It’s that time of year again where nothing says “happy holidays” quite like the songs of the season. Continuing the celebrated tradition spanning over three decades, the Grand Rapids Symphony presents its annual Nestlé Gerber Holiday Pops orchestral and choral jubilee Thursday, Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 9 at DeVos Performance Hall.
Joining Associate Conductor John Varineau and the Grand Rapids Symphony for five performances will be the 140-voice Symphony Chorus under the direction of Pearl Shangkuan, members of the Symphony Youth Chorus led by Sean Ivory, and special guest, pianist and vocalist Tony DeSare.
Sponsored by Nestlé Gerber, this year’s collage of traditional and popular holiday favorites is punctuated with familiar elements including a visit from Santa, audience sing-along, and Handel’s exhilarating “Hallelujah Chorus” finale.
“We offer one of the best holiday treats in the city,” said Varineau. “It’s one of the great traditions of our orchestra. We give folks a fresh take on those timeless Christmas and holiday favorites performed by Grand Rapids own – a great orchestra, a great chorus with a great youth chorus and add a special guest just to spice things up.”
The concert opens with the world premiere of David Culross’ “Christmas Jubilate” written especially for this concert by the Grand Rapids-based composer. The Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus and special guest Tony DeSare will then perform seasonal songs and carols including “The Christmas Waltz,” “The Christmas Song,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as well as a special “Charlie Brown Medley,” sure to be a family favorite.
DeSare’s music has been featured in films, such as 20th Century Fox’s “The Tooth Fairy,” and on stages all over the globe. His jazz stylings and classical training have earned him praise from the “New York Times” and “USA Today” as one of today’s best young talents.
“Tony appeared with the Atlanta Symphony last year on their Christmas concerts to rave reviews,” shared Varineau. “‘The New York Times’ calls him ‘a Sinatra acolyte in his early 30s who sings Prince as well as Johnny Mercer.’” So imagine those three singers rolled into one and singing some of your favorite holiday hits.”
The concert’s second half features the Symphony Chorus performing a variety of carols, including “Deck the Halls” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” as well as Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
“I’m particularly excited about this year’s Nestlé Gerber Holiday Pops because we’re celebrating the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus’ 50th season,” said Varineau.
The Symphony Chorus has been an essential element holiday programs since it was founded in 1962. To commemorate the 50th season, the Symphony commissioned composer James Stephenson to write a work for chorus titled “Magnificat.” The text for the choral work comes from the joyous words that Mary exclaimed when she was told that she would be the mother of the Savior.
“Our audiences will have the rare opportunity to hear the world premiere of Stephenson’s “Magnificat” which I am sure will quickly become a standard work on holiday concerts throughout the country,” said Varineau.
December 6, 7:30 pm
December 7, 8:00 pm
December 8, 3:00 pm
December 8, 8:00 pm
December 9, 3:00 pm
Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder), or by calling 616/454-9451, Ext. 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are available at the DeVos Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased through Ticketmaster, 800/982-2787, online at www.grsymphony.org, or in person at Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Market and Family Fare stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee.
About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grammy-nominated Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is recognized as one of America’s leading regional orchestras. Led by Music Director David Lockington, eight concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony sponsors the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses, and also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit www.grsymphony.org.
These concerts are made possible with support from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts