GALLIPOLIS — With Thanksgiving falling late in November, the holiday season will seem a little more hectic this year. Instead of feeling frantic, though, take a warm-hearted breather December 7 with the The Ohio Valley Symphony’s annual “Christmas Show.”
The Dec. 7 concert is at 8 p.m. in the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre in downtown Gallipolis. Once again, Holzer has partnered with the orchestra as the evening’s sponsor.
OVS Music Director Ray Fowler has collected enough musical presents to fill under the biggest tree. He and the orchestra will unwrap them in a program featuring old favorites — both carols and winter holiday songs — and some surprises that audience members will be adding to their list of favorites.
The evening will culminate in the annual Maestro for a Moment fundraiser when candidates Stan Evans, Sammy Lopez and Choudhary Rayani will vie for the chance to conduct the OVS. The winner is the one raising the most money by intermission.
Among the traditional carols will be arrangements of “Good King Wenceslas” (two of them for good measure), “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “What Child is This?” The traditional German carol “While By My Sheep” dates to the 1600s; it will be heard in an arrangement by the popular American Leroy Anderson.
The most famous — and ancient — Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” gets double play, through a modern arrangement by Todd Hayen and with Ottorino Respighi’s 1927 “Adoration of the Magi,” one of three short pieces inspired by the Renaissance paintings of Sandro Botticelli. Just as haunting is “I Wonder as I Wander,” written a thousand years later in Appalachian North Carolina.
The OVS performed two movements of Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s “Carol Symphony” in a previous Christmas Show. This year, audiences get to hear its third movement, adapted as the theme to the BBC dramatization of the children’s classic book, “The Box of Delights.” It uses the tunes of “The Coventry Carol” and “The First Nowell” for its material. Hely-Hutchinson in the 1940s was head of music for the BBC.
Songs from America’s holiday traditions will include “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Sleigh Ride.” There’s also Steven Amundson’s “Angel’s Dance,” which Fowler describes as “a shower of colors.”
As part of The Ohio Valley Symphony’s mission to bring live, professional, orchestral music to the region and to instill a love of music — especially in children — the public is encouraged to attend OVS rehearsals for free at 7-10 p.m. Dec. 6, and 1-4 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Ariel Theatre. Open rehearsals are a great way for young and old alike to grow familiar with symphonic music, and they offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at the preparation of an orchestral performance.
Concert-goers have another unique opportunity to make a personal connection with the music. Thomas Consolo, OVS assistant conductor and program annotator, offers a free pre-concert talk in the third-floor Ariel Chamber Theatre, just upstairs from the concert site. The casual get-together will put a more personal face on the night’s music, and he’ll answer any audience questions about the program, the OVS or orchestral music in general. The talk begins at 7:15 p.m.
Concert-goers will have the opportunity to meet the musicians and share some Christmas treats at the reception immediately following the concert in the second floor banquet room. There will be an art exhibit by Danielle Milam, wife of OVS percussionist Scott Milam.
Tickets and more information are available at the Ariel-Dater Hall box office located at 428 Second Ave. in Gallipolis, Ohio; by phone, (740) 446-2787 (ARTS); and through the OVS website, www.ohiovalleysymphony.org or arieltheatre.org.
Additional funding for The Ohio Valley Symphony is provided by the Ann Carson Dater Endowment. Further support is provided by the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically, with funding by the National Endowment for the Arts.