With Cradle of Fire: A Tribute to the Women of World War II, the Indianapolis Women's Chorus provides a program of significant content and sterling musicianship. This well-blended 44-voice chorus has the quality to go from robust women horsing around as a relief from tours of duty, to emaciated prisoners chanting relief from their dire oppression, to defiance in being silenced, to hymns of hope for a better world. IWC places you in the honesty of the human experience. Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's 'Classical Christmas' at Scottish Rite Cathedral is just one of many holiday choral events coming up.

A live recording of their June 26-27, 2004, concert, this CD also earns high praise for its liner notes.

We, of a certain age, remember with pride the women in uniform, in munitions plants and at USO Canteens. Even before Pearl Harbor, the Andrews Sisters inspired close harmony while maintaining individuality. Then, song stylist Vera Lynn made us believe birds could sing in the midst of Nazi bombings of London. Performed here by Sapphonia, IWC's nine-member ensemble, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" is a bridge to war's ugly side.

With "Largo," tears well and they don't abate for the next half hour of clinging to hope in the face of inhumanity. British, Australian, Dutch and Eurasian women and children were imprisoned by the Japanese in 1942. A decade earlier, Nazis in all parts of Europe began herding anyone different into concentration camps or slaughtering them outright in ghettos. "Cradle of Fire" shows faith in agony. "Shadows on the Rock" reminds us non-military women and children are vaporized with no public monuments in their memory.

"The Beauty of Your Dreams," commissioned for IWC's 10th anniversary, challenges us to care.

Cradle of Fire is on sale for $15 at the IWC "Star of Wonder" concerts at the Indiana History Center Theater, 450 W. Ohio St., Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 931-9464 or log onto

Season of song

Handel may have a choral corner on the holidays, but vocal offerings go well beyond Messiah. Here's an overview of what's available the rest of the season.

Marian College

* Christmas at Marian Madrigal Dinners

Dec. 9-11

955-6588; 955-6000

Butler University

Clowes Memorial Hall,

4602 Sunset Ave.

* Rejoice!

Dec. 10-11 at 7 p.m.

Free admission, ticket required


University of Indianapolis

Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, 1400 E. Hanna Ave.

* "Christmas Celebration"

U of I Choral Ensembles, Chamber Orchestra, Handbell Ensembles

Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 12 at 4 p.m.

$6-$10; 788-2135

Indianapolis Arts Chorale

Freemason Hall, 525 N. Illinois St.

* "Christmas Revels: A Celebration of the Winter Solstice"

Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.

$10-$20; 847-9673;

Indianapolis Women's Chorus

Indiana History Center Theater

* "Stars of Wonder"

Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 12 at 3 p.m.


Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Raymond Leppard, conductor

* "Classical Christmas" at Scottish Rite Cathedral, 650 N. Meridian St.

Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.

$48 and $54; 639-4300;

Christ Church Cathedral

Monument Circle

* Handel's Messiah (Parts I & II)

The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys; Festival Orchestra Chamber Ensemble

Dec. 12 at 4:30 p.m.

Free; 637-4577;

Indianapolis Children's Choir

St. Luke's United Methodist Church

* "Angels Sing"

Dec. 17-18 at 8 p.m.

* "Celebrate the Season"

Dec. 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Free; 940-9640;

Indianapolis Men's Chorus

Broadway UMC

609 E. 29th St.

* "Winter: A Season of Beginnings"

Dec. 18 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 19 at 3 p.m.