Posted December 10, 2010 | © Photo courtesy of Dallas Symphony Orchestra
You know the highly anticipated scene ... you see it at home and on television each year.
The familiar Christmas landscape with its jingling bells, glistening lights on strands of garland, snowflakes gently falling through frosty air, Burl Ives on the radio, the smell of pine needles and sugar cookies ...
Well, that’s just about what the Meyerson Symphony Center was like on Thursday night, complete with the telling of the Nativity story, a sprinkling of “tiny tots with their eyes all aglow”, candy canes for the young and old, and even a touch of ‘snow’.
With a triumphant introduction by the brass section quite apropos for the holidays, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Celebration opened amidst an audible buzz by patrons dressed in festive holiday attire; and if you didn’t know before that Christmas is on its way, you might surely know now.
With all the necessary elements for the season’s traditional musical experience, host and conductor Lawrence Loh (Resident Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and champion of early childhood exposure to music) had his hands full as he led the orchestra along with the 140 or so members of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the Christmas Celebration Children’s Choir, and internationally renowned organist Mary Preston.
The night’s featured solos of accomplished soprano and native Texan Ava Pine (pronounced AH-vuh) incited that “sentimental feeling” as her angelic voice wafted through the air in such a sweet way that one might’ve thought the whole Meyerson was floating up off its foundation.She sang “My Dancing Day” with dreamy Celtic style; and her rendition of “White Christmas” was delivered with a classic, composed demeanor as graceful and gorgeous as the 1930’s Bing Crosby era style of fashion she displayed.Accentuated under the stage lights donned in a silky, white, floor-length gown with fur shoulder wrap, she was, as Lawrence Loh described her, ‘luminescent’.You can catch Ava again in February 2011 as she sings the role of Juliette in the student matinee performances of The Dallas Opera’s Romeo et Juliette.
The DSO adult choir interjected a few animated fa-la-las into the evening’s concert, but their cheerful yet tranquil presentation throughout the program consisted mostly of soothing, almost solemn, reverent tones - a very welcome, relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the otherwise busy season.
The kids of the Children’s Choir have obviously taken their craft seriously as well, and their youthful but refined voices were showcased beautifully as they were backed by strong, clean brass sound during “The Angel and the Trumpeter” and gentle strings including harp highlights as they sang “Away in a Manger”.
As always, the DSO stringed instruments were a show in themselves, especially as their fiery, synchronized bows danced energetically during Bizet’s “Farandole”.Keep an eye on that first chair violinist though - his peppy bow carries along a little extra jazzy ‘umph’.
Perched intermittently on the balcony above the orchestra, DSO Resident Organist Mary Preston played a spunky version of “Emmanuel” that boomed from the Meyerson’s impressive 4,535 pipe Lay Family concert organ.Mary serves as Organist and Choirmaster at St. John’s Episcopal and school in Dallas, and offers a free organ recital once a month, schedule permitting, at the Meyerson which is often followed by a tour of the symphony center.
The DSO’s Christmas Celebration was not without a few surprises.An invitation to participate in audience caroling is extended (the seated, no pressure kind - more of a ‘sing-a-long-if-you-want-to’), and a surprise appearance occurs by a very special guest.We won’t mention his name, but let’s just say that he was wearing more red velvet and white fur than all the fancily dressed little girls in the audience combined.
Not too old-style-wooden-bench ‘church-y’ and not too holiday-madness ‘commercialized’, this traditional, heartwarming Dallas Symphony Orchestra production lies somewhere in the warm, just-right, gooey center.
For more information about this and upcoming Dallas Symphony Orchestra concerts, see the links below; and have a wonderful holiday season!