Rossen Milanov

is playing Santa this season, leading the

Philadelphia Orchestra

in two splendid holiday programs. With the ensemble's brass and percussion sections, he'll offer a diverse program of carols, Baroque masterpieces and holiday gems, beginning with "Spirit" by local composer Jennifer Higdon, on Tuesday at the Kimmel Center. Guest

Ken Cowan

performs on the Fred J. Cooper organ.

Thursday and next weekend, Milanov batons the orchestra and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale in the annual "The Glorious Sound of Christmas." His podium marathon continues with Holst's "Christmas Day," excerpts from Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from "Christmas Eve" and Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" from "Prince Igor," thrusting audiences into the season with real sonic splendor.

The busy Milanov will warm up by leading Symphony In C (formerly the Haddonfield Symphony) tomorrow in "Winter Legends." We're triply lucky to have this local treasure on both sides of the Delaware.

Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce streets, brass and percussion concert, 7 p.m. Tuesday, $45-$75; "Glorious Sound of Christmas," 7 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 21-22, $33-$103; 215-893-1999, "Winter Legends," 8 p.m. tomorrow $15, $25, $40, Gordon Theater, Rutgers University, Camden, 856-429-1880.

- Tom Di Nardo