Sweep aside the crass consumerism, mindless bustle, canned Christmas “muzak,” and family tensions often rising to a pitch, and there’s one authentically good thing about the holidays – how it brings together people in song. Even if spontaneous neighborhood wassailing is hard to come by now (who wants to get busted for public drinking?), hundreds of millions around the world look to choral forces this time of year to embody ideals of camaraderie in pursuit of beauty, concord, and maybe even a spark of the divine.

Choirs sprout up wherever people come together, and the LGBT world is no exception. Baltimore is richly endowed with singing ensembles with deep community roots that can’t help breaking out in song during the holidays. If you haven’t heard them, now’s the perfect time!

Baltimore’s New Wave Singers (Newwavesingers.org) – which bills itself as “Maryland’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight mixed chorus, welcoming members of all genders, identities, and sexualities”   – will present its winter concerts Saturday December 7th at 7 pm at Epiphany Episcopal Church (2216 Pot Spring Road, Timonium) and Sunday, December 8th, 4 pm, at Grace United Methodist Church (5407 North Charles Street, Baltimore).  Now starting his second year, Artistic Director Tim Gillham will lead the 60-plus member chorus in “celebrating this season of light and dark with songs that are contemplative and frolicking.”

“In pursuit of our mission to honor and respect diversity, we have developed an eclectic collection of music that promotes justice, peace, and the celebration of life,” says Gillham, who helms the ensemble celebrating 35 years in 2020. “We sing music in a wide variety of styles, languages, and traditions each year. Through songs of hope, diversity, inclusion, and humor, we celebrate all of humanity in its infinite variations and challenge our communities to embrace equality, harmony, and understanding. Joining the chorus in his new position as accompanist is Christopher Schroeder. 

The Baltimore Men’s Chorus (Baltimoremenschorus.org), also celebrating 35 years, will present two winter concerts featuring – dig the gallantry! – music by women composers and arrangers.

The first performance of “Women’s Works” is Saturday, December 14th at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore (1 West Hamilton Street) from 6:30 to 8 pm. The second concert is Sunday, December 15th, from 6:30 to 8 pm at Memorial Episcopal Church (1407 Bolton Street, Baltimore).

There will be a guest performance by the newly formed Baltimore Women’s Chorus – which in 2055 will doubtless be celebrating its 35th anniversary! – as part of the concert.

With a tip of the hat to the Baltimore Men’s Chorus’s anniversary year, tickets to these winter performances are free, with donations welcome at the door or online. But do reserve a ticket beforehand: for the Saturday performance visit Bit.ly/35XPXlr. For the Sunday performance visit Bit.ly/2Lh0ss1.

Following the Saturday concert, join the Baltimore Men’s Chorus from 8 to 10 pm for a reception at Poets Modern Cocktails and Eats at Hotel Indigo (24 West Franklin Street, Baltimore). Hotel Indigo is the chorus’s season sponsor. The hotel is only two doors over from the First Unitarian Church. It will be an opportunity to meet the chorus and enjoy handcrafted cocktails, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the ensemble. For more info, visit Bit.ly/2qjx7WS.

As the saucy Gloucestershire carol wishes to all, “Happy wassailing, all over the town!”