Archive

ShareThis Page
Symphony fills Heinz Hall with holiday spirit, dance | TribLIVE.com
Music

Symphony fills Heinz Hall with holiday spirit, dance

Mark Kanny
| Friday, December 11, 2015 11:12 p.m

The Pittsburgh Symphony pulled out all the stops for its 2015 Highmark Holiday Pops, filling the Heinz Hall stage with not only the orchestra and Mendelssohn Choir, but bell ringers, vocal soloists and dancers.

Guest conductor Daniel Meyers got the festivities going by leading a grandiose arrangement of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” with the choir’s contribution underlined by powerful brass and timpani. Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival,” a medley of beloved holiday tunes, was more to my taste because nothing felt inflated.

The first of the contributions by Attack Theatre’s dancers was in Lucas Richman’s “Reindeer Variations,” in which each dancer portrayed one of Santa’s team with infectious personality and panache.

The new choreography for Ralph Vaughn Williams “Fantasia on Greensleeves,” on the concert’s second half, was a beautifully direct and affectionate duet for a man and woman.

Christopher Sanders was a big and boisterous Santa whose best work came when he visited children in the audience — faithfully recorded by the Santa Cam and projected on a screen above the orchestra.

The Holiday Pops concerts mark the solo debut of vocalist Chris Jamison, who found fame last year as one of the finalists of the television show “The Voice.” Ten years ago, he sang with a North Hills vocal group for a Holiday Pops with the late Marvin Hamlisch.

Jamison’s first number was Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind,” performed with his own added accents and backed by the symphony’s White Tie Group, a jazz trio with Harold Smoliar on piano, Jeffrey Grubbs on bass and Andrew Reamer on percussion. Jamison also sang a new song, showing how much he likes introspective singing, and collaborated with Sanders and the choir on “Silent Night.”

The Three Rivers Ringers opened the second half with “I Saw Three Ships” with the Mendelssohn Choir, with which they also performed “Carol of the Bells.” But their most impressive work was “The First Noel” in an arrangement for handbells only, showcasing both the soft beauty of their instruments and the skill with which the 18 musicians created smooth lines.

This concert will be repeated at 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 19, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 20 at Heinz Hall, Downtown. Admission is $24 to $99. Details: pittsburghsymphony.org.

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.