Essential New York: Classical

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  • The Knights

  • Photograph: Jeff Goldberg/Esto

    Carnegie Hall

  • (Le) Poisson Rouge

The Knights


Music Before 1800
There's no rule that says you can't take a friend along to concerts in this long-running early-music series, but the resonant acoustics of Corpus Christi Church will deliver you into your own personal solitude as you bliss out to Renaissance vocal music or Baroque concertos. Few other venues can claim this fusion of strong programming and quality auditory surroundings. Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121st St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway (212-666-9266, mb1800.org). Held eight Sun between Oct and April; next performance Sun 7 at 4pm: Diabolus in Musica. $15--$40.

(Le) Poisson Rouge
Just a little more than two years old, this music hot spot still feels shiny and new. Its sustained freshness can be attributed in part to the club's chic decor and progressive attitude, but far more to the fact that artists—who represent contemporary classical music, jazz, indie-rock, electronica, dance, world music and more—are creating previously unheard sounds nightly, and you're part of the inner circle. 158 Bleecker St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts (212-505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com)

The Knights
An indie orchestra made up of young hotshots from a variety of backgrounds, including violinist and alt-pop vocalist Christina Courtin, the Knights are equally comfortable bringing fresh life to classics by Mozart and Schubert or tackling newly composed pieces. Listening to the group is a welcome reminder that you don't have to throw out what's great about the past to forge a trail toward the future. Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 W 37th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (347-746-3610, theknightsnyc.com). Jan 11, times and prices TBA.

The Frick Collection
Hearing chamber-music performances in the intimate concert hall of this East Side museum is probably the closest most of us will get to attending an invitation-only soiree in some royal benefactor's salon. Plus, the music series here—held on 10 Sundays between October and May—has an uncanny knack for booking debuts by artists who go on to superstardom, a testament to high quality you can depend on. 1 E 70th St at Fifth Ave (212-547-6875, frick.org). Nov 14 at 5pm: Doric String Quartet; Dec 12 at 5pm: Colin Balzer, tenor; and Erika Switzer, piano. $30, museum members $25.

Metropolitan Opera
Divas and cognoscenti kvetch that something has been lost in the Met's new air of welcoming inclusiveness, exemplified by such initiatives as webcasts and live screenings. Let the haters talk: This quintessential company has never been more invigorated or more affordable, thanks to those programs and to subsidized rush seats in the opera house's prime sections. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center Plaza at 65th St (212-362-6000, metopera.org)

Carnegie Hall
The world's greatest orchestras, ensembles and soloists have beaten a path to 57th and Seventh for generations, and with good reason: No other presenter offers as wide a variety of musical talent—from the Pinchas Zukerman and the New York Pops to James Taylor and Angelique Kidjo—and no other halls sound as good as Carnegie's Isaac Stern Auditorium, Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall. 154 W 57th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org)

Handel's Messiah at Trinity Church
For roughly two weeks every December, you can find a performance of Handel's seasonal oratorio pretty much every night at venues around the city. But in addition to a compelling historical connection (the church hosted the New World premiere of Messiah in 1770), this stately sanctuary has a choir that could make the heavenly hosts jealous. Broadway at Wall St (212-602-0800, trinitywallstreet.org). Dec 12 at 3pm, Dec 13 at 7:30pm; $30--$50.

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