Roving Pittsburgher Review
Highmark Holiday Pops 2012
By Good News Reporter, Hank Walshak, The Communications Expert for Experts
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Pittsburgh native, Daniel Meyer, delivered a Christmas, musical tour de force to a packed house on the evening of December 20. Whether you were a fan of classical music or not, you couldn’t help but be wowed by the musical portrait of Christmas he put together for this Highmark Holiday Pops.
|25' tree in lobby of Heinz Hall added to festivities.|
The program contained something for everyone. Renditions of “O Holy Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Silent Night” satisfied one’s traditional, musical taste. Lesser known, but captivating melodies, like “Many Moods of Christmas,” “Lully, Lulla, Lullay,” and “The Wexford Carol” lifted our Christmas spirit with their lilting refrains.
In true, Pittsburgh fashion, we, the audience, got to sing along as our cherished, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, under the direction of Betsy Burleigh, boomed out the “Hallelujah Chorus” from the “Messiah,” “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” and “Deck the Halls.”
And the solo performers—ah, the solo performers—they left nothing to be desired. Their artistry rang Christmas bells in each of our hearts
Christopher Sanders, the renowned baritone, played Santa Claus, who spoke, “Ho, ho, ho,” as he strode among us, and spoke in hushed tones with children in the audience. His softer expressions belied his booming, on-stage renditions of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” reminiscent of Burl Ives.” One could easily image Christopher’s vocal strength and eloquence leading legions into battle.
The sonorous sounds of Grammy nominated violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker, breathed new life into the “Carol of the Bells” with the Mendelsohn Choir of Pittsburgh, “Ding Don Merrily on High” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” She moved through nuances, glissandos, and arpeggios in a way that truly distinguished her playing from other violin impresarios.
Rachel DeShon, 2001 winner of Marvin Hamlisch’s “Search for a Star,” redefined the art of the soprano this evening. Her timbre and animation set her apart as she gave voice to the timeless favorites, “Christmas Eve in My Home Town,” O Holy Night,” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
A Highmark Holiday Pops just wouldn’t be the same without Rick Manning, Pittsburgh native and detective with the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office. He paid homage to our Christmas tradition with his animated interpretation of “Christmas Magic.” Hearing him just this once, made me yearn to hear his rendition of “Danny Boy.”
To cap off the program, he joined the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh in singing the seasonal favorite, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
All in all, this Highmark Holiday Pops by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Mendellssohn
Choir of Pittsburgh, and these virtuoso soloists defined the standard of Christmas musical
expression for years to come. What better legacy to leave in memory of our beloved Principal
Pops Conductor, Marvin Hamlisch.
What a joy to have attended this endearing, musical event.
Communications Expert for Experts
Be read. Be heard. Be seen.
Walshak Communications, Inc.