Philadelphia Orchestra Kicks Off Holiday Season with GLORIOUS SOUND OF CHRISTMAS Concert Tonight

Philadelphia Orchestra Kicks Off Holiday Season with GLORIOUS SOUND OF CHRISTMAS Concert Tonight

The Philadelphia Orchestra is gearing up for the holidays, and this season's line-up promises plenty of cheer for people of all ages-from classical music aficionados to traditional holiday music lovers alike. The most wonderful time of the year opens with three Glorious Sound of Christmas concerts, tonight, December 20-22; continues with Handel's Messiah, December 23; and concludes with the time-honored tradition of the Orchestra's annual New Year's Eve Concert on December 31, this year conducted by new Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. All concerts take place in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.

The Glorious Sound of Christmas is the perfect way to kick off the season and take a break from a hectic holiday to-do list. Led by Grammy Award-winning guest conductor and Vancouver Symphony Music Director Bramwell Tovey, this series of three concerts features timeless holiday favorites and well-loved carols played by Philadelphia's own world-renowned orchestra. Named for the The Philadelphia Orchestra's best-selling Christmas album, and featuring the beloved Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, it is sure to become a holiday tradition. Tonight, December 20-22 at 7:00 PM, tickets start at $40.

Those looking for a more classically-inspired program need look no further than The Philadelphia Orchestra's annual performance of Handel's Messiah, led by Paul Goodwin, artistic director and conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California. A Philadelphia Orchestra tradition since 1961, this concert has become as much a part of the season as Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The program features the Philadelphia Singers Chorale and an impressive line-up of soloists, including soprano Karina Gauvin; mezzo-soprano Diana Moore, in her Philadelphia Orchestra debut; tenor John Tessier; and baritone Christòpheren Nomura. December 23 at 2 PM, tickets start at $29.

Longtime Philadelphians, and those simply visiting for the holidays, will have a chance to ring in the New Year with The Philadelphia Orchestra's new music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

"New Year's Eve has always been such a joyous occasion for my family, and I look forward to celebrating now with my new family here in Philadelphia," said Yannick Nézet-Séguin. "I hope many will join us in the hall as we toast to all that is to come in 2013."

Yannick and the Fabulous Philadelphians will bid farewell to a brilliant 2012 with Haydn's light-hearted "Farewell" Symphony along with a selection of well-loved encores and showpieces such as Johann Strauss Jr.'s "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" Waltz, Johann Strauss Sr.'s "Radetzky" March, Bernstein's "Mambo," and Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance." For this festive concert, the Orchestra will also be joined onstage by dancers under the auspices of Dance Affiliates and Artistic Director Randy Swartz. December 31 at 7:30 PM, tickets start at $64.

And finally, no holiday season would be complete without a visit from Santa Claus. On Saturday, December 1, enjoy A Holiday Spectacular! Family Concert led by Assistant Conductor Cristian Macelaru. Featuring a sing-along; dancers from Pennsylvania Ballet II; a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by award-winning storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston; and of course a visit from Santa, this concert is a must for young families and the young at heart. December 1 at 11:30 AM, tickets start at $15. This program is presented by U.S. Airways.

Tickets for all three concerts can be purchased by calling 215.893.1999 or visiting www.philorch.org.

Guest Conductors and Artists

Bramwell Tovey, Grammy Award-winning conductor and Vancouver Symphony music director will conduct the Glorious Sound of Christmas.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia once again joins the Orchestra for the beloved annual Glorious Sound of Christmas program.

Paul Goodwin, artistic director and conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival in California, leads Handel's Messiah in this time-honored concert tradition.

Soprano Karina Gauvin; mezzo-soprano Diana Moore, in her Philadelphia Orchestra debut; tenor John Tessier; and baritone Christòpheren Nomura perform as guest soloists in the Orchestra's presentation of the Baroque classic Messiah.

The Philadelphia Singers Chorale continues its association with The Philadelphia Orchestra by joining it for an exciting performance of Handel's Messiah.

Nationally recognized storyteller and narrator Charlotte Blake Alston recites William Holcombe's well-loved 'Twas the Night Before Christmas for A Holiday Spectacular!

Dancers from Pennsylvania Ballet II, a trainee program for pre-professional dancers, will perform in the Holiday Spectacular! Family Concert.

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Renowned for its distinctive sound, beloved for its keen ability to capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences, and admired for an unrivaled legacy of "firsts" in music-making, The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.

The Philadelphia Orchestra has cultivated an extraordinary history of artistic leaders in its 112 seasons, including music directors Fritz Scheel, Carl Pohlig, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Christoph Eschenbach, and Charles Dutoit, who served as chief conductor from 2008 to 2012. With the 2012-13 season, Yannick Nézet-Séguin becomes the eighth music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Named music director designate in 2010, Nézet-Séguin brings a vision that extends beyond symphonic music into the vivid world of opera and choral music.

Philadelphia is home and the Orchestra nurtures an important relationship not only with patrons who support the main season at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts but also those who enjoy the Orchestra's other area performances at the Mann Center, Penn's Landing, and other venues. The Philadelphia Orchestra Association also continues to own the Academy of Music-a National Historic Landmark-as it has since 1957.

Through concerts, tours, residencies, presentations, and recordings, the Orchestra is a global ambassador for Philadelphia and for the United States. Having been the first American orchestra to perform in China, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, today The Philadelphia Orchestra boasts a new partnership with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The Orchestra annually performs at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center while also enjoying a three-week residency in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a strong partnership with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

The ensemble maintains an important Philadelphia tradition of presenting educational programs for students of all ages. Today the Orchestra executes myriad of education and community partnership programs serving over 45,000 annually, including its Neighborhood Concert Series, Sound All Around and Family Concerts, and eZseatU.

For more information on The Philadelphia Orchestra, visit www.philorch.org.