For 268 years, George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” has persisted and triumphed, setting the standard for holiday music. With its drama and lyricism, sweeping melodies and mighty choral pieces, “Messiah” is a treasured perennial. Some orchestras have presented “Messiah” annually without interruption for more than a century and a half.
Here’s a look at some local offerings:
The most historically accurate performance of this crown jewel of Baroque oratorio comes from Nicholas McGegan’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, featuring specialists playing on authentic period instruments in local concerts. Soloists in the Philharmonia’s first “Messiah” in a decade are soprano Mary Wilson, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor John McVeigh and bass Tyler Duncan. The Philharmonia Baroque Chorale is directed by Bruce Lamott. [7:30 p.m. Friday, Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F.; $35-$95; www.philharmonia.org; more performances are Saturday and Sunday in Berkeley and Tuesday in Atherton]
A community “Messiah” experience is the singalong format. The San Francisco Sinfonietta and Chorus presents its “Sing it Yourself Messiah” conducted by Urs Leonhardt Steiner. The holiday music has a fitting setting: Mission Dolores Basilica in The City. [7:30 p.m. Monday, Mission Dolores Basilica, 3321 16th St., S.F.; $15-$30; www.cityboxoffice.com]
San Francisco Concert Chorale stages its own “Messiah,” also in the spectacular Mission Dolores Basilica. John Emory Bush conducts, and the soloists are Kaileen Miller, Lauren Groff, Arie Perry, Michael Beetham and you, if you sing loud enough. [8 p.m. Dec. 11, Mission Dolores Basilica, 3321 16th St., S.F.; $10-$15; www.sfconcertchorale.org]
The San Francisco Symphony has had an unusual hiatus of “Messiah” performances for three years, but the wait is over. The oratorio returns in a grand production led by chorus director Ragnar Bohlin. Soloists include soprano Kiera Duffy, mezzo Tove Dahlberg, tenor Benjamin Butterfield and bass Robert Gleadow. [7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17, 2 p.m. Dec. 19, Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.; $15-$90; www.sfsymphony.org]
The American Bach Soloists, led by music director Jeffrey Thomas, bring their small-scale authentic “Messiah” to majestic Grace Cathedral. (The Dublin premiere in 1742 featured a small orchestra and chorus.) Soloists are soprano Arianna Zukerman, alto Jennifer Lane, tenor Wesley Rogers and baritone James Maddelena. [7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17, Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., S.F.; $10-$70; www.americanbach.org]
Another “Messiah,” actually called “Messyah,” is a contemporary reworking of Handel’s themes and rhythms by the English composer Paul Ayres. This new and surprising work for Handel veterans and neophytes is offered by the Sanford Dole Ensemble. [7 p.m. Dec. 20, San Francisco Conservatory of Music Concert Hall, 50 Oak St., S.F.; $30; www.sde.org]