Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Athens Symphony & Chorus Christmas Concerts

Christmas Concerts to be Presented December 12 and 13

The Athens Symphony will present its annual Christmas concerts featuring the Athens Symphony Chorus Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. at the Classic Center in Athens. This year, the symphony is partnering with the Salvation Army in collecting canned and other non-perishable foods to help feed Northeast Georgia families.

In addition to selections from Handel’s Messiah, the concerts will include J.S. Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria; Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck; and a variety of Christmas carols and medleys. As a grand finale, Conductor Albert F. Ligotti will lead the orchestra, chorus and audience in a sing along of holiday favorites.

“The Christmas concerts have become a tradition of holiday celebration for many Athens families,” said Ligotti. “I’m hopeful that the spirit of joy that we share through this music will be further shared through our drive for the Salvation Army.”

Symphony’s New Movement

The Athens Symphony is partnering with the Salvation Army to collect non-perishable food items for families in need this holiday season across Northeast Georgia. Audience members are encouraged to bring canned or boxed goods with them to the Classic Center to donate to the drive.

“We really wanted to give back to the community that has supported us for the last 32 years,” said Dr. Dick Hudson, president of the Athens Symphony. “We know that the need for these goods is particularly acute this year, and we’re proud to offer our audience an opportunity to get involved.”

Collection boxes will be placed outside the Classic Center all day December 12 and December 13. Audience members may drop off donations on their way to the concert, or any area residents who wish to contribute may drop items off with no concert ticket necessary. All goods collected will be donated to the Salvation Army.

A Most Wonderful Christmas

The programming for 2009’s Christmas concerts includes a variety of traditional and contemporary seasonal selections. “Just about everyone’s favorite is bound to be represented,” noted Ligotti. As in years past, selections from Handel’s Messiah will be featured, including the Overture, the Pastoral Symphony, and the majestic Hallelujah Chorus presented with the Athens Symphony Chorus.

The Hallelujah Chorus concludes Part Two of Handel’s most famous oratorio, describing the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. After composing this section, Handel is said to have exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!” Upon hearing one of the earliest performances of the Hallelujah Chorus, King George II spontaneously rose to his feet in a spirit of exaltation—a tradition repeated by audiences to this day.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria, both devotional pieces characterized by their simple but universally stirring melodies, have become not only a staple of Christmas celebrations, but also familiar and beloved pieces in traditional wedding literature. The Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel” by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck is an all-orchestral movement from a full opera based on the fairy tell by the Brothers Grimm.

Following the intermission, the Christmas Concerts’ program moves from inspirational classical selections to contemporary Christmas pops selections and carols to include Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, The First Noel, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, O Come, All Ye Faithful, White Christmas and many more.

At the concert’s close, the audience will join the Athens Symphony Chorus in a Christmas carol sing along, forming a chorus of up to 2,000 voices in the hall of the Classic Center Theatre.

Admission to the Christmas concerts is free but tickets are required for entry, and will be available for pick up at the Classic Center Theatre Box Office beginning Monday, November 30 at 10:00 a.m.

The Christmas concerts feature the Athens Symphony Chorus, a group of volunteer singers including seasoned choir singers, enthusiastic amateur singers and former and current professional singers. Membership to the chorus is open to any adults over the age of 18 with the ability to read music.

Anyone interested in joining rehearsals for the Pops concerts this Spring may find more information at the Athens Symphony Orchestra’s
web site and Facebook page. Those interested may also contact the Athens Symphony Orchestra by email or by calling (706) 425-4205.

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