Christmas with Maestro Kunzel

Sleigh-bells ringing. Horses clopping. Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolf the Reindeer, and good ol’ St. Nicholas too! It was that and more at A TSO Pops Christmas. It was a delightful evening with Erich Kunzel, who happens to be a wonderfully charismatic and humorous conductor.

There was a good mix of songs (from American Christmas classics to more traditional Christmas hymns, to music from the movies like Polar Express and Home Alone) as well as styles. Jingle Bell Rock got a great jazzy swing band touch to it while Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Reindeer boogied through the auditorium onto the stage. The Ukrainian Bell Carol (or Carol of the Bells) was performed by a real handbell ensemble (Bronze Foundation Handbell Ensemble). CBC’s Tom Allen narrated ‘A Visit from St. Nick’ (’twas the night before Christmas…) while accompanied by the TSO. Baritone Daniel Narducci gave a beautiful rendition of one of my favourite Christmas songs, Silver Bells. The Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus came decked out adorably like characters from a Charles Dickens novel (A Christmas Carol, perhaps?). And the Mississauga Choral Society lent their vocal chords too.

But the highlight of the evening has got to be the sing-a-long at the very end. The sold-out audience in Roy Thomson Hall united our voices as Erich Kunzel animatedly and very charmingly conducted us to sing O Come, All Ye Faithful, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to The World, and Silent Night. The evening closed as the Mississauga Choral Society led us all in singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and by then there seemed to be grins on everybody’s faces. Tingfang and I were both feeling very fuzzy and Christmasy by the sing-a-long *grin*.

Best part of it is, I paid only $12 because we got tsoundcheck tickets!! Yeah, we got cheap seats, we were seated practically above the orchestra itself. And while we may lose out on acoustic advantage, I had a ball of a time watching the choir and the orchestra, and of course Maestro Kunzel’s animated conducting. It’s the very first time I attended a concert and was able to see the conductor’s facial expression! And it was definitely FUN!

I’m definitely psyched to attend TSO’s other Pops Concerts next year, Hollywood: The Epics and The Magical Music of Disney. But first, I’m going to attend TSO’s and The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s performance of Mozart’s re-envisioned Messiah next week with my visiting family. I just hope some of them don’t fall asleep!

Here are some Christmas pieces from Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra:

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas with the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year with the Indiana University Singing Hoosiers

Silent Night with King’s Singers

Silver Bells with John Pizzarelli

The Christmas Song with Tony DeSare

Is it getting you into a Christmas mood yet? :P

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