ESO's Magical Holiday Concert features classic favorites
This weekend, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will welcome the Elgin Master Chorale, the Elgin Children's Chorus, the Midwest Dance Collective and Miss Illinois 2014, operatic soprano Marisa Buchheit, to present an evening of Christmas music, both familiar and new, current and traditional.
"Magical Holiday Concert" performances take place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13, at the Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin.
"Christmas concerts are all about singing, so there are all kinds of singing," said maestro Stephen Squires, conductor in residence with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. "From the Elgin Children's Chorus, the Elgin Chorale, to our soloists, one of which is Miss Illinois, I try to choose a variety of holiday favorites, always representing a little on the classical side."
Buchheit, who holds a degree in opera and vocal performance from Cleveland Institute of Music, will sing a variety of music selected by Squires.
"I love what he chose. He chose some classics, like 'Silent Night,' 'The Christmas Song,' 'The Little Drummer Boy' and 'Ave Maria,'" she said. "It's a nice mixture of sacred melodies, touching music and also there are fun numbers that will be great for every one to sing along with."
Squires is fully aware that the Christmas concert is one where children can happily attend and participate and chooses some of the music with them in mind, especially that of the Elgin Children's Chorus.
"They love to see other kids singing; that's a cool thing for them and carols are songs they've heard, presumably."
Children aren't the only people who love familiar music, according to Squires, but one of the symphony's goals is to present something new to the listener's ears.
"People need to be opened up and hear new music," said Squires. "For example, we're premiering a piece for orchestra and chorus by a British composer who lives in Dallas."
The composer's name is Andrew Wainwright and his work blends both the traditional and the new.
"It does utilize carols and music people will recognize," said Squires. "But in a unique and artful way. It will be cool because no one's ever heard it before."
Squires realizes that some holiday music can be overdone.
"The holiday concert doesn't have anything that's super long in it," he said. "That way if there's something you don't like, it's four minutes and it's on to the next one. So it's more like a variety show that way."
In that vein, along with Buchheit and the Elgin Children's Chorus, the orchestra will welcome the Midwest Dance Collective.
"They're performing three selections to 'The Nutcracker' and their own choreography to the 'March of the Toys' from 'Babes in Toyland,' which is a nice visual."
The Elgin Master Chorale, which has coupled with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra for decades, will often take the stage during the presentation, according to Andrew Lewis, music director of the 90-member organization.
"We're doing some amazing arrangements of Christmas carols," Lewis said. "Gary Fry has put together some carols in a lush beautiful arrangement for the orchestra and chorus."
The Chorale will celebrate its 70th anniversary next year, according to Lewis.
"We're the oldest performing arts organization in the Fox Valley," he said.
Attendees can expect an evening of singalongs, Christmas songs, old and new and a variety of talent highlighted by the ESO.
"It's about pacing and variety," said Squires. "There's something for everyone."
However, ticket sales are brisk, according to Buchheit. Even the surprise visitor from the North Pole might be out of luck if he doesn't act quickly.
"Tickets are selling fast," she said. "They tend to sell out for the holiday concert. It's a fun family event."
If you goWhat: Elgin Symphony Orchestra's Magical Holiday Concert
When: 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13
Where: The Hemmens, 45 Symphony Way, Elgin
Details: Call (847) 888-4000 or visit elginsymphony.org