Holiday POPS, our WSO tradition

I really want to welcome all of you for our upcoming holiday celebration, our annual Holiday POPS, on Saturday December 16 at 8 pm.

As usual the program will be varied, fun and entertaining. This year we welcome famed soprano and Waltham personality Molly Jo Rivelli. Molly Jo is fantastic and an absolute asset to the community. She is well known in the community as the director of the MJ Music School in Waltham. She is also very active in the Boston area, being a director at the Boston School for Performing Arts and soloing with many groups and orchestras.  The first part of the program will be mostly operatic with excerpts from works by Puccini, Handel, Mozart and Mascagni.

We will also welcome for a return performance three amazing young soprano soloists from Waltham, twin sisters Alexandra and Alfreda Anthony Raj and Lily Massa. We are very happy to also welcome Waltham's Our Lady's Academy Youth Choir. The choir is lead in a very expert fashion by Thomas Mark Fallon. Thomas is an internationally renowned contratenor singer with an outstanding pedigree. He has performed extensively in the US and Europe, singing under major conductors and with major orchestras. In addition to his singing career and his private voice studio. Thomas also teaches music at Our Lady's Academy and as noted conducts its youth choir.

Our Holiday programming is diverse and eclectic.  I believe in a programming concept that mixes well-known works from the symphony repertoire with Strauss Waltzes, Leroy Anderson Christmas arrangements, operatic excerpts from different periods and different composers and many others. Programming for a POPS concert is not as easy as people would think. It is like preparing a very complex dish where all the ingredients have to mix well with each other somehow and yet the taste of each of the dishes is special and unexpected. Before anything else it has to be fun for all. It is a family concert, where youth is present and often well represented on stage, let it be with a youth choir, or a junior string ensemble joining the orchestra for some Christmas Carols.

There would not be a Holiday concert without the usual sing-along and audience participation. We have at the WSO a well-established tradition of incorporating 20th century popular Christmas songs (Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song-Chestnuts roasting on the open fire and others) with traditional Christmas Carols and seasonal tunes from other traditions. Our tradition of singing the Boston POPS version of Leroy Anderson's Christmas Festival will be respected again this year along with our very much awaited encore, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh RIde.

The concert is usually well attended. Make sure to come early as it is an open-seating configuration in the auditorium.

See you there and Happy Holidays to all.

I will expand in a future post on the art of programming. It is something that is not always taught in Conservatories and Music Schools and yet it is one of the most important things a conductor will have to accomplish throughout a career.