Graceful music

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