POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — While the Ohio Valley Symphony is gearing up for its annual Christmas Concert, three locals are waiting to see which one will be this year’s “Maestro for a Moment.”
This year’s Christmas show will be a mix of classical Christmas tunes and “holiday pop,” along with other seasonal songs, said Lora Snow, executive director Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre.
The Christmas concert, sponsored by Holzer Health Systems, will be led by Conductor Steven Huang, who will also be conducting the March “Perfectly Parisian!” concert.
Snow said Huang has prepared two special arrangements for the concert including a “mystery melody” that will allow the audience to “name that tune.”
Huang’s noteworthy arrangements are something exciting for the audience, there will also be a familiar face showing up as “Maestro for a Moment.”
“Maestro for a Moment” is an annual fundraiser held by the Ariel Theatre giving some local familiar faces the chance to be a guest during the Christmas concert. The winning maestro is the one who collects the most votes through donations.
This year Holzer Hospital’s Dr. Joshua Bryant; Rebecca Honett, Bladen Landing Restaurant Bed and Breakfast owner; and Pleasant Valley Hospital’s Tasha Wyant-Gaskins are competing for the opportunity to conduct the Ohio Valley Symphony’s performance of “Sleigh Ride!”
The one who collects the most funds by the show’s intermission will conduct the performance.
“People can donate to their favorite maestro right up to and through intermission of the concert,” Snow said. “The winner is announced at the end of the concert and they get to conduct, ‘Slight Ride!’”
Returning to the Ohio Valley, Huang has conducted not only orchestras, but operas all across the world.
Huang is the founder and director of International conducting Masterclasses, Inc., which has trained conductors for two decades, according to the Ariel Theatre website.
With experience in conducting orchestras all over the world, teaching and guest performances Huang is currently working on a book about conducting the website said.
Huang first performed with the Ohio Valley Symphony for the annual Christmas show in 2018.
The Christmas Show will be Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wedge Auditorium at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
As always, Snow said the Ohio Valley Symphony is hosting open rehearsals on Fridays from 7-10 p.m. and from 1-4 p.m. on the Saturday of the concert.
“We make it a special point of having open rehearsals,” Snow said. “So Saturday afternoon dress rehearsal from one to four is a great time to bring young children, because children can always appreciate music, it’s always just a matter of how long can they sit still. Or if they get antsy.”
Snow said not only does this allow parents to bring their children for part of the show, but it is also the chance for those with conflicting schedules or those who may not want to drive late at night.
Having the open rehearsal policy is something Snow always wanted. She said eventually kids might sit through an entire concert, but until then they should still have the opportunity to enjoy the music.
Tickets for The Christmas Show can be purchased on the Ariel Theatre website.
The Ariel Theatre is currently under construction for a new HVAC system, moving the concert to the Wedge Auditorium.
Snow said all musicians are fully vaccinated. The audience is expected to wear masks and practice social distancing. Tickets can be purchased at the auditorium for general admission cost.
Those who wish to “vote” for the “Maestro for a Moment” can do so through the Ariel Theatre’s website or via check. Checks can be mailed to OVS PO Box 424, Gallipolis, OH 45631 or online voting at arieloperahouse.org.
Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.