BWW Review: A HOLIDAY POPS! at Kennedy Center
As the holidays kick into, high gear there is no better way to spend the season than with an evening of holiday music played by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) conducted by Maestro Steven Reineke.
The evening started off with the festive "Holiday Overture" comprised of tunes for the season. From there the Washington Chorus entertained with a rousing rendition of Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas" from Mame.
Then it was time for the headliner to take the stage and dazzle us all. You might know Megan Hilty from TV's Smash but she is a top-notch Broadway performer as well. Her credits include 9 to 5 and Wicked. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "Winter Wonderland," and "The Christmas Song" were but three of the holiday standards Hilty put her own jazzy spin on.
I like to hear songs that aren't standards when I go to a holiday concert (yes, I know, I'm weird). I really enjoyed Hilty's renditions of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens' "A Place Called Home" from A Christmas Carol and Joni Mitchell's "River."
Maestro Reineke has impeccable taste and he puts a program together, it's clear that he tries to make it as diverse as possible. A prime example of this wertr three movements from Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah. Reineke commissioned this piece to fill a void in the Chanukah music market. As much as the orchestra sounded up to its usual brilliance, The Washington Chorus' diction left something to be desired on this and a few other songs, which is strange because the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall has killer acoustics. With the exception of The First Noel, diction trouble plagued the chorus for most of the evening.
I have said before that the NSO can play all kinds of music and do it all spectacularly well and "Jingle Bell Rock" is just one more example of that. I must give a big shout out to the NSO's rhythm section featuring Tony Nalker on piano, Jim Roberts on multiple guitars, Charlie Nilles on bass, and Joe Connell on drums for being the strong anchors for some of the jazzier things and rocking the roof when needed.
All in all, Megan Hilty and the mighty NSO, under Maestro Reineke's baton, gave the audience exactly what they came to see and hear. It was a fun-filled evening of holiday cheer complete with Santa Claus, snow, and a sing along. HO, HO, HO indeed!!
Running Time: One hour and 55 minutes with one intermission.
Holiday at Pops had a two-day, three performance run in the Concert Hall at Kennedy Center on December 8 and 9, 2017.
For upcoming events by the NSO, click here.