There's lots of music to look forward to as we approach the end of winter. Here, in chronological order, are 10 events (just the tip of the iceberg) that I expect to sound as good as they look on paper.
DREAM FACTORY Marcus Thompson leads the Boston Chamber Music Society in “Exiled to Hollywood: Outcast Artists in Southern California” on January 21.
BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA | January 12-14 + 17
The season's concerts about which I was most excited were the two that were supposed to be the BSO debut of the distinguished Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly — one of the top contenders to be James Levine's replacement as music director. But he's had to cancel, and the BSO has come up with some intriguing last-minute solutions — one of which involves having no conductor at all. Another subject of much speculation for the job is the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, who stepped in for Levine at Carnegie Hall; he's just canceled his BSO Boston debut to be present at the birth of his first child. But the program I feel most confident about recommending is the one in which David Zinman leads the world premiere of John Harbison's Symphony No. 6. That program also includes Norwegian piano virtuoso Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven's delightful Piano Concerto No. 1.
Symphony Hall, 301 Mass Ave, Boston | $30–$110
BOSTON CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY | January 21
One of the most exciting musical events of the last few years has become the annual collaboration between MIT and the Boston Chamber Music Society, whose director, violist Marcus Thompson, teaches at MIT. This year, the topic of the Forum is "Exiled to Hollywood: Outcast Artists in Southern California," about the European composers who found refuge at the Dream Factory. The panel discussion is at 1:30; the concert, at 4 pm features chamber works and songs by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Toch, Eisler, Gruenberg and, one of the greatest of all film composers, Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Kresge Auditorium, 48 Mass Ave, Cambridge | $35; students free
CANTATA SINGERS | January 21
This esteemed and ambitious choral group, under music director David Hoose, always has something worthy and surprising up its sleeve. This program, intriguingly called "The Astonished Breath," doesn't have the usual Cantata Singers' Bach and Brahms (you'll have to wait till March for that), but two unusual pieces by two of the most fascinating composers of the 20th century: Alfred Schnittke's Concerto for Mixed Chorus and Arvo Pärt's Berliner Messe.
First Congregational Church, 11 Garden St, Cambridge | 8 pm | $20; student rush seats $10
RETURN ENGAGEMENT Jean-Marie Zeitouni leads the Handel and Haydn Society in Beethoven’s Eroica February 17 and 19.
BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL: TRAGICOMEDIA | January 28
Lutentist Stephen Stubbs, co-director of the Boston Early Music Festival, leads his excellent ensemble in an evening of stunning music that is shockingly still unfamiliar to us: early Handel cantatas. His Festival co-director, Paul O'Dette, and superstar South African fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout are among the stellar players. The singers are the excellent bass-baritone Douglas Williams and soprano Shannon Mercer.