David Hoose and the CANTATA SINGERS turn their focus this year on the great Benjamin Britten and his relation to composers of the past (Bach, Beethoven) and present (Andy Vores). The first 2009 concert includes several masterpieces: the Serenade for Tenor and Horn, the cantata Phaedra (Robert Lowell's words sung by mezzo-soprano Janna Baty), and Lachrymae (with violist Roger Tapping) (Jordan Hall, January 16; 617.868.5885). There will also be a staged Britten opera: Noye's Fludde, with young performers from local arts organizations (All Saints Parish in Brookline, February 7).
Benjamin Zander and the BOSTON PHILHARMONIC welcome spring with Gabriela Montero in Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto plus Lutoslawski and Ligeti (Jordan Hall and Sanders Theatre, February 19, 21, 22; 617.236.0999).
The BOSTON CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY's Mozart Duo/Shostakovich Piano Quintet/Beethoven Archduke Trio program (Sanders Theatre, February 22; 617.349.0086) sounds like heaven. So also does the Beethoven/Schumann/Brahms program (March 29).
Richard Pittman's BOSTON MUSICA VIVA has its 17th annual family concert, with family-friendly works by Andy Vores, Derek Jacoby, and Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (Tsai Center, February 8; 617.353.8724). COLLAGE NEW MUSIC features more superb singers: sopranos Susan Narucki (Longy School, January 26) and Judith Bettina (March 2; 617.325.5200). Scott Wheeler's Dinosaur Annex caps the Young Composers Festival with a concert of works by young composers (Community Music Center of Boston, January 25; 617.895.8769). And Gil Rose's BMOP has a varied Boston ConNECtion program, with work by Matti Kovler, Peter Maxwell Davies, Kati Agöcs, John Heiss, and Michael Gandolfi plus the premiere of William Thomas McKinley's Recollections — musical portraits of 11 familiar Boston-based musicians (Jordan Hall, January 17; 617.363.0396).
The BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL presents Andrea Marcon's Venice Chamber Orchestra (January 17), the estimable Sarasa Ensemble with soprano Dominique Labelle and countertenor Michael Chance (February 7), Concerto Palatino (Febraury 14), and violist Petra Müllejans and fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout playing Mozart (March 21). 617.661.1812.
The highlight of BOSTON BAROQUE's spring season might be Martin Pearlman conducting Rameau's opera-ballet Pygmalion, with choreography by former Mark Morris dancer Marjorie Folkman (Jordan Hall, March 6-7; 617.484.9200).
Besides the Haydn opera, the Handel and Haydn Society has Paul Goodwin leading Couperin, Purcell, and Bach in a "Baroque Grand Tour" (Jordan Hall, February 27, March 1; 617.262.1815) and Grant Llewellyn conducting Brahms and Mendelssohn, with violinist Ilya Grongolts (Symphony Hall, March 20, 22).
At Emmanuel Church, it's farewell to EMMANUEL MUSIC's five-year Schumann survey (February 1, 8); Michael Beattie leads Bach choral motets (April 25); there'll be a noontime series of Bach's six solo cello suites (Thursdays, February 26–April 2); and Peggy Pearson's Winsor Music sponsors a free Bach Birthday Celebration (March 20; 617.536.3356). WINSOR MUSIC also unites Bach and Telemann with a new piece for the Boston Children's Chorus by John Heiss (Follen Church, March 28; 781.863.2861).
The NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY starts the new year with fortepianist John Gibbons, violinist Gabriela Diaz, and cellist Laura Bluestein in a free concert of Haydn piano trios (Jordan Hall, January 12; 617.585.1100). BOSTON CONSERVATORY continues its Piano Masters series with the Boston debut of French-Cypriot pianist Cyprien Katsaris (Seully Hall, February 10; 617.536.6340) and Russian-born Boris Berman (March 10). And in the String Masters Series are cellists Rhonda Rider (February 24) and Suren Bagratuni (March 31).
Love is in the air at the annual Valentine's Day concert at the MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS with soprano Nancy Armstrong, baritone Robert Honeysucker, violinist Daniel Stepner, and gambist Laura Jeppesen (February 14; 617.369.3300). And for a lively antidote to post-holiday good spirits, David Feltner's adventurous CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF BOSTON offers pianist Virginia Eskin playing Liszt's Malûdiction (Jordan Hall, February 6; 617.266.1626).