Continuing its new commitment to ongoing year-round programming, Newport Classical, which recently changed its name from Newport Music Festival, announces two holiday programs this December – Newport Classical Holiday with Ensemble Altera at Emmanuel Church Chapel (42 Dearborn St.) on Friday, December 3 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 4 at 2:30 pm; and Handel’s iconic Messiah at the Mansion at Rosecliff (548 Bellevue Ave.) on Sunday, December 12 at 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm. Tickets will go on sale on October 25 at The organization’s new name better reflects its 53-year history of embracing the timelessness of classical music, as well as its current mission of looking toward the future and celebrating the diversity of expression within the artform through year-round programming.

On December 3 and 4, up-and-coming, Providence-based chamber choir Ensemble Altera presents a beautiful program for voices, harp, and organ. The program, sung entirely by women and led by the group’s director and countertenor Christopher Lowrey, centers on Benjamin Britten’s beloved holiday favorite Ceremony of Carols, alongside works by five female composers including mediaeval polymath and mystic Hildegard von Bingen; 17th-century virtuoso singer and composer Barbara Strozzi; 20th century British composer and conductor Imogen Holst; composer, writer, pianist, and collector of folksongs Elizabeth Poston; and Joanna Marsh, one of the most exciting living choral composers of today.

On December 12, Newport Classical presents a one-hour performance of the Christmas section of Handel’s oratorio Messiah, including the Hallelujah Chorus, featuring the Professional Choristers of The Choir School of Newport County, Brown University Chorus, and Providence Baroque Orchestra performing on period instruments. The magnificent Rosecliff mansion is the location for this unforgettable holiday experience.

“We are so happy to be collaborating with The Choir School of Newport County, Brown University Chorus, and Providence Baroque Orchestra as well as The Preservation Society to bring such a special musical experience to Newport for the holidays,” says Newport Classical Executive Director Gillian Friedman Fox. “Projects of this nature show the value of community partnership and we hope this concert becomes an annual tradition.”

Peter Berton, founding Executive Director of The Choir School of Newport County, adds, “Fred Jodry (Brown University) and I are so looking forward to this merry Newport offering of Messiah with early instruments and young voices, much the way Handel would have heard it performed in his day, in a gorgeous period setting. We are enormously grateful to Newport Classical for supporting this collaboration and bringing it to Newport at the peak of the season.”

“I always find that the best way to celebrate the holiday season is through the beauty of choral music,” says Newport Classical Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Trevor Neal of Ensemble Altera’s performances. “Ensemble Altera’s imaginative programming highlights the contributions of women to the music of this season, led by the group’s director and countertenor, Christopher Lowrey. Newport Classical is pleased to present this truly exceptional emerging ensemble to the Newport community – this is certainly a must-do on every family’s holiday activity list.”    

Newport Classical Holiday Programming Details

Newport Classical Holiday with Ensemble Altera
Friday, December 3, 2021 at 7:30pm & Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 2:30pm
Emmanuel Church Chapel | 42 Dearborn Street | Newport, RI
Tickets: $25


JAMES BINGHAM Procession & Carols: Lullaby

IMOGEN HOLST Welcome Joy & Welcome Sorrow, no. 1, 6

JOHN SHEPPARD Audivi vocem de caelo



JOANNA MARSH Magnificat from St. Paul’s Service


ELIZABETH POSTON Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

HENRIETTE RENIE Ballade fantastique for Harp

BRITTEN Ceremony of Carols

RUTTER Deck the Halls


RUTTER Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day

Celebrate the holiday season with up-and-coming chamber choir Ensemble Altera in this beautiful program for voices, harp, and organ. The program centers on Benjamin Britten’s beloved Ceremony of Carols, a familiar and attractive work for audiences alongside works by five female composers including Hildegard von Bingen, medieval polymath and mystic, her music is best characterized as mysterious, sensuous, and ethereal; Barbara Strozzi, 17th-century virtuoso singer and composer, whose sacred music is rarely performed; 20th century British composer and conductor Imogen Holst, Gustav Holst’s only child and student of Benjamin Britten; Elizabeth Poston, who beautifully set the text of a poem which first appeared in a New Hampshire hymnal in the late 18th century; and Joanna Marsh, one of the most exciting choral composers of today. To round out the concerts, the program will include a few well-known Christmas songs, which will include the harp and organ – a festive treat for everyone!

Messiah at the Mansion
  Featuring The Choir School of Newport County
  Brown University Chorus and Providence Baroque Orchestra

Sunday, December 12, 2021 | 4:00pm and 6:30pm
Rosecliff | 548 Bellevue Ave. | Newport, RI
Tickets: $75/$60
This concert is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Choir School of Newport County by Cynthia Sinclair.

HANDEL Messiah
Newport Classical presents Handel’s iconic oratorio Messiah featuring the Professional Choristers of The Choir School of Newport County, Brown University Chorus, and the Providence Baroque Orchestra performing on period instruments. Join us for a one-hour production of the Christmas portion of this celebratory work including the Hallelujah Chorus. The newest annual Newport Holiday tradition is perfect for the whole family.

About Newport Classical:

Newport Classical is a premier performing arts organization that welcomes people of every age, culture, and background to intimate, immersive musical experiences. The organization presents world-renowned and up-and-coming artistic talents at stunning, storied venues across Newport – an internationally sought-after cultural and recreational destination.

Originally founded in 1969 as Rhode Island Arts Foundation at Newport, Inc. and previously known as Newport Music Festival (NMF), Newport Classical has a rich legacy of musical curiosity presenting the American debuts of over 130 international artists and rarely heard works, and is most well-known for hosting three weeks of concerts in the summer in the historic mansions throughout Newport and Aquidneck Island. The organization has produced more than 2,000 concerts and hosted more than 1,000 musicians and singers. In 2021, the organization launched a new commissioning initiative – each year, Newport Classical will commission a new work by a Black, Indigenous, person of color, or woman composer as a commitment to the future of classical music.

Newport Classical is proud to be an essential pillar of New England’s cultural landscape, and to invest in the future of classical music as a diverse, relevant, and ever-evolving art form. Newport Classical’s four core programming initiatives – the iconic summer Music Festival taking place across Newport; the year-round Chamber Series at the organization’s home base Newport Classical Recital Hall at Emmanuel Church in downtown Newport; the free family-friendly Community Concerts held in green spaces around Aquidneck Island; and its newly expanded Music Education Residency program – illustrate the organization’s ongoing commitment to presenting “timeless music for today.”

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...