It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the Folsom Lake Symphony celebrates with “Deck the Hall,” a program of seasonal music that – if you just believe – will transport you to a winter wonderland. This year’s annual holiday concert, so popular we schedule two performances, plays Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. Tenor Dennis McNeil is our guest soloist, and John Kendall Bailey steps in as guest conductor.
Mr. McNeil was a 1993 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds first-place awards from the Southern California Opera Guild and the Victor Fuchs Memorial Competition. He also is a recipient of a Rex Foundation Grant from the Grateful Dead. He has performed for five former presidents, including President George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2000. His voice has been lauded by reviewers as “glorious,” “a beautiful Irish tenor” and “resonant.”
Maestro Bailey is music director of the Mozart to Mendelssohn Orchestra and the Mesopotamia Symphony Orchestra and associate conductor of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra. He founded the Berkeley Lyric Opera in 1994 and was its music director and conductor for seven years. In addition, he has taught conducting at UC Davis and Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. Maestro Bailey also is the composer of works that have been performed in the Bay Are and abroad, and has himself performed as a baritone, oboist and pianist.
The playlist for the evening is a nostalgic assemblage of your most loved holiday tunes, including:
- “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle for Andy Williams’ annual TV Christmas show. In 2009, Billboard magazine named the tune as one of the top 10 holiday songs, and ASCAP ranked it No. 4 in 2010.
- “The Christmas Song,” popularly known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” was written by Bob Wells and Mel Torme in the heat of summer in 1945 and recorded by the Nat King Cole trio in early 1946. Cole recorded the song twice more, in 1953 and 1961 – the last version being the most familiar.
- “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin, is now claimed by many sources to be the “quintessential Christmas song” of the last century. It isn’t known when the song was written, but it was famously first sung by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie “Holiday Inn.”
- “Winter Wonderland,” with its marrying snowman, was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith and has since been recorded by more than 200 artists.
- “O Holy Night,” one of our treasured carols, was first a French poem put to music by Adolphe Adam in 1847. American Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight translated the poem in 1855 to create the English version.
- “Chanukah Suite,” by Jeff Tyzik. Written in 1994, the piece is a collection of traditional Hebrew songs for an exuberant celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights holiday.
- “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Jiminy Cricket … well, no, but Cliff Edwards in the character of the curious insect introduced the song, written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, in Walt Disney’s 1940 movie “Pinocchio.” It’s now sung all over the world and has become a Disney icon. Our arrangement was written especially for Mr. McNeil by his music director and pianist, Ed Martell.
- “Believe,” by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard, is from the movie “Polar Express,” which, in turn, is based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. The songwriters received a Grammy Award for Best Song for a Motion Picture in 2006 and a nomination for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 2005.
- “Sleigh Ride,” by Leroy Anderson, was composed in 1948, first as an orchestral piece, and later, after Mitchell Parish’s lyrics were added in 1950, a perennial hit song. It’s the signature tune for the Boston Pops. The horse whinnying and clip-clopping sounds make the piece fun and unforgettable.
- Selections from “The Nutcracker” and more.
You’ll be called upon to provide some of the evening’s music, too, during a sing-along of favorite holiday tunes – lyrics provided.
Like all our regular season concerts, “Deck the Hall” is performed at the Harris Center for the Arts on the Folsom Lake College campus, 10 College Parkway, Folsom. You can buy tickets online, from the theater ticket office or by calling 916-608-6718.
You may not dash through the snow, but you’ll leave our concerts with a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy. No matter how many times it’s been said, we wish happy holidays to you.