Guide to Local Symphonies’ Holiday Performances

December 5, 2011 9:00 AM

(credit: Steven Laschever)

By Joanne Greco Rochman

It is music that stirs the soul and serves up extra helpings of holiday spirit. If you’re looking to really celebrate this holiday season, then get thee to a pops concert or symphony orchestra. When the holiday season arrives in Connecticut, no matter where you go, you’re going to hear the sounds of the season. That’s because music is not only a part of every holiday tradition, but music enhances the experience.  In December, schools, churches, shopping malls and even grocery stores make it almost impossible not to hear some rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” and the glorious strains of Handel’s “Messiah.”  Throughout the chilling days of December, Connecticut’s pops concerts and symphony orchestras warm the heart and raise the holiday spirit to new heights.

newhavensymphony williamboughton Guide to Local Symphonies’ Holiday Performances

Conductor William Boughton (credit: New Haven Symphony Orchestra)

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra
105 Court Street, Suite 302
New Haven CT 06511
(203) 865-0831, ext. 21

When it comes to enjoying classical music during the holiday season, then one must experience Handel’s “Messiah.” Written in 1741, this masterpiece plays out in churches, schools and parks all over the world during the Christmas season. It has been reported by scholars that it took Handel only 24 days to write this piece, which has been described as “text painting” or “word painting.” The most famous part of the “Messiah” is the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Biblical scholar Ben Witherington wrote that when Handel got to the “Hallelujah Chorus” his assistant found the composer in tears and uttering: “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”  Not surprisingly, many Christians and music aficionados make attendance at the “Messiah” an annual event. Happily, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of William Boughton, and with the glorious voices of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph Schola Cantorum will perform the complete version of this masterwork on Dec. 9 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. On December 15, the orchestra will perform the Christmas portion of this epic including the “Hallelujah Chorus” at Elim Park in Cheshire.

It’s a “Holiday Extravaganza – A Victorian Christmas” that finds the New Haven Symphony Orchestra Pops Celebration traveling to Hamden Middle School on December 10, and Shelton Intermediate School on December 11. Conductor Jerry Steichen knows just how to capture the holiday season by presenting a mixture of Victorian charm, along with the beautiful sounds of the Elm City Girl’s Choir. Topping off the event, is an audience sing-a-long. No wonder this is such a popular musical event.

norwalksymphony jonathanyates Guide to Local Symphonies’ Holiday Performances

Music Director Jonathan Yates (credit: Norwalk Symphony Orchestra)

Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
83 Wall Street, Suite 1
Norwalk, CT 06850
(203) 956-6771

The Norwalk Symphony Orchestra will present a “Holiday Extravaganza” on December 17 with the Southern Connecticut Camerata and its director Vincent Edwards. On the program are guest artists and pieces by Bizet and Vivaldi . Vaughan Williams “Fastasia” on Christmas Carols, Lucas Richman’s Hanukkah Medley and his Christmas Sing-Along will have audience members’ voices joining the celebration.  In addition to the holiday songs, popular works that are favorites any time of year will also be performed.

This orchestra was founded in 1939 as primarily a community orchestra composed of volunteer musicians from the Fairfield County area. It is now a “passionate group of professional musicians” and still a vital part of the community.

hso carolynkuan Guide to Local Symphonies’ Holiday Performances

(credit: Steven Laschever)

Hartford Symphony Orchestra  
99 Pratt ST. Suite 500
Hartford, CT 06103

It’s almost impossible to leave out Tchaikovsky’s timeless “Nutcracker Suite” from the holidays. And so the beautiful Belding Theater is the site for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s “Holiday Masterworks.” Guest conductor Richard Coffey will lead the orchestra and the Hartford Chorale in selections that include Glinka Overture to Russian and Ludmilla, and Vaughan Williams’ Hodie.

The Hartford Pops will present “Holiday Pops! Spectacular” on December 10 at Mortensen Hall with Carolyn Kuan conducting (read our story on Carolyn and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra). This is a family event that becomes the stuff memories are made of.

Joanne Greco Rochman is the arts editor of “The Fairfield County Review,” a columnist, critic, feature story writer and English professor. Her work has appeared in “The New York Times,” “The Republican-American” and Hersam-Acorn Publications.

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