virtual advent tour: holiday concerts

Virtual Advent TourWelcome to Day 19 of the 2013 Virtual Advent Tour! I’m pleased to be a part of the tour this year. Special thank you to hosts Kelly and Marg for including me (visit their blog for all the posts, and my fellow Day 19 poster Heather @ Capricious Reader today).

For my advent post, I’d like to talk about holiday concerts. Confession: I’m not too much of a “Christmas person.” My favorite holidays are by far St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Super Bowl Sunday (what? 🙂 ). But one aspect of the holiday season I do have a lot of fun with is participating in holiday concerts around the Kansas City metro.

For the past seven or eight years I have been a member of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra (currently as principal bassist), and we always have a holiday concert titled Sounds of the Season. This one has grown and grown every year, so much that now it’s a two-concert series (Friday and Saturday). We typically play a wide variety of holiday favorites:

  • Leontovych: Carol of the Bells
  • Traditional: The First Noel
  • Anderson: A Christmas Festival
  • Anderson: Sleigh Ride
  • Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a
  • Holcombe: Festive Sounds of Hanukkah
  • Reed: Russian Christmas Music

I always liked Russian Christmas Music because it has a great bass part, and I appreciate our music director’s acknowledgement of other religious holidays as well (Festive Sounds of Hanukkah). This year, we only played Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite—trading off movements with our guest the Washburn University Jazz Band playing Duke Ellington’s arrangement of Nutcracker. It was really great to experience two strikingly different versions and the crowd loved it!

Kansas City Civic Orchestra

(That’s me—the bassist in front, wearing yellow.)

I’m also in two more local orchestras, Heritage Philharmonic and Kinnor Philharmonic. Heritage’s holiday concerts usually include a children’s choir, and we’ve also played familiar classics (Silent NightO Come All Ye Faithful, etc.), even ranging into medleys of holiday movie music (Home Alone theme, A Charlie Brown Christmas, etc.).

Kinnor Philharmonic is the premier Kansas City Jewish orchestra, now in its third year. Kinnor has an annual New Year’s Day concert to start of the year with inspiring, hopeful music. This time around we’re playing Strauss waltzes and marches (The Blue Danube, Kaiser Waltz, Egyptian March), Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Weber’s Oberon Overture, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, and the Allegretto (last movement) of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (which you’d recognize from Disney’s Fantasia film).

Outside of these orchestras, I’ve taken gigs playing bass for various churches around the holidays, most recently for Handel’s Messiah (on my birthday, December 8!) and I’ve played Fauré’s Requiem around this time of year in the past, too.

In addition to playing concerts myself, I also end up reviewing holiday performing arts offerings in the Kansas City area for my online arts journal, KCMetropolis.org. Here are a few favorites over the years:

I have found so many great, fresh twists on holiday standards every year attending local arts organizations’ holiday events, and I urge you to do the same in your town!

Happy holidays and a merry musical new year! 🙂

14 thoughts on “virtual advent tour: holiday concerts

  1. that is a great way to spend your holiday season, playing beautiful music. What a gift to share with those around you. My daughter is a pianist and also does percussion. I love it when she participates in the community orchestra. I enjoyed your advent post very much. Have a Merry Christmas. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun! Most of the concerts I see at this time of year are of the school band variety. It would be nice to see something a bit more professional at some point. Thanks for joining in on the tour!

    • It’s great! I would guess there are community orchestras (non- or semi-professional) just about everywhere. I hope you’re able to find one and get to some concerts! Civic and Heritage here in KC have free-admission concerts, so maybe other community orchestras do that, too. Have a good one! 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed reading your articles and the wide array of performances you saw. We just saw a Revels performance of music from Thrace last week, which was really a nice and different take on a holiday performance..

  4. This is awesome! They have a Jewish orchestra? I have never heard of that before! But I guess it’s perfect for the holidays. I personally am not a fan Christmas music (maybe being brought up Jewish has something to do with it) and think most of the songs are so gimmicky, and start being played on the radio WAY too early. But I do enjoy the classical holiday music!

    Thanks for linking up to my Spread the Love Linky Party – I’ve also pinned this!

    • Oh I agree with you on the Christmas music (and I’m Roman Catholic! well… not devout anyway).

      Kinnor Phil is a great ensemble—they do music by Jewish composers, feature local Jewish musicians as soloists, stuff like that. 🙂

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