Cantus & Sweet Honey in the Rock

First you cover a group's songs, then you get to sing them with the actual group. That's the dream scenario for Twin Cities male vocal ensemble Cantus, which joins with female African-American quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock for a must-see event for lovers of elite, close-harmony a cappella singing. (7:30 p.m. Sept. 21, Orchestra Hall, Mpls. $30-$100, 612-371-5656,

Cox conducts Argento

As his 90th birthday approaches, Minneapolis composer Dominick Argento's dashing Valentino Dances get a celebratory performance by the Minnesota Orchestra, along with Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances and Grieg's Piano Concerto, led by the orchestra's exciting young associate conductor, Roderick Cox. (11 a.m. Oct. 5, 8 p.m. Oct. 6. $25-$96. Orchestra Hall. 612-371-5656,

'Don Pasquale'

Minnesota Opera gives Donizetti's bubbling comedy a provocative makeover, updating its setting to 1950s Hollywood. Don Pasquale, now a faded silent movie hero, lives in Sunset Boulevard seclusion until he fixates on the much younger Norina, a Hollywood starlet. Cue misery for Pasquale, and merriment for those attempting to thwart his dubious intentions. (8 p.m. Oct. 7; 7:30 p.m. Oct., 10, 12 & 14; 2 p.m. Oct. 15, Ordway Music Theater, St. Paul. $25-$165, 612-333-6669,

'The Alehouse Sessions'

The Barokksolistene is a Norwegian baroque ensemble, and it likes audiences that drink craft beer. The group should fit in well in Minneapolis, where its "Alehouse Sessions" show will transport the audience back to the ribald atmosphere of an English 17th-century tavern. Purcell overtures, sea shanties and folk songs all get the mash-together treatment, as the formalities of the typical classical concert are hoisted out the window. (7:30 p.m. Oct. 12. $30. Aria, Mpls. 651-292-3268,

'St. John Passion'

Bach's choral masterpiece is normally sung in the formal setting of a church or concert hall, but its highly charged content lends itself to dramatization. Lyric Opera of the North is the latest company to take the St. John in a more operatic direction. Skylark Opera's Bob Neu directs. (7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 3 p.m. Oct. 15. $12-$57. Lincoln Park Middle School Auditorium, Duluth.

'Let Us Live, Let Us Love'

Twin Cities choir the Singers pays tribute to Argento with a performance of "I Hate and I Love," his choral cycle based on poems by Catullus. In a program bursting with enterprise, Matthew Culloton conducts Irving Fine's "The Hour Glass," Britten's "Hymn to St. Cecilia" and a new work by St. Paul composer Benjamin Wegner. (7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, Nativity of Our Lord Church, St. Paul; 3 p.m. Oct. 22, First Lutheran Church, Columbia Heights. $21-$35.

'La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura'

One soloist, using six separate music stands, plays along to a prerecorded soundtrack mixed from eight separate channels. This piece, by Italian composer Luigi Nono, is one of the strangest works ever written for the violin, and casts a ghostly spell over listeners. Patricia Kopatchinskaja is a perfect soloist for this very rare performance. (7:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Free. Walker Art Center, Mpls.

András Schiff

In an age when promising pianists are regularly hyped, Schiff has built an outstanding career based on a lack of showiness and pretension. The great Hungarian player, now in his 60s, brings a portfolio of composers he is best at — Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Beethoven — in a recital that, for pianophiles, is unmissable. (3 p.m. Oct. 29. $32-$71. Ordway Music Theater. 651-224-4222,

Dover Quartet

The next great American string quartet? That's a label the Dover carries, with plenty of justification. Twin Cities audiences can get a taste in a fascinating program including Bartók's First Quartet, with works by Richard Danielpour, John Corigliano and Duke Ellington. David Shifrin guests on clarinet. (4 p.m. Nov. 12. $21-$31. St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, St. Paul. 651-292-3268,

Music of America

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra seems incapable of dull programming. It hits the sweet spot again with a fascinatingly eclectic concert of music by American composers. Copland's "Appalachian Spring" provides the feel-good factor, but its familiarity is leavened with pieces by William Bolcom, Kevin Puts and John Corigliano. (8 p.m. Nov. 24-25, 2 p.m. Nov. 26. $12-$50. Ordway Concert Hall. 651-291-1144,