Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes

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Britten Chamber Festival

Celebrate the music of the great English composer Benjamin Britten in an immersive weekend at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, Saturday, Dec. 19 and Sunday, Dec. 20. The three concerts, presented by Emmanuel Music under the direction of Artistic Director Ryan Turner, will feature The Five Canticles and a Phantasy Quartet. Each concert will be pre-ceded by a pre-concert talk by Dr. Imani Danielle Mosley at 7:30 p.m.

The events will be streamed on

Visit for complete concert programs.

Advent-Christmas at Trinity Church

Trinity Church at 206 Clarendon St. has planned a season of magic, surprise and hope to support everyone during these difficult times. In a very merry mix of familiar and creative celebrations marking the arrival of Immanuel, the incarnate God with us – in this year, as always – they invite people to share in the all the frivolity and solemnity of these holy days as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 19

- 5:30 p.m.: Opening Night of Candlelight Carols (Facebook Live and

- 6:30 p.m.: Debut of “Candlelight Carols & Christmas Peek” with Lighting of Trinity Church & Ice Sculpture Nativity (Copley Square near the Phillips Brooks statue)

Sunday, Dec. 20 – Thursday, Dec. 24

- 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. daily: Candlelight Carols & Christmas Peek (Copley Square) Boston City Singers, conducted by Jane Money and Matthew Leese, will join the program, along with Trinity Church Choirs and Choristers

Thursday, Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve

(All services will include Boston City Singers, conducted by Jane Money and Matthew Leese, will join the program, along with Trinity Church Choirs and Choristers)

- 4:30 p.m.: Christmas Pageant (Zoom)

- 7 p.m.: Festival Worship (Facebook Live and

- 11 p.m.: A Christmas Compline (Facebook Live and

Friday, Dec. 25 Christmas Day

- 6 a.m.: Christmas Day Radio Hour (a podcast featuring Christmas music, lessons, and reflections)

Saturday, Dec. 26 – Wednesday, Jan. 6

- 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., daily: Candlelight Carols & Christmas Peek (Copley Square) [Closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1]

Visit for more information.

Chorus pro Musica’s Candlelight Christmas

Chorus pro Musica’s annual Candlelight Christmas, an annual Boston tradition, will be virtual this year and include everything people have come to know and love: candles; sing-along-carols; the Old South Organ; Silent Night; Joy to the World; beloved holiday classics and new works blended with some previous CpM classic recordings from years past, illuminated by stunning images, and more.

Go to for more information and registration ($15 to $40; includes access to A Virtual Candlelight Christmas, plus a PDF of the program and carols.).

Access to the virtual concert will be e-mailed on Saturday, Dec. 19. The concert will be accessible for one week through Saturday, Dec. 26.

‘An American Christmas’ concert

The Boston Camerata will present An American Christmas concert, sung this year in the beautiful setting of historic Old North Church in Boston, available online from Sunday, Dec. 20 through Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The program will feature works from the early years of the American republic, and from a wide range of early tune books and manuscripts, a generous selection of carols, New England anthems, Southern folk hymns and religious ballads for the season.

Visit for more information and tickets ($10 to $45).

Baroque Christmas

Handel and Haydn Society Principal Keyboard and Associate Conductor Ian Watson will bring light and warmth to the cold Boston winter with a special program of music fit for the season.

Performed by members from the superb H+H Orchestra and from Boston's beautiful St. Cecilia Parish, this concert will be presented via stream online.

Subscribers and donors who give more than $100 will automatically be sent a link for a complimentary performance and post-concert Q&A with musicians slated for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20.

Others may access the public premiere of this concert slated for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22 by registering, with a suggested donation of $10 to defray costs of production and help compensate the musicians.

Visit for more information and registration.

Handel's Messiah for Our Time

In collaboration with GBH, the Handel and Haydn Society invites everyone to join them for a special televised and streaming performance of Handel’s Messiah, an uplifting and joyous experience for a holiday season unlike any other. The program will include Handel: Messiah, Part I and “Hallelujah” Chorus.

Premiering at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20 and available throughout the holiday season, the concert will be broadcasted on GBH Television Channel 2 and WGBY in Springfield. Also streaming on social media channels for GBH and H+H, including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

This triumphant concert is their free gift to the community, for all to enjoy.

Barre en français

Exercise your body and your vocabulary. Join the French Cultural Center for a barre class that will help people to focus on strength, core stability, flexibility, muscle control, posture and breathing from the comfort of home.

French instructor Chloé Mizuta will guide participants in their practice from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21 via Zoom.

All levels of French and barre are welcome. When registering, tell them your level of both so they can tailor the program to fit all needs.

Visit for more information and reservations (Member - $7; Non-member - $10).

Toys for Tots collection

New, unwrapped toys to benefit the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots program can be dropped off at Lilly Pulitzer, 133 Newbury St. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Donations via check can be sent to: Toys for Tots Coordinator, 21 Drydock Ave., Box 21-810W, Boston, MA 02210. You can also make a donation online.

Go to for more information, including the link to donate.

Facebook Live: Story and a craft

What will people create today? Children, ages 4 to 8, are invited to join the Boston Public Library for a live-streamed story time and craft from 3 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22 and Jan. 5 at www/

Mary Baker Eddy Holiday Gift Drive

Mary Baker Eddy Library, alongside The First Church of Christ, Scientist and The Mother Church Sunday School, is collecting new items for five impactful groups through the end of the year:

- Casa Myrna (Household Goods/School Items)

- Project R.I.G.H.T. Inc. (Warm Coat Drive)

- Toys for Tots MA (Toys)

- School on Wheels Massachusetts (SOWMA) (School Supplies)

- Cradles to Crayons, Boston (Kids Essentials)

Visit to learn more about each organization and links to donate. All donations are tax-deductible.

2020 Christmas Shop

Christmas Shop needs support to help bring hope and joy to those most in need during the holiday season. Ways to help:

– Provide new gifts and clothing (no food items) to individuals and families in need in Boston - View Wish List online

– Volunteer to help with sorting items and packing them for recipients (adults only).

Go to for more information.

Christmas Eve/Day with Emmanuel

Everyone is invited to virtually attend the Christmas Eve and Day services at Emmanuel Church on YouTube at

Christmas Eve - Dec. 24

- 7 to 7:30 p.m. - pre-recorded organ and choral offerings including Emmanuel Music's recording of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

- 7:30 p.m. - Festival Holy Eucharist with BWV 151 - Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kömmt offered by Emmanuel Music, Ryan Turner conducting.

Christmas Day – Dec. 25

- 10 a.m. - Holy Eucharist service with music by Emmanuel Church organist, Kevin Neel

For more information, visit and/or

Christmas Eve by candle light at Arlington Street Church

“O, Come All Ye Faithful!” - The Arlington Street Church will hold their Christmas Eve services at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.

The services will feature Director of Music Mark David Buckles, all their staff musicians and the Boston Gay Men's Chorus.

There will be caroling; Rev. Beth's nieces will join her for A Visit from Saint Nicholas; and Rev. Kim will preach A Light Will Shine. Candle lighting is a highlight of both services.

All are welcome. Join by video at or by phone 929-205-6099. Meeting ID is 812 8369 0266.

Christmas at Old South Church

During this holiday season, Old South in Boston will provide a variety of virtual programming as follows:

Christmas Eve Services – Thursday, Dec. 24

- 5:00 p.m. Candlelight Family Service: In lieu of their beloved in-person impromptu Christmas pageant, the ministers will don costumes and perform a delightful rendition of this classic story. The program is perfect for children and adults alike.

- 8:00 p.m. Candlelight Service of Lessons & Carols: An elegant telling of the Christmas story in carols and readings with music for choir and organ, culminating in the singing of Silent Night. They encourage viewers to light candles in their homes along with them.

- 11:45 p.m. Candlelight Communion: A warmly traditional service with festive carols, traditional lessons and the singing of Silent Night at midnight. Be sure to prepare some wine/juice and bread for Communion.

Christmas Morning – Friday, Dec. 25 at 10 a.m.

This brief service will feature a special Christmas blessing. If you're still in your pajamas or dressed your Christmas best; if children are bouncing off the walls or if you're spending the day alone – you are welcome at this service.

Jazzy Lessons & Carols – Sunday, Dec. 27 at 10 a.m.

Join in for All-Church Worship, featuring the soulful tunes of the Willie Sordillo Ensemble and chances to sing along to your favorite Christmas songs.

Hop online at, and have yourself a merry little Christmas with Old South Church in Boston.

Holiday Small Works: 2020

Featuring work from their membership of more than 300 artists, Holiday Small Works 2020 is one of Copley Society of Art’s most anticipated exhibitions each year. This traditional holiday show offers hundreds of affordably-priced small artworks in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, mixed media and photography.

The artworks will be on view through Friday, Dec. 25 at the Co|So’s Gallery, 158 Newbury St. and virtually at

Gallery temporary hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.; Mondays by appointment.

Give the gift of membership – now through January

Give the gift of membership this holiday season. This gift will ensure that the beloved parks - the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall - remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at

Book Group for Adults on the Spectrum: ‘The Portable Veblen’

An online book discussion group for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger syndrome, and related conditions or who identify as such will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, hosted by the Boston Public Library and the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE).

The group will discuss The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie.

Visit for more information and the link to Zoom.

Facebook Live: Story and a Snack

Follow along with the Boston Public Library librarians as they share stories and show you how to cook up a delicious snack from 3:30 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, Jan. 12 and Jan. 26 at

‘Time Capsule: Art of the Forties’

Time Capsule: Art of the Forties is planned as one of Childs Gallery’s last exhibitions at its 169 Newbury St. location, before moving to 168 Newbury. Looking forward to the gallery’s next chapter has inspired them to reflect on the past. With Time Capsule they take a look back at the decade that saw the gallery’s last change of address: the 1940s.

Time Capsule: Art of the Forties provides a snapshot of a decade of transition in American art. Drawn from Childs Gallery’s holdings, the exhibition includes paintings, drawings, and prints of the period and includes examples of Regionalism, Social Realism, Abstraction, and Expressionism. The exhibition also features work by many of the gallery’s longest represented artists who were working during the decade, such as Herbert Barnett, Jason Berger, Henry Botkin, Bernard Brussel-Smith, Donald De Lue, Molly Luce, Ben Norris, Anne Powers, and Dudley Vaill Talcott.

This exhibition will be on view through Thursday, Dec. 31.

Go to for more information.

‘The Struggle for Freedom’

Boston Public Library and National Park Service will present The Struggle for Freedom: Patriots of Color at Bunker Hill at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

The American Revolution was an era-changing historical earthquake. The speakers will introduce you to three local African American militiamen (Caesar Ferrit, Prince Estabrook, and Cato Smith) who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Their stories reach across the centuries, speaking to us today about their struggle for freedom.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Let’s Cheers Together: Apéro spécial Nouvelle Année!

Bonne année! Join the French Cultural Center from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7 to celebrate the New Year via Zoom.

Participants will discuss their hopes for 2021, their bonnes résolutions and how they spent the holidays. During this online festive moment, the group will learn how to prepare a tonic cocktail (with or without alcohol) and how to make an elegant cheesy appetizer from scratch (recipes on website).

L’Apéritif is a staple in daily French life. The rules are really simple: share a drink, eat some snacks, and chat! It’s an interactive event; they invite you to participate. The event will be en français.

Visit for more information and registration (Members - $5| Non-members - $10).

RBG Memorial Concert

The Boston Wagner Society will present an online concert dedicated to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8.

The program will include excerpts of Brūnnhilde, including the Immolation Scene with soprano Jenna Rae and pianist Hugh Keelan.

Go to for more information and registration ($12).

Family Book Club (on Zoom)

Book lovers entering Grades K through 3 and their families are invited to join the monthly Family Book Club from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9 on Zoom. Discover new chapter books, chat and tackle book-inspired games and crafts.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.


The Boston Street Railway Association, Inc. (BSRA) typically meets on the *first Saturday of the month at 7:30 p.m. with a short business meeting followed by an entertainment program. Everyone is welcome to attend this online gathering.

*Their next meeting will be on the second Saturday of the month (Jan. 9) to avoid conflict with the New Year’s Day holiday.

MBTA 3.0 – *Jan. 9

Back by popular demand, Byron Nash will give another presentation of contemporary photos and videos of transit in around Boston. From the new Orange Line cars to the latest closure of Lechmere Station, and everything in between.

The BSRA online store is open.

Rollsign, a bi-monthly publication on New England transit news and history, is also available.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Coat Boston

City Mission is collecting new, unused coats in all children’s sizes and all teen sizes (including adult men’s and women’s) that will be given directly to Boston schools and organizations that serve low-income families.

Coats can be purchased and delivered to and/or ordered online and send directly to the

Coat Collection Center, First Parish Westwood, Attn: City Mission, 252 Nahatan St., Westwood, MA 02090.

Go to for more information.

Career skills

Gary Gekow, a seasoned Senior Employment Specialist/Career Coach, will present a Career Skills group – focusing on a different topic each week – from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, hosted by the Boston Public Library.

Visit for more information and registration.

Monday Mettā

Join Rev. Kim at the Arlington Street Church at noon on Mondays for a half hour of lovingkindness meditation. She will give brief instructions, and the group will join in sending lovingkindness to ourselves and to the world. No meditation experience necessary.

Join with video at or participate by phone by dialing 929-436-2866. For either option, the meeting ID is always 895 886 6876.

New Parent Group (on Zoom)

Looking for a way to meet other parents with infants? Need support from experts while navigating new challenges? Have questions about childhood development, parenting and early literacy?

Join the Boston Public Library’s New Parent group on Zoom. The group will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. on (most) Tuesdays for an informal – and informative – program for families with infants, birth to 12 months. The group will meet on Dec. 22.

There will be guest speakers visiting each week to speak about a variety of topics, including diapering, napping, feeding, early communication and general wellness for parents and infants. There will also be time before the guest speaker arrives so people can connect with other new parents and get early literacy recommendations from the librarians.

Visit for more information, including a weekly speaker/topic and registration.

The Buddhist book discussions and meditations

Buddha's Belly and Arlington Street Meditation Center (feel free to come to one or both) meet via Zoom on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

6 p.m. Buddha's Belly: a book discussion group that explores a variety of books from Buddhist teachings. All are welcome.

7 p.m. Arlington Street Meditation Center: these gatherings include seated meditation, a brief reading from Buddhist teachings, and conversation. Beginners and experienced meditators from all traditions (or none!) are warmly welcome.

Visit for more information and links to attend.

Jackbox party gaming for teens on Twitch

A small team of the friendly Boston Public Library teen librarians will be using their newly-minted Twitch stream to host a series of wacky, irreverent online party games from the Jackbox suite - all of which are designed to be played by large audiences.

Kids in 6th through 12th grade can visit TWITCH.TV/BPLts from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through December and use their phone or internet-enabled device to join the game, joke around in chat and even recommend the next game.

Visit for more information and registration.

Tween Time (on Zoom)

Tweens, ages 8-12, are invited to join librarians for games and activities from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays over Zoom. There will be something different every week and it’s a great way to hang out with kids your age.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Virtual Jazz Coffee House

The Virtual Jazz Coffee House, featuring the Willie Sordillo Ensemble, will be live streamed from the Old South Church in Boston from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at

The Bach Cantata Series 2020 – 2021

The Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music, conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Turner, has returned to Emmanuel Church for the 2020-2021 Bach Cantata Series. As they were originally written for worship services, these cantatas are presented at the culmination of the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., where Emmanuel Music is the Ensemble-in-Residence. The series will be held through May 9 with a special presentation of Christmas Eve.

Those aiming to hear just the cantatas are welcome to join at approximately 11 a.m., but both organizations encourage all to join at any time during the service with the motto that “the longer you are here, the more you will hear.”

The services are open to all with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

The service including the Bach Cantata will be streamed live on Emmanuel Music's and Emmanuel Church's Facebook pages.

For more information, visit and/or

Esplanade explorer activities packet

If you're looking for a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon on the Esplanade, register to receive the Esplanade Explorer Activities Packet filled with a scavenger hunt, Eye Spy Bingo, ice cream and more – available through Thursday, Dec 31.

The packet is filled with outdoor activities that you can do on your own time while being physically distant. Any donation will support the Esplanade Association’s work to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain its natural green space, and provide educational, cultural and recreational programs for everyone.

Register at ($10).

Once registered, you will receive the Esplanade explorer activities packet via email.

Participants will also be registered to win a gift card to either Trident Booksellers and Café or Boston Swan Boats.

Future Readers Book Club and events

The Boston Public Library will host the Future Readers Club for children, ages five years and younger, and their caregivers, with a goal of reading 1,000 books together before the child begins kindergarten.

Register at to keep track of the books you read together and earn badges for your young milestones at

In addition, the BPL offers an assortment of programs as part of the Future Readers Club to engage children in stories, songs, finger play and crafts.

Visit for more information and registration to each event.

Genealogy for the next generation

Several free, easy-to-do fun activities that will keep kids entertained and get them thinking about their family history are available at

These exercises are designed to teach critical skills while encouraging kids to explore their personal connection to the past. Studies show that young people who know facts about their heritage have a stronger sense of self, which can help them perform better in school and life.

Big Sister mentoring

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide award-winning (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister and Little Sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit

Support the Esplanade Association

The Esplanade is the stretch of public green space that extends for three miles one way along the Boston shore of the Charles River from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University (BU) Bridge.

In addition to providing a beautiful natural landscape, the park is home to the iconic Hatch Memorial Shell, various historical monuments, recreational facilities and more than five miles of pathway for walking, running or biking.

Please consider making a donation to the Esplanade Association to help keep the green space thriving and the activities alive.

People’s support of Esplanade Association is more critical than ever before, especially since the annual Moonlight Gala was canceled and this event typically makes up 50 percent of their operating revenue. All donations are tax deductible and people can use any means to send their support, including Donor Advised Funds.

Visit for more information and links to donate.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information

Boston Eats will continue to provide free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth –

18 years of age and under – through Dec. 31. No ID or registration required.

Visit or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations and other information. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens is also included.

Visit for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

If you need additional food resources, contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333.

‘Dream Boston:’ Five-minute audio plays

Welcome to Dream Boston, a future vision of this city that is somewhere between dream and reality, powered by the Huntington Theatre.

Through short audio plays, Dream Boston asks local playwrights to imagine their favorite locations, landmarks and friends in a future Boston when everyone can once again meet and thrive in the city.

Visit for more information and links to listen on your favorite podcast platforms.

Boston Ballet

Enjoy a variety of behind-the-scenes videos, virtual choreography, performance clips, and articles on along with exclusive, ballet videos posted Mondays through Fridays at and/or

Support Boston Ballet at

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs need help

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs under the umbrella of Ecclesia Ministries at Emmanuel Church (15 Newbury St.) needs partners to help them serve the increasing number of homeless and underserved during this critical time.

There are three specific ways that you can help make a difference:

1) Donate supplies listed on their Amazon account.

2) Donate individually wrapped homemade or purchased sandwiches, soft fruits and granola bars.

3) Donate your time, your treasures (donations) and your prayers – they are always welcomed and valued.

Visit for other information, including links to keep this mission alive.

Friday Night Supper Program emergency appeal

The Friday Night Supper program (FNSP) at the Arlington Street Church – the longest running program in Boston – has served more than 13,000 meals a year to more than 130 guests from all over Boston since 1984.

Your donations make a difference in the lives of people in need, whether through philanthropic dollars or individual gifts of money, clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Help fill the gap with their Emergency Appeal so they can continue their mission.

Visit to make a donation.

Support Women’s Lunch Place

Women’s Lunch Place, 67 Newbury St. continues to serve women while maintaining all three of their core services areas – healthy meals, direct care and advocacy.

WLP is open every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and provides one take out package that contains a nutritious breakfast and lunch with extra snacks to sustain their guests.

Women’s Lunch Place needs donations – money, gift cards, toiletries, underwear and other basic necessities – to keep their mission going.

Visit for more information.

‘BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception’

From 17th century attempts to woo European settlers to the New World with maps that exaggerated natural resources, to a 2019 Sharpie-enhanced weather map designed to reshape the politics of disaster planning, maps and visual data have always been tools for manipulating reality.

In a wide-ranging, year-long initiative comprising exhibitions, programs and educational activities, “BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception” at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map & Education Center (Copley Square), offers a critical look at how to understand the world as it appears in geographic representations.

The show features historical and contemporary documents and interactive displays designed to show visitors the power of persuasive mapmaking and will be on view through May 2021.

Visit for more information.

Here's the Christmas Day menu at the Hotel Vendome in 1896. The guests dined on such dishes as timbales of lobster a la Neptune, turkey breast, sweetbreads pique, mousse de foie gras, Medicis, Mongrel Goose, Lalla Rookh Punch and marshmallow ice cream. The Vendome Column is embossed in silver inside the menu. The Hotel Vendome burned down on June 17, 1972. Nine firefighters were killed during the final stages of extinguishing a fire. The Hotel Vendome was on the southwest corner of the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street in the Back Bay. Learn more at