Saturday, December 10, 2011

Philly Pops Holiday Concert 2011

Over the last bunch of years, it has become a tradition that Amparo has gone to the Philly Pops holiday concert with my Mom and brother Chris. Dad went in some years before it became too difficult for him to get around, and I believe Lori went to one or two of these as well. Last year, with Grace being older and Julia being able to sit still for extended periods, the whole gang went for the first time. I thought it was very nice, and the girls enjoyed it enough that they wanted to go again (see last year's post here). We continued this new tradition (new for me, anyway) by going to the matinee show this afternoon.

Like last year, the show was very entertaining. The holiday music program is cheerful, up tempo, and always has some interesting arrangements. Between the Pops Festival Chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas Gospel Choir, there is a good amount of variety, and the program is delivered with subtle humor by Peter Nero, who is also a tremendously gifted pianist.

The program itself was very similar to that of last year, as you might expect from a holiday show, and was a mix of jazzy and big band arrangements of the well-known holiday classics as well as a liberal dose of choral music. Each of the choral groups had chances to be featured individually, and also contributed throughout the show as the vocal component of a lot of the Pops' numbers.

Highlights of the show for me included the gospel choir, the full assemblage performing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, the bits where Peter Nero soloed on the piano, and everything involving the guest soloist, Ashley Brown. Ms. Brown is a 29-year old award winning Broadway performer best known for spending parts of 4 years in the title role in the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. She has an amazing voice, and contributed the funniest part of the show, which was a variation of Jingle Bells performed as an opera aria (it was intended to be funny...). Hilarious stuff.

At two and a half hours (with a twenty minute intermission), we got our money's worth, and everyone had a great time. I asked the girls afterward if they would like to do this again next year and they both said "yes", although Grace did ask if the show could be a little shorter next year...

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