Pacific Symphony, Holiday Organ Spectacular, Todd Wilson
Enveloping the audience in a magnitude of musical splendors, the $3.1-million William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, played by world-renowned organist Todd Wilson, captures the beauty, range and colors of popular and traditional holiday music during Pacific Symphony's annual "Holiday Organ Spectacular."
Unique arrangements illuminate the talent of Wilson, Broadway star Lisa Vroman and accompanying principal Symphony musicians: Benjamin Smolen, flute; Barry Perkins, trumpet and Mindy Ball, harp. Joining the Symphony for the third year, Wilson, head of the organ department at The Cleveland Institute of Music and curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall, also performs organ works by Bach and Handel.
This concert takes place one night only, Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with the Foothill High Dickens Carolers serenading an hour before the concert begins. Tickets are $25-75; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
"This will be a wonderful and unique combination of musical arrangements customized for this particular concert," says singing sensation Vroman, who starred for several years on Broadway as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera." "The organ is an amazing instrument and able to create so many different sounds and colors; in a way, it is its own orchestra! The main difference in singing with the organ is that I will be on a microphone to compete with the organ's sound, which is immense in the hall. But it's not only me onstage with the organ. We also have Ben Smolen, Barry Perkins and Mindy Ball. It's a pleasure to make music with just a few instruments and give the audience a more intimate look at the collaboration-and a chance to hear some of their favorite members of Pacific Symphony shine on their own!"
The program features well-known and cherished Christmas songs including: Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim," from "Samson," "O Holy Night" "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Sleigh Ride," "Let It Snow," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and much more! Furthering the yuletide spirit, the audience is invited to join the performers in singing along to classic holiday favorites "The Holly and the Ivy," "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World."
Symphony Flutist Smolen offers some thoughts on his instrument's role in traditional Christmas music: "One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Eve service growing up was hearing the choir sing the descant lines to my favorite carols like 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing.' The flute often takes on this role, especially in music of the holiday season, adding soaring counter-melodies to familiar carols. I think the combination of organ, flute, trumpet and harp is especially poignant given the significance of all these instruments in Biblical literature and in the history of the church. Music was an important part of Biblical life, and flutes, trumpets and harps often took center stage in important festivals and praise. The combination with organ recalls that instrument's long history in church life and the countless sacred works it has inspired over the centuries.