Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Celebrates the Holidays at Highmark Holiday Pops, Now thru 12/21

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra celebrates the holiday season at HighMark Holiday Pops with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and an all-star cast of guest artists tonight, Dec. 12, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21. Audiences also can enjoy Heinz Hall decorated beautifully for the holidays, complete with a 25-foot tree in the Grand Lobby!

Renowned conductor Todd Ellison will lead this festive series of concerts featuring classic carols, such as "Joy to the World," "Deck the Hall" and "Silent Night," along with other seasonal favorites such as the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah, Marvin Hamlisch's "Chanukah Lights" and "A 'Spike Jones' Jingle Bells" played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass. Principal trumpet George Vosburgh will solo on the well-known "The Christmas Song." Also on stage will be vocalists Christopher Sanders, Nikki Renée Daniels, Vanessa Campagna, James Fedor Jr. and Ricky Manning. And there might just be a special visit from Santa to bring more delightful surprises!

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday; 8 p.m. on Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. on Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets, ranging in price from $21 to $99, can be purchased by calling the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900, or by visiting pittsburghsymphony.org.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra would like to recognize and thank Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for its 2013 title sponsorship of HighMark Holiday Pops.

Fairmont Pittsburgh is the official hotel of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Hailed by The New York Times as one of "Broadway's electric conductors," Todd Ellison is one of the most accomplished and sought-after music directors working today. Currently music director and conductor of the new Broadway production of Annie, his credits include "Monty Python's Spamalot," "La Cage aux Folles," "42nd Street," Elton John's "Lestat," "Once Upon a Mattress" (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), "How To Succeed" (starring Matthew Broderick) and "She Loves Me. He was the music director of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the famed Radio City Music Hall for several seasons." Internationally, he has conducted at the Vienna Konzerthaus with Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, The Dublin Film Orchestra and Radio City Christmas Spectacular in Mexico City. He has conducted more than 20 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning cast albums of his shows.

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP), a chorus of 120 that includes a 20-voice professional core, is renowned for its versatility, singing oratorio, opera, Broadway, folk and symphonic repertoire. Founded in 1908, the MCP holds the distinction of being Pittsburgh's oldest continuously performing arts organization. The choir, in its 104th season and sixth under the direction of Betsy Burleigh, is known for its mastery of the great choral classics. The MCP is a Steinway Artist, the only chorus holding that designation.

Christopher Sanders is an award-winning actor/singer and has performed in venues around the world. Throughout his career, he has had the pleasure of working with George Hearn, Roddy McDowell, Carol Lawrence, John Raitt, Debbie Boone and Rosemary Clooney. Theatrical credits include "Kiss Me Kate," "Les Miserables," "Jekyll and Hyde," Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," "South Pacific," "Man of La Mancha," "My Fair Lady" and "Into the Woods." His concert work includes engagements with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony, Pasadena Pops and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber at the National Theatre and Concert Hall Taiwan. Sanders tours the country as the baritone for the legendary 1940s singing group, The Pied Pipers. Earlier this year, Sanders released his first solo CD, "Curtain Call."

More On: Symphony, Mark Holiday, Audiences, Todd Ellison, Marvin Hamlisch, George Vosburgh, Nikki Renée Daniels,

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