THURSDAY DECEMBER 28
Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony Chorale, and the Seattle Symphony perform one of the greatest symphonies of all time, Beethoven's triumphant Symphony No. 9, which always leaves me wanting to saddle up and ride into battle. Soloists include Jane Eaglen (will she soar or will she screech?), Greer Grimsley, and the esteemed mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby. The concert begins with the Cantata No. 91 of J. S. Bach. Also Fri Dec 29 and Sat Dec 30 at 8 pm. Benaroya Hall, 200 University St, 215-4747, 7 pm, $15—$89.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 29
SALUTE TO VIENNA
The Elvis of his day, Johann Strauss Jr. (1825—1899) was hailed as the "Waltz King." He packed 'em in at arena concerts where he deployed armies of string players to churn out his hits such as "The Blue Danube," "Tales from the Vienna Woods," and "The Thunder and Lightning Polka." Expect something similar to those evil PBS André Rieu specials: a horde of fresh-faced musicians and dancers, gooey dollops of schmaltz, and charmingly naive listeners savoring the "best" of classical music. Paramount, 911 Pine St, 292-2787, 8 pm, $35—$78.
I like this pianist's 2006 disc, Alay, which eloquently transmutes Filipino folk songs into jazz. With saxophonist Mark Taylor (Willie Nelson Project, Matt Jorgensen +451, Frieze of Life), drummer Byron Vannoy, and Chris Symer on bass. Tula's, 2214 Second Ave, 443-4221, 8:30 pm, $12.
The wittiest and most vivid band names lurk in the corners of experimental music, and this gig boasts two of 'em: the distortion-heavy Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and Arachnid Arcade, who spew rubbery, sputtering synth lines. Wind Swept Planes and Frühe Werke ("early works") round out the bill. Bring earplugs. Lobo Saloon, 433 Eastlake Ave E, 223-9204, 10 pm, $5.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 30
ELLINGTON SACRED CONCERT
Near the end of his life, Duke Ellington (1899—1974) composed three Sacred Concerts to honor God through jazz. In his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress, Ellington stressed that his Sacred Concerts "...are not the traditional mass jazzed up," but instead fuse jazz, gospel, the blues, recitative, and dance. For this annual concert, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra compiles music from all three Sacred Concerts and imports top-notch guest vocalists like Dee Daniels, who sent shivers down my spine at this gig several years ago. First Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 547-6763, 7:30 pm, $24—$28.
SUNDAY DECEMBER 31
NEW YEAR'S EVE AT ST. JAMES
This celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday concludes with Mozart's Kyrie for five sopranos, the Allegro for mechanical organ, movements from the Requiem, and a passel of other works. St. James Cathedral turns 100 this year—as a city, Seattle is still in its infancy—so they're celebrating that, too. Dress warmly and keep the hooch in a discreet flask. Call ahead if you want good seats. St. James Cathedral, 804 Ninth Ave, 382-4874, 11 pm, students pay as able/$25 suggested donation.