmonic structures that emphasize acoustic and psychoacoustic variations... in order to approach distanced and altered landscapes."

Michael Owcharuk (Fri Dec 6): Featuring Seattle composer/pianist/accordionist Michael Owcharuk.

Electronic Compositions (Sat Dec 7): Electronic music by Cornish students.

Yesod (Fri Dec 13): Yesod's "4th-world improvisations"—"experimental alternative ambient improvisational psychedelic world" music.

Gradus (Sat Dec 14): Gradus is the composition resulting from this experiment (!): "Since 2002, Neal Kosaly-Meyer has been systematically working through all combinations of all the As on the piano, devoting an extended improvisation session to each single A, and to all combinations of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 As."

Christian Pincock (Thurs Dec 19): Christian Pincock, trombone/composer.

Noisegasm + Distorrent (Fri Dec 20): electronic music.

Vanessa Skantze (Sat Dec 28): Vanessa Skantze, butoh performance with live experimental music.

Wayne Horvitz (Fri Jan 10): Wayne Horvitz, composer, with pianist Cristina Valdes and others.

Jacob Zimmerman (Sat Jan 11): Jacob Zimmerman, avant saxophone.

Spontaneous Rex (Thurs Jan 16): experimental/jazz/avant-rock.

Islaja, Kira Kira, and Sokai Stilhed (Fri Jan 17): Electronic music from artists in Finland, Iceland, and Seattle.

Matthew Shipp (Sat Jan 25): Matthew Shipp, piano, and Michael Bisio, bass, perform improvised music.

Amy Denio (Thurs Jan 30): Underground leader Amy Denio, who's been in Seattle taking chances for years, doing all kinds of work in all kinds of genres and contexts: composition, improvisation, collaboration with film, dance, theater.

Elizabeth Baker (Fri Jan 31): Young, marvelously eggheaded experimental composer/pianist Elizabeth A. Baker.

Fisher Ensemble (Sat Feb 15): Experimental music-theater inspired by stories from such sources as Japanese Noh, Medea, and Nazi Germany.

Seattle Modern Orchestra (Fri Feb 21): contemporary classical.

Pincushioned (Sat Feb 22): electro-acoustic/percussion.

Michaud Savage (Fri Feb 28): A Seattle-based composer, songwriter, and performer with influences in jazz, tango, film music, trance, Western classical music, overtone singing, and North and South American ecstatic singing.

MEANY HALL

UW Campus, at 15th Ave NE and NE 40th St, 685-2742, meany.org

Silent Night, Joyous Night (Wed Dec 4): For the annual university CarolFest, the Chamber Singers, University Chorale, University Singers, Women's Choir, Gospel Choir, and UW Men's Glee Club all come together for variations on "Silent Night." It's the 150th birthday of the song's composer, Franz Grüber, y'all!

Melia Watras (Mon Jan 13): UW faculty violist Melia Watras and Pacific Northwest Ballet concertmaster Michael Jinsoo Lim present world premieres by Richard Karpen, Frances White, and the performers themselves. The musicians will be joined by renowned Seattle theater director Sheila Daniels, singing!

Garrick Ohlsson (Wed Jan 15): A stop on the tour for the piano giant. On the program: Beethoven's Sonata in E Major, Op. 109; Schubert's Fantasy in C Major, Op. 15, D. 760; Griffes's Selections; and Chopin's Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58.

A Far Cry (Thurs Jan 16): The six-year-old, Boston-based, self-conducted orchestra of 17, performing music by Ives, Gershwin, Dvorák, Kip Jones, and Lev Zhurbin.

Modern Music Ensemble (Fri Jan 31): The students in the modern music ensemble call themselves Inverted Space. They'll perform a couple of classics: Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and Takemitsu's Quatrain II.

Brooklyn Rider & Bela Fleck (Tues Feb 4): The world's leading banjo player and a string quartet credited with reinventing the form, on tour together.

Mallethead Series (Fri Feb 7): Faculty artist Tom Collier and bassist Dan Dean with special guest artists.

University Symphony with Ludovic Morlot and Concerto Competition Winners (Fri Feb 14): The students of the University Symphony led by Seattle Symphony maestro Ludovic Morlot in selections from Symphonie Fantastique, plus winners of the 2013 Concerto Competition.

André Richard: Music by Luigi Nono and Others (Tues Feb 25): This concert is the culmination of a weeklong residency by Swiss musician André Richard, who studied with Luigi Nono, the antifascist 20th-century Italian composer.

TOWN HALL

1119 Eighth Ave, 652-4255, townhallseattle.org

Ceremony of Carols: Britten Centenary Christmas (Sat Dec 7): Happy 100th birthday to Benjamin Britten with his Ceremony of Carols and A Boy Was Born.

Holiday Concert (Sun Dec 8): Carol sing-along and festiveness galore with the local orchestra.

35th Annual Seattle Celtic Yuletide Concert (Sat Dec 14)

Salvation Army Brass Band & Breath of Aire Choir (Sun Dec 15)

Seattle Baroque Orchestra Presents Dresden Concertos (Sat Jan 18): Guest artist Rachel Barton Pine directs and performs concertos on the viola d'amore, a seven-stringed instrument popular 400 years ago.

Seattle Festival Orchestra Presents Sibelius Karelian Overture (Sun Jan 26)

Mozart Birthday Toast (Mon Jan 27): Town Hall's fifth annual toast to Mozart's birthday (he'd be 258 this time) brings a concert with pianist Byron Schenkman, soprano Linda Tsatsanis, violinist Liza Zurlinden, violist Jason Fisher, and clarinetist Sean Osborn, and chocolates, sparkling beverages, prizes, "and merriment all around." Any reason to hear Mozart is a good one; remembering he was a real person with a small group of great and loving interpreters is particularly nice.

Early Music for All: An Intergenerational Sing-Along! (Sun Feb 2): Everybody's invited to join in on songs that are hundreds of years old.

Thalia Symphony Presents: Passion, Love, and Tragedy (Sun Feb 9): Music by Sibelius, Chausson, and Rossini.

Early Music Guild Presents: The King's Singers (Sat Feb 15): The King's Singers sold out their appearance on Early Music Guild's season last year, so they return for a night celebrating Netherlandish composer Josquin des Prez, a 16th-century master of polyphony (voice-mixing). Obscure and neat!

Simple Measures Presents: The Magic Flute (Sun Feb 16): Featuring the Seattle Symphony principal flute, who is a wonder (and who may be leaving Seattle, so see him while you can).

LUCO Presents: Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, and Scriabin (Fri Feb 21): With Victoria Parker, violin.

Early Music Guild International Series Presents: "Folias Antiguas y Criollas" (Fri Feb 28): Jordi Savall and his famous ensemble, Hesperion XXI (founded 1974), join with Mexican folklore ensemble Tembembe Ensamble and special guest harpist Andrew Lawrence King.

Cornish College of the Arts

Poncho Concert Hall, 710 East Roy St, 726-5151

Bach-Gamel (Sun Dec 8): Yes! Gamelan Pacifica, with Stranger Genius vocalist Jessika Kenney and four baroque music specialists, explore links between music of the baroque period in Europe and Javanese gamelan. This should be unusual and grand.

Fire and Passion: Music of the Spanish and Italian Baroque (Sun Feb 2)

Canzonetta (Sun Feb 9): Canzonetta sings music spanning 600 years. You could end up anytime.

Seattle Modern Orchestra Featuring Séverine Ballon (Thurs Feb 20): The 21st-century French cellist plays 21st-century cello music with the orchestra.

UW School of Music

Brechemin Auditorium, UW Campus, 543-1201, music.washington.edu

Dainius Vaicekonis: Cultural Crossroads (Sun Dec 8): Faculty artist Dainius Vaicekonis is joined by his wife, Asta, and colleagues Donna Shin and Ron Patterson in a concert featuring legendary American composers with Lithuanian heritage (Copland, Glass, and more).

Littlefield Organ Series: Eunyoung Kim (Sun Jan 12)

Michael Partington (Sun Jan 12)

Eric Zuber (Sun Feb 23): Zuber, a rising piano star, will perform a recital of works by Rachmaninoff and Schumann, then take part in a panel discussion: "Building a Career in Classical Music," with UW faculty and music professionals.

QUEEN ANNE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

1316 Third Ave W, 726-6088

Romantic Moments with Trio Paradies (Sat Jan 25, Sun Jan 26): The early Romantic music of Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Chopin, and the debut of the 1830s Viennese "Grafendorfer" grand piano.

The Dutch Masters Return (Sat Feb 22, Sun Feb 23): Three international-music stars from the Netherlands celebrate the 300th birthday of Bach's son C.P.E. Fight amongst yourselves about which of Bach's sons was the best.

Seattle Chamber Singers

First Free Methodist Church, 3200 Third Ave, 281-2919

Handel's Messiah (Sun Dec 15): This is the first time the Seattle Chamber Singers have done this concert since 2010, when they performed a version as a memorial to their founder, George Shangrow, who died in a car accident that year. New conductor Clinton Smith takes the lead here.

Friendship and Imagination (Sat Feb 8): Liadov's The Enchanted Lake, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64; and Mussorgsky/Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition, conducted by Stilian Kirov.

The Esoterics

Venues vary, 935-7779. theesoterics.org

The Esoterics: Sacra (Dec 6 through Dec 8): In two programs this fall, the Esoterics perform Britten's entire repertory for a cappella chorus, divided into earthly and sacred. This second half is for heaven.

Seattle Women's Chorus

Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St, flyinghouse.org

We Can Swing It! (Thurs Feb 6, Fri Feb 7, Sat Feb 8, Sun Feb 9): A world premiere by Eric Lane Barnes about female pioneers "from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the foundries of Pittsburgh and many places in between," performed with the all-female MoodSwings Jazz Band.

Seattle Men's Chorus

Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, flyinghouse.org

Play It Again, Santa (Through Dec 22): Starring Tony Award winner Levi Kreis, Seattle Men's Chorus kicks off the holiday season with favorite tunes and new songs. Cheeseball never felt so good.