BWW Review: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS at Sarasota Orchestra
Under the clever and fun direction of conductor Andrew Lane, the Sarasota Orchestra gave us a merry evening of popular Christmas songs in the cozy Holley Hall. Mixing in a little traditional with a little jazz, celebrating songs from around the globe and blending classics with contemporary was on the delicious menu for the evening.
I love that the venue was more intimate which enabled us the opportunity to see our orchestra up close and personal. They felt comfortable enough to be causal with us, sporting Santa, Elves, Grinch and Reindeer hats, and it made for such a fun performance.
Conductor Lane was playful throughout the performance, reacting to the whip that snapped during a sleigh ride song. He even took some guff from "Alexa" Amazon's virtual assistant, of whom he asked questions from time to time. She finally told him to find out the answers for himself and that she was tired of doing his work for him. Alexa can be such a Grinch.
Who doesn't love the classic film Miracle on 34th Street and its "Overture" made for a festive opening, featuring French horns, violins, xylophone and chimes. Moving to a more classic feel we were treated to the first 2 movements of Corelli's "Vivace - Grave Allegro from Christmas Concerto in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8". A light and jazzy big band version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" followed by the sweet and tender "O Come, O Come Emanuel" with a haunting oboe opening. The harp and chimes during the traditional version of "White Christmas" emulated the feeling of snow falling. The background screen with orchestra employees reading "The Night Before Christmas" made their, "A Visit from St. Nick" all the more charming.
One of the songs featured that made this show so special was a tribute to Christmas around the world. Songs from Italy, Germany, England, Poland and the US were some of the countries we visited with the orchestra in their "Around the World at Christmas Time" selection.
Being of Serbian heritage I could not hold back the tears when the spirited Trans Siberian Orchestra's version of "Christmas Eve in Sarajevo" was performed. I barely had time to recover when a tribute to another favorite of mine, Disney's "Frozen", began with the orchestra stomping their feet, emulating the icemen sawing through the ice in the beginning of the blockbuster animation. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" was so beautiful. I did catch myself singing 'Let It Go". (I apologize to the couple seated in font of me.)
To end the evening with "Sleigh Ride" left us feeling uplifted. I know everyone waited for the clopping sounds and whinnies of the reindeer, which brought a chuckle from the devoted audience. Merry Christmas to one of the finest orchestras in the land. You are a gift to our community.
For more information on Sarasota Orchestra visit www.sarasotaorchestra.org