The week's Christmas music gets off to a rousing start this afternoon with the annual Christmas carol sing-along at Wolf Trap and reaches a climax Sunday, in the National Symphony's (and the Oratorio Society's) "Messiah," with repeat performances continuing through Monday. Other groups offering Christmas programs include the Cathedral Choral Society (this afternoon at the Washington Cathedral), Musikanten (this afternoon at Mount Vernon College), the Masterworks Chorus (Friday night at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church and Saturday night in All Souls Episcopal Church (Chevy Chase Circle), the Washington Pro Musica (Saturday night in Christ Episcopal Church, Rockville), the George Mason University Chorus and Orchestra (Saturday) in the university's Harris Theatre) and the Gay Men's Chorus (Friday and Saturday nights at the Church of the Epiphany).

A seasonal opera, "The Other Wise Man," by Rob Passow, will have its first performance tonight in North Chevy Chase Christian Church.

Other concerts of the week include the Forough Duo (violin and piano), today at the Phillips Collection; the Catholic University Symphony Orchestra, tonight in Ward Recital Hall; the Euterpe Chamber Players, tonight at the Reston Community Center; the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the Hall of Musical Instruments; the D.C. Youth Orchestra, Wednesday night at the Organization of American States; a piano trio (Peter Frankl, Gyorgy Pauk and Ralph Kirshbaum), Friday night at the Library of Congress; and the Madrigal Singers of the Washington Cathedral, Saturday afternoon at the Cathedral. DANCE

A highlight of the Glen Echo Dance Theater Annual Faculty Concert at the troupe's Glen Echo Park Studio tonight is a new work, "Trapped," by Pola Nirenska, to music by Philip Glass. Sampler Dance Performance Benefit, at Tracks (First and M streets SE) tomorrow night, offers more than a dozen Washington and New York troupes and individuals in a program to benefit the Dance Place in its new move to the Brookland area. The Washington Ballet kicks off its annual run of "Nutcracker" at Lisner Auditorium starting Friday evening; guesting in the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier for the first four performances will be former WB members and Joffrey Ballet principals Patricia Miller and James Canfield. The New York troupe of Bebe Miller makes its Washington debut at the Dance Place Friday through Sunday, capping a two-week residency as part of the National Performance Network. POP MUSIC

England's latest hot new thing, pop punksters Jesus and Mary Chain, perform at the 9:30 club tonight. Don't be late: They play for 20 minutes and disappear.

Sade, smooth operator that she is, brings her soft jazz-pop to Constitution Hall on Monday.

The brilliant jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis brings his current quintet, minus former members Branford Marsalis -- Wynton's brother -- and Kenny Kirkland, to Blues Alley, Tuesday through Sunday.

Antonio Carlos Jobim, a founding father of the bossa nova movement and one of Brazilian music's most treasured resources, gives only his third American concert in 10 years at Constitution Hall on Wednesday.

Guitars abound at the Barns, with Larry Coryell, Laurindo Almeida and Sharon Isbin sharing the stage on Friday, and Takoma Park native John Fahey appearing solo on Saturday.

Gordon Bok, Ed Trickett and Anne Mayo Muir, three key figures in the current folk revival, bring their fine songs and finer vocal empathy to Georgetown University's Gaston Hall on Saturday.