Brandenburg joys

Shimmering with joie de vivre and richly interlacing instrumental textures, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are widely viewed as the greatest orchestral compositions of the baroque period. Playing them has become a holiday tradition for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which this year bundles five of the six concertos together in a single evening’s entertainment. As in Bach’s lifetime, the concertos are played without a conductor, though for the keyboard-centric Fifth the SPCO is joined by eminent harpsichordist Jory Vinikour. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Apple Valley; 8 p.m. Fri., Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata; 8 p.m. Sat., Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul; $11-$50, 651-291-1144 or

Ellos hablan Handel

It’s Handel’s “Messiah,” but not quite as you know it. Twin Cities choir Border CrosSing’s take on Handel’s choral masterpiece is titled “El Mesías,” and recasts Part One of the oratorio bilingually, with recitatives sung in Spanish and the choruses in a mix of Spanish and English. The choir’s artistic director, Ahmed Anzaldúa, stirs the cultural melting pot further by adding Andean instruments to Handel’s orchestra, and interspersing the six movements of “Navidad Nuestra,” a cantata by Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez, into the performance. (7 p.m. Fri., Church of the Ascension, Mpls.; 7 p.m. Sat., Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, St. Paul; $15-$25,

Cantus mix

For sheer vocal quality the annual Christmas show by the eight-man vocal ensemble Cantus is hard to beat. This year’s program reimagines the traditional holiday tales “The Little Match Girl” and “Christmas or the Good Fairy” and the Nutcracker Suite in a mix of familiar carols and newer pieces. (11 a.m. Thu., Westminster Presbyterian Church, Mpls.; 7:30 p.m. Thu., Fridley District Auditorium, Fridley; 7:30 p.m. Sat., Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Apple Valley; 2 p.m. Sun., Hamline United Methodist Church, St. Paul; $10-$32, 612-435-0055 or

Cellos in the courtroom

The all-female Delphia Cello Quartet is Twin Cities based and, as its name indicates, is unusual in having four cellos in the lineup. Hear how they sound at this week’s Schubert Club Courtroom Concert, where music by Bach, Tippett, Piazzolla, Björk and Vivaldi is on the menu. (Noon Thu., Courtroom 317, Landmark Center, St. Paul; free,

Tribute to Clausen

René Clausen is in his 34th and final year as conductor of the Concordia Choir, and this year’s Christmas program by the Singers pays a special tribute to his achievements as a composer. It also will feature the world premiere of new carol arrangements by the Singers’ artistic director and conductor, Matthew Culloton. (2 p.m. Sun., Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul; $22-$36,