After last weekend’s extremely successful sold-out run of The Nutcracker, the festive fun continues at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts this week with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of “Holiday Heralds” on Thursday evening. The orchestra will be joined by the Concert and Chamber Choirs from the talented Central Illinois Children’s Chorus to treat audience members to a family-friendly night of seasonally appropriate musical selections. Rumor has it that Santa Claus himself will be stopping by the Foellinger Great Hall by the conclusion of the evening.
The planned program includes a number of familiar crowd-pleasing holiday favorites, including a peppy “Sleigh Ride”, a recitation of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, and the always glorious “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. Audience members can try to identify all the songs in “Christmas Festival”, a fast-moving orchestral arrangement of multiple Christmas tunes by American composer Leroy Anderson (who also gave us “Sleigh Ride”), while a promised sing-along later in the evening should allow everyone a chance to join in the musical merriment.
The orchestra will also perform several festive classical pieces that may be less familiar to some in the audience than those previously mentioned, including selections from sweeping Christmas oratorios by both Johann Sebastian Bach and French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. (Saint-Saëns’ gorgeous Oratorio de Noel was apparently written in only ten days!) The evening will also feature a performance of a lively polonaise originally performed in Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s comic opera Christmas Eve.
This evening of holiday favorites should be an accessible and enjoyable way for community members young and old to sample the immense musical talent and exciting energy the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Stephen Alltop bring to Champaign-Urbana. The orchestra has been fulfilling its mission to provide “symphonic music of the highest caliber through live performances and music education in the schools, the concert hall, and the community” for 55 years — ever since its founding by Unit 4 music educators in 1960. Current Music Director and Conductor Stephen Alltop assumed his post in 2013 after being recognized as the Illinois Council of Orchestras’ Conductor of the Year in 2012 and working with Chicago’s distinguished Apollo Chorus.
Those attending the performance may wish to bring along new or gently used coats, mittens, gloves, and hats for the Winter Clothing Drive currently in progress at Krannert. Donations can be dropped off in the lobby of Krannert prior to December 17th and will go to the Unit 4 Champaign School District and Urbana School District 116 to help keep local children warm this winter. The spirit of giving can be kept alive all night with your generosity and consideration.
If you’re in need of a little Christmas, “Holiday Heralds” will be performed at 7:30 PM on Thursday, December 10th in the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $40. Discounted tickets are $36 for Senior Citizens and $5 for Students and Youth (anyone under 18). Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 800-KCPA-TIX, or by stopping by the Krannert box office.