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Holiday Cheer concert unites MSU Orchestra and choirs

The MSU College of Music's Holiday Cheer concert is Saturday at the Wharton Center
Courtesy photo
The MSU College of Music's Holiday Cheer concert is Saturday at the Wharton Center

The Michigan State University College of Music will fill the Wharton Center with the music of the holiday season on Saturday.

Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker is just one of the Christmas season favorites for the annual Holiday Cheer concert.

The MSU Symphony Orchestra will be joined by more about 300 singers from the MSU Choral Union, State Singers and University Chorale.

Director of Orchestras Octavio Más-Arocas is looking forward to presenting an arrangement of O Holy Night for cello and orchestra that was written by MSU grad Chad Rehmann, who is now back in the area after working extensively in Hollywood.

Director of Choral Programs Sandra Snow has prepared pieces for this concert over the years. This time around, she’s excited about conducting one of the selections: John Rutter’s Gloria, which she describes as a “singular piece for the holidays.” She thinks the brass in the piece will be compelling for listeners.

“It’s a festive sounding piece, and uplifting. I think it just sets the mood for what people want to do around the holidays, which is come hear great music and feel inspired,” Snow said.

For Más-Arocas, the Holiday Cheer concert is an opportunity to explore a “Christmassy” program beyond religious works.

“We want to prepare people for a happy holiday and, independently of what they believe in, to come together and enjoy music,” Más-Arocas said. “Every concert, not only this but every concert, should be like that. Let’s enjoy this moment of coming together."

One of the holiday classics in the show will be Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. For many musicians, the annual event is a fun way to close out the year.

“It feels familiar and less pressured in some ways, more joyful and sort of spontaneous," Snow said. “Singers and players alike enjoy the opportunity to do this music that we know is impacting people so directly.”

If you’re wondering if Handel’s Messiah will be presented, it will be, just not the entire work. It wouldn’t be the holiday season without the Hallelujah Chorus.

The MSU College of Music Holiday Cheer concert is Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Wharton Center.

In the interest of transparency, we note that the MSU College of Music is a financial supporter of WKAR.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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