Frederick Symphony Orchestra doubles up on popular holiday pops concert

December 20, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

FREDERICK, Md. - A year ago the Frederick Symphony Orchestra turned away people from its annual holiday pops concert, including the music director's brother, because the show was sold out.

Music Director Elisa Koehler still hopes to sell out this year's holiday pops concert, but for the first time the orchestra will hold two performances ? one Friday night and one Saturday afternoon at Frederick Community College's J.B. Kussmaul Theater ? to give more people an opportunity to enjoy it.

"It's a big hit for us, and we always like doing it," Koehler said. "The orchestra has a lot of fun with it."

Members of the approximately 80-piece semiprofessional/volunteer orchestra have planned a surprise for the audience toward the end of the show, but Koehler would only divulge it revolves around festive attire.


The first half of the concert will feature the string section, with guest soloist Lisa Vaupel, performing Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons."

Vaupel is the principal second violin of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Opera Company Orchestra and Live Wire String Quartet. The quartet performs at Baltimore-area elementary schools that don't have music programs in an effort to use music to teach students about their curriculum, such as fractions, Vaupel said.

The second half of the holiday pops concert will showcase holiday pieces, including Bill Holcombe's arrangement of "Festive Sounds of Hanukkah" and Leroy Anderson's "A Christmas Festival" and "Sleigh Ride," performed by the full orchestra.

The concert ends with an audience singalong to an arrangement that includes familiar holiday tunes such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Koehler said.

Koehler described the first half of the concert, the classical music part, as the "wine-and-cheese half," followed by the "eggnog half."

Koehler said she selected "Four Seasons" because it's an audience favorite; has references to winter and autumn, which we're still in; and is from the baroque era, which has a lot of great holiday music.

Another characteristic of baroque music is it's typical for the soloist to add their own "stylistic commentary," also known as ornaments, said Vaupel, 35, of Baltimore.

Vaupel's ornaments include a jazzy bluegrass slide during "Autumn" at the point where Vivaldi refers in the music to drunken peasants, Koehler said. "Four Seasons" is based on sonnets that many scholars believe were written by Vivaldi, according to Koehler and Vaupel.

Periodically, Vivaldi has instruments create sounds or images of the seasons, including violas barking like dogs during the slow movement of "Spring" and violins and violas buzzing around like flies and mosquitoes during a slow scene from "Summer," Koeh-ler and Vaupel said.

"It's great fun to play. I think because of the theatrical nature. ... You feel like you have to be so directly involved and I love playing it. It's really such a great piece of music. I'm so honored that's the piece of music they chose for me to play," Vaupel said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Frederick Symphony Orchestra's holiday pops concert

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22

WHERE: J.B. Kussmaul Theater, Frederick Community College, 7932 Opossumtown Pike, Frederick, Md.

COST: $18, adults; $10, students and seniors

DIRECTIONS: Follow Interstate 70 east to the first Frederick exit to U.S. 40. Take U.S. 40 east to U.S. 15 junction. Take U.S. 15 north to Motter Avenue. Turn right onto Motter/Opossumtown Pike. Go approximately one mile, and the Frederick Community College campus will be on the left. Take the second (north) entrance into the campus. Park in the large lot on the left in front of the Arts & Student Center building. The theater is inside this building.

MORE: If tickets are still available, they will be sold at the door. To reserve tickets, call 301-663-8476.

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