KENNETT SQUARE—It was a dark and stormy night when the Kennett Symphony presented their “Holiday Concert” on December 1, 2018 in the spacious East High School auditorium in West Chester, PA. Patrons were grateful for the many directional signs leading to the concert.
The music in the program led slightly on the popular side, but as played by the orchestra with verve and musical expertise, it was a resounding success. (Including guest artist soprano Kara Mulder and the Kennett Symphony children chorus (with 86 singers) under the direction of Eileen Keller).
Symphony president Paul Merluzzi welcomed the audience and mentioned that the Kennett Symphony was one of 12 nonprofit to receive a grant from the Chester County Community Foundation. (This was out of 1804 contenders)
The first piece was a Christmas Overture that moved smoothly from one carol to another. This was followed by Victor Herbert’s classic March of the Toys which alternated styles of music which led one to visualize the toys marching in part of it and tip-toeing through the rest. The next piece (selections from the Messiah) introduced the audience to rising opera soprano and former first place winner of Kennett Symphony Orchestra Competition, Kara Mulder. Her voice and stage presence were excellent and when she sang with the combined chorus and orchestra her voice could be heard clearly over them.
The orchestra played 5 selections from Tchaikovsky’s, the Nutcracker ending with the ever popular Waltz of the Flowers. Music director Michael Hall gave a brief history of the Nutcracker and the fact that it was a “flop” when first introduce because of the dancing but became the familiar and beloved Christmas favorite after being reprogramed by Balanchine in the early 1950’s. Tchaikovsky did not live to see the success of his work.
Soprano, Kara Mulder returned to accompany the Orchestra in a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria: the first half of the program closed with a medley of familiar Christmas songs.
The second half of the program featured the 85 members of the Kennett Symphony Children’s chorus under the direction of Elen Keller assisted by Paige Seaton, Marci Major and Nancy Line burger. The second half showcased the ever popular Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson with the orchestra playing at break-neck speed while snapping their fingers in unison while the timpanist cracked the horse whip, sleigh bells and finished with the neighing of a horse. Music director Michael Hall explained to the audience that this obviously wintery song inspired Anderson as he repaired his outdoor watering system on a very hot summer day. To the amusement of the younger members of the audience, appearances were made by The Grinch (Chris Jones) during How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause.
The Festive concert ended with an encore by the orchestra which Director Hall said “had no connection to the Holiday Season but was a fun number to play and listen to”.
This very successful program certainly gave a happy beginning to the Holiday Season.