Dear Symphony of the Hills friends,
“Christmas Gift!” The first time I heard this traditional southern holiday expression was when my wife’s family would surprise other family members with that exclamation on Christmas day. Countless times over the years, I have been the happy recipient of someone yelling out the words,
“Christmas Gift!” on Christmas morning. Some holiday seasons, I have actually planned out my own surprise “attack” by faking sleep and then yelling those words to anyone entering the room.
“Christmas Gift” expresses the joy shared in thanksgiving for this holy time of year.
The Symphony of the Hills “Christmas Gift” performance on December 5th in the Kathleen C. Cailloux Theater will be a thrilling musical expression of joy and thanksgiving. One of the most brilliant and exciting works we will perform on this concert is the
Suite from Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet “The Nutcracker.” I’m not sure I can name one other piece of music that better exemplifies the excitement, the colors, the anticipation, and the thrill of the Christmas season.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) loved writing music for ballet, and he had some incredible partners with the world-renowned choreographers and dancers of St. Petersburg. While
Tchaikovsky’s ballet itself did not become a hit overnight, his music did. Some of the most popular selections from the ballet were organized into concert suites, resulting in a setting you will hear performed by the
Symphony of the Hills on December 5. The movements included in this suite are the: 1)
Miniature Overture, 2) Dances including the March, Sugar Plum Fairies, Trepak, Arabian, Chinese, and Reed-Flutes, and 3) the famous
“Waltz of the Flowers.”
Dr. Eugene Dowdy
Our centerpiece for the December 5th
Symphony of the Hills concert is Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria featuring the
Grand Symphony Chorus, directed by the Rev. Don McAvoy, and two outstanding vocal soloists,
Shannon Earle, soprano, and Dr. Susan Olson, mezzo-soprano. This spectacular work for chorus, two voice solos, and orchestra is the masterpiece of
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), the so called “Red Priest” who lived and worked in Venice, Italy as a priest, teacher, and violinist. While
Vivaldi is perhaps most famous for his Four Seasons violin concertos, the
Gloria is one of his greatest works. Vivaldi brings the joy of the
Gloria text alive through his beautiful music and clever dialogue among the orchestra, chorus, and soloists. Since
Vivaldi was a very active composer of opera in the early 18th century, his music has a sense of drama, excitement, and suspense. While you will be impressed by the
Grand Symphony Chorus’s ability to sing the full Gloria in Latin, from the opening
Gloria in excelsis Deo to the final Cum Sancto Spiritu, we will happily provide a translation for you in the program!
Finally, the Symphony of the Hills is honored to present a special setting of
Christmas carols by Hal Hopson, which will be conducted by the composer. We will finish out the
“Christmas Gift” concert with a classic work from the Jewish tradition,
Havah Nagilah, and then wrap up the evening with Leroy Anderson’s beloved
On behalf of the musicians, board, and patrons of the
Symphony of the Hills, we say “Christmas Gift!” and hope that you, your family and friends will join us at this wonderful performance. It is our hope that you will receive more than you give through your attendance at this special concert.
With sincere wishes for a blessed Christmas season.
Dowdy, Associate Conductor
Symphony of the Hills
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