11/24/04 — Symphoney brings Christmas spirit to Wayne

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Symphoney brings Christmas spirit to Wayne

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on November 24, 2004 1:59 PM

It's a pleasure to listen to good Christmas music at home, but that doesn't compare to hearing it live.

On Tuesday night, a full house at the Paramount Theatre had the chance to get into the spirit of the season when the North Carolina Symphony performed its annual Holiday Pops concert.

The audience was ready for the performance, applauding heartily, giving a standing ovation at the end of the show and even singing along during part of the concert.

"OK, you got together and rehearsed, didn't you?" Assistant Conductor Kenneth Raskin asked the audience.

"It's officially now the holiday season," he added.

The orchestra opened its performance with Robert Wendel's Overture to a "Merry Christmas," which included "Joy to the World" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." The strings got quite a work out during the "Joy to the World" selection, making an outstanding piece even more impressive.

Once the piece was concluded, Raskin announced that it was "that time of year again," a time for family and friends to gather together and enjoy good music.

It was good. The first half of the program lasted for more than an hour, but seemed much shorter. The performances were brilliant and Raskin's comments interesting.

Before the symphony played Fantasia on "Greensleeves," for example, Raskin noted that some suspect that the music was written in the 16th century by King Henry VIII. While people are not really sure that he wrote this song, it is know that he was fond of music. The king owned several instruments, including 10 trombones, 76 flutes and five bagpipes. In addition, he was a singer and composer.

In 1865, a British composer took the same melody and changed the words. The result was "What Child Is This," now a favorite Christmas song.

Other selections included Johann Strauss Jr.'s Overture and Bandit's Galop from "Prince Methusalem"; Lennie Niehaus' "The Joy of Christmas" for brass, percussion and harp; and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Suite from "Christmas Eve."

After an intermission, the orchestra opened the second part of its program with Carmen Dragon's arrangement of "The First Noel." Bass trombonist and symphony member Terry Mizesko's Dances from "A Chanukah Celebration" was played, as were Arthur Harris' arrangements of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "We Three Kings of Orient Are."

Then came the audience sing-along, followed by a symphony favorite, Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride."

After a standing ovation from the audience, the symphony offered a fun and unusual encore, "Brazilian Sleigh Bells."