Friday, December 14, 2007

joyful and triumphant

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra presented the first of four Clayton Holiday Concerts tonight. The remaining shows are Saturday at 3:00 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. The concert has become an annual tradition for our family. My wife sings on stage with the Knoxville Choral Society. As usual, the opening number was the "Christmas Festival Overture." I love the feeling I get during it, especially as the music and voices swell at the "O Come All Ye Faithful" part near the end of the medley.

The Choral Society was in fine voice even without the members who are performing in the Holy Land this month. Their second song, "
Welcome All Wonders," had that modern dissonant sound that I don't love. My wife says the song takes some getting used to. My son, who has heard her sing along with the practice CD in her car, agrees that it get better after you've heard it a few times.

Perhaps it's because I've been going for several years in a row but the 21st Annual Clayton Holiday Concert had a very comfortable feel to me. Past years' shows felt a bit more ambitious. For example, a few years back they presented parts of a play that Maestro Lucas Richman had written. Those pieces needed more room than is available with a full orchestra and choir already on stage. "A Christmas Wish" deserves its own staging rather than being shoehorned into an annual tradition. Last year and the year before the program included featured soloists, some better than others. In addition to the Choral Society, this year's show had return appearances by the Appalachian Ballet Company and the best singing Santa you'll ever hear. Mr. Claus was featured on "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silent Night." Santa and Maestro Richman always get laughs with their playful banter.

Even the new performers felt familiar to me.
Thanks to Katy Wolfe Zahn's affiliation with the Symphony, the members of Sound Company get to perform at bigger events now. My daughter was in the Oak Ridge based children's show choir during her senior year in high school. I recognized their red sequined vests instantly. The kids sang on five songs including "Must Be Santa" and "Grown-up Christmas List."

At the end of the first half, my son asked why we all stood during the "Hallelujah Chorus." He wondered if it was a Southern thing. I told him to look at my blog entry from two years ago.

The second half began with Lucas Richman's Hanukkah Festival Orchestra. I enjoyed the upbeat music, especially the recognizable "Dreidel Song." Am I wrong to have wished he had included a few bars of Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song" in the medley too?

A photo montage was shown on two large screens during the Choral Society's excellent performance of "White Christmas." The performers were invited to submit holiday pictures from their families. We saw ourselves thanks to my wife, who emailed them a picture from last Christmas. We all stood again for the Christmas sing along. Overall, the show felt relaxed and the performers made it look easy. At the end of two hours, I was left wanting more.

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Blogger Barry said...

My son and daughter are both in Sound Company, and it gave me a great feeling seeing them on stage in front of such a huge audience. I told them I've always loved performing in front of big crowds because there's something gratifying about being a part of something that pleases so many people at once, and that you can hear their immediate feedback in applause and see their smiling faces.

They've had a great time in Sound Company and we've come to really enjoy getting to know Katy Wolfe Zahn. In fact, her little boy and my little girl are in the same class at school and, though Tink vehemently denies it to the point of tears, are "boyfriend/girlfriend". Ah, young love...


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