The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra brought holiday cheer to the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts Saturday night, performing Christmas classics to packed hall and hosting a special appearance by Santa Claus.
Keith Lockhart conducted the band, introducing the segments. The University of Connecticut has become a regular stop on the Pop’s holiday tour, with students, professors and music lovers alike attending Saturday’s performance. This is the 10th year that the Pops has performed at UConn.
“It’s dark outside and it’s getting colder,” Lockhart said to the audience as the show opened. “We want to invite you inside.”
Lockhart is the current Laureate Conductor of the orchestra, conducting the pops since 1995. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston Pops has been performing for over 130 years and makes frequent tours and television appearance, playing an annual Fourth of July concert at the Hatch Shell in Boston and going on a holiday tour every December.
Joined by the Metropolitan Chorale for the choral pieces, the orchestra worked their way through a mix of classical and modern holiday tunes.
Songs included classic favorites such as ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, ‘Light One Candle’ and Mozart’s Hallelujah Chorus, along with more contemporary pieces, including a ‘We Need a Little Christmas’.
The Pop’s modern mashup of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, which included melodies from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘We Three Kings’, was well-received by the audience. During one mention of ‘Four calling birds’, Lockhart humorously took out a telephone and called out ‘Hello?’ which evoked laughter throughout the hall and thunderous applause at the song’s conclusion.
Once instrumental piece, ‘The Adoration Of the Magi’, was highlighted by Lockhart, who asked the audience to close their eyes and picture the music as it was played. Another, ‘Swingle Bells IX’, a compilation of Christmas carols, was performed by the Chorale, conducted Lisa Graham without any instrumental accompaniment.
During the second half of the show, a puppet of the late and long-time conductor of the Pops Arthur Fiedler appeared to read through Christmas poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’. Operated by two puppeteers, Fielder bantered with Lockhart and conducted the orchestra through ‘Sleigh Ride’.
In the final segment of the show, Christmas icon Santa appeared, shaking hands with audience members and participating in a sing-along of traditional holiday songs such as ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘Jingle Bells’.
Closing off with “Let There Be Peace On Earth” the performance ended with a standing ovation and thunderous applause from the audience.
Those who attended said that the concert was highly enjoyable and that they were impressed by the orchestra’s performance.
“It was very well done,” said Ron Cotterill, a UConn emeritus professor. “ ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was absolutely outstanding.”
Some audience anticipated the performance for awhile, and said that they weren’t disappointed.
“I’ve been waiting to see them for 10 years,” said third semester pre-pharmacy major Amy Doucette. “I’m really happy. ‘Sleigh Ride’ is just my childhood.”
Overall, the show was well-appreciated, especially due to the Pops’ light-hearted nature, said attendees.
“It was outstanding,” said Patty Knapp, a 1986 UConn alumnus. “It’s our fourth year coming and this is the best year. I think they’re an upbeat and playful orchestra compared to other orchestras.”
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.