BY TOM LAVIS
Johnstown Symphony Orchestra will present stunning musical arrangements of cherished classical songs of the season and Christmas carols.
A healthy dose of Christmas cheer will be served during “Celebrate the Holidays” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.
The concert is a festive evening for the entire family, and will include two sing-alongs, holiday music, dancers and special guests, including the Johnstown Symphony Chorus and an early visit from Santa Claus.
Maestro Istvan Jaray, symphony music director and conductor, is looking forward to the holiday concert.
“It is always a joy to hear the orchestra and chorus play the audience favorites,” he said. “We want people to share the music as we help them get into the holiday spirit.”
The concert will feature Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Overture, Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Jessel’s “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” “Handel’s Royal Fireworks” and works by Strauss, Bizet and more.
Jaray called the upcoming program one of the most popular concerts of the season, saying it offers a respite from shopping, decorating and the other preparations of Christmas.
“It is a wonderful chance for families to escape all the hustle and bustle of the season,” he said.
‘Holiday mood music’
“The program is holiday mood music that gives people a break for a couple of hours to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday no matter what their religion. It’s a chance to celebrate and cherish human relationships.”
Special music that will be performed with the Johnstown Symphony Chorus includes selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, Johnstown Christmas Memories, including “The Three Little Elves” (Hardrock, Coco and Joe), “Suzy Snowflake” and “Frosty the Snowman” and two holiday sing-alongs.
“The first sing-along will be sacred Christmas carols, and, after intermission, the second will consist of more secular songs associated with the holiday season,” Jaray said.
Sam Coco, chorus director, said he is eager for the chorus to have the opportunity to sing with such a wonderful orchestra.
“The Christmas season is my favorite holiday time and being able to bring the gift of music to the audience,” he said.
Special time of year
“It will allow the audience to think about Christmas, family and the traditions that make this time of the year so very special.”
Aside from the Christmas performance, the 75-member chorus also joins the symphony on the stage during September’s Opera Festival and a spring concert.
“For the Christmas concert, maestro and I sit down and we each make suggestions about the program,” Coco said.
“We are singing a lot for this performance and we couldn’t be more pleased. We began rehearsing in September.”
The chorus will join the orchestra to present a medley titled “Christmas Carols in the Air,” which has an international flair featuring carols from Spain, the Caribbean, Ireland and Russia.
“These are carols we normally don’t hear,” Coco said.
The encore selection will be the “Hallelujah” chorus of “Messiah,” when it is customary for the audience to stand.
“It is said that when ‘Messiah’ made its London premiere, King George II stood,” Coco said.
“So what the king does, everyone else does, and a tradition was born.”
Sounds of season
What: Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and Chorus “Celebrate the Holidays.”
Where Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: 269-7200 or visit www.JohnstownSymphony.org.
Cost: $40, $35, $30 for adults and $15 for students.
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