This time of year, I yearn for some uplift―something more ancient, wiser, and larger than the mall. Music, as so often is the case, is a good antidote to consumerist angst. And it doesn’t get any more inspirational than in the French Gothic stained-glass shrine of Grace Cathedral Episcopal Church, atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill.
Concerts this season range from the American Bach Soloists performing Handel's Messiah (Dec 14) to church-choir performances (Dec 11–20) to an organ and brass extravaganza (Dec 21). You needn’t be Episcopalian to enjoy the melodies, made more pleasurable by the vaulted ceilings and the church's massive 7,466-pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ.
You do, however, need endurance to make it through the three-hour Messiah. Last year, my grandmother, mother, and I all started nodding off by the post-“Hallelujah” denouement. But that’s an old lesson: When you seek the larger-than-life, be prepared for something big. Advance purchase recommended for Grace Cathedral events (from $15; 1100 California St., San Francisco; www.gracecathedral.org or 415/749-6300) and for American Bach Soloists (from $20; www.americanbach.org or 415/621-7900). ― Lisa Taggart