"We like to do everything we can," says Suzana Cooper, lead recorder player of Sounds and Sweet Ayres, describing the ambitious agenda of the early music ensemble. It's a small group of musicians dedicated to an immense cause, from the revival of medieval and Renaissance music to experimentation with Native American Christmas carols.

Sounds and Sweet Ayres, performing its Christmas musical feast tomorrow night at the Takoma Cafe', is a quartet with a recorder, viola da gamba (the Renaissance and baroque version of a cello), a baroque flute and a soprano. Occasionally the ensemble has a guest artist -- this time guitarist Phil Harriman.

Tomorrow night's performance begins with the "Boar's Head Carol" from medieval England, followed by English and German Renaissance and baroque Christmas carols, including favorites such as "What Child Is This," Heinrich Schu tz's oratorio of the first Christmas and the "Pisa" of Handel's "Messiah." The evening continues with a jump to the New World and such less familiar sounds as the 18th-century American Indian carol "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime."

The show is sponsored by the House of Musical Traditions as part of its Monday night series of early music. It begins at 8 p.m. at Takoma Cafe'. For more information, call 270-9090.

Claudia Sandlin


If you stroll around the lobby of Fairfax High School before 4 p.m. today, your ears will be treated to the yuletide strains of the Fairfax City Band brass choir and flute duo. You'll also get free candy canes. Then at 4 p.m., go into the auditorium and sit back for FCB's 17th annual Christmas concert program.

"We've grown from a summer band to the point now where we play 11 months a year," says principal conductor Thomas Hill. "It's literally a community band -- the 90 performers' ages range from 11 to 70." --

The whimsical program will include the trombone choir playing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Scandinavian Christmas Rhapsody," arranged by Trevor Ford, and "March of the Toys" by Victor Herbert.

Fairfax High School is located on Rebel Run, south of Fairfax City. For more information, call 734-3427 or 385-7858.

Santa and his candy canes will also appear at 3 p.m. at the free Yuletide Festival Concert presented by the U.S. Navy Band and Sea Chanters at DAR Constitution Hall at 18th and D streets NW. For more information, call 433-2525.

Gigi Anders


Violinist Pamela Frank, a 20-year-old phenom, could look on her performance this Saturday with the New York String Orchestra under acclaimed conductor Alexander Schneider as intimidating. Instead she thinks of it as fun.

"It's really exciting," she says, "especially with Schneider because he's Old World, old school, and he has the exuberance of an adolescent. There's so much to learn from him." Frank joins cellist Peter Wiley in Brahms' Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A minor.

"The possibilities are endless ..." she says. "The violin and cello pass lines from one to another ... almost like a symphony."

Other works on the program include Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3 in G major and Haydn's Symphony No. 90 in C major.

The performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. For more information, call 254-3776.

David J. Marek


The Dance Place Student Company will strut its stuff at 4 p.m. at the Dance Place

in the premiere of a work by Carla Perlo, executive and artistic director of Dance Place, as well as other dances by choreographers Chuck Davis and Lesa McLaughlin. Six guest choreographers and their dancers also will present new works during the afternoon showcase.

Dance Place is at 3225 Eighth St. NE. Ticket prices are $11 for general admission and $7.50 for students, seniors and professional artists. For more information, call 269-1600.

Crystal Smith


With Irving Berlin approaching his 100th birthday, the Museum of American History will present "Let's Face the Music and Dance: Irving Berlin in Hollywood" at the Palm Court Sunday at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. It is the second in a series of programs focusing on Berlin's work.

Pianist Howard Breitbart will be joined by mezzo-soprano Cindy Hutchins for songs from musicals such as "Holiday Inn" and "Annie Get Your Gun."

The Palm Court Cameo series runs Fridays at noon and the second and fourth Sundays of each month, and will continue to explore Berlin's music in January and February.

For more information, call 357-2700.

Mairi N. Morrison