'Tis the month before Christmas

And throughout the region,

Musicians are playing;

Their numbers are legion.

It seems that anyone who knows how to sing or play an instrument is planning to celebrate the holidays in some fashion. More than a dozen concerts during the next three weeks will feature seasonal favorites and new pieces with holiday themes.

Handel's "Messiah" is the most popular musical offering this year. At 8 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Trinity United Methodist Church, the McLean Choral Society will present a "Messiah" revised by music director Thomas Beveridge. He prepared his edition with an eye to baroque performance style, employing a small chamber ensemble, including Russell Woollen at the keyboard. The Alexandria Choral Society has planned one performance of the "Messiah" with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra at T.C. Williams High School at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and three performances alone at the Virginia Theological Seminary at 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 20.

The Amadeus Orchestra also will include excerpts from Handel's masterwork in its 8 p.m. concert Dec. 12 at St. Catherine's Church in Great Falls. The program also will include Handel's "The Water Music" and the area premiere of Peter Hamlin's "Christmas with Mr. Grump" especially for children.

Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia is offering world-premiere performances at 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday of Seymour Barab's "Who Am I" at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Barab is one of the top composers of children's opera.

The McLean Symphony presents Daniel Pinkham's "Christmas Cantata" in concert at McLean High School Dec. 20. The 4 p.m. program includes a trumpet concerto by Georg Telemann, and "Rhapsody for Saxophone" by Claude Debussy.

The McLean Orchestra will be joined in its concert at Langley High School at 7 p.m. Saturday by WGMS radio personality Renee Chaney and WRC television commentator Bob Ryan, who will assist in the narration of "The Littlest Angel" and the Christmas Story According to St. Luke.

On Dec. 13 and 14, the George Mason University Symphony, Symphonic Chorus and University Chorale join forces for a program directed by Col. Arnald Gabriel, chairman of the performing arts department. The 8 p.m. concert will consist of music by Johann Kuhnau and "The Many Moods of Christmas," arranged by Robert Shaw.

The Alexandria Harmonizers' Christmas concert is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday in the Lee Center in Alexandria.

The Arlington Symphony Orchestra has devised a program titled "Christmas Waltz" for Dec. 20. The 3 p.m. concert at the Kenmore Junior High auditorium will include Ravel's "La Valse," Richard Strauss' "Rosenkavalier Waltzes" and Johann Strauss' "Vienna Blood."