Conductor John Morris Russell and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concluded the holiday concerts and the 2017 portion of the season with the annual Holiday Pops concerts December 15-17 performing fours concerts in three days. For the Holiday Pops the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joined in and the Buffalo Girlchoir made their BPO debut.
After opening the concert with “The First Noel” the lights were dimmed with only the lights above the music stands glowing as the BPO played “O Tanenbaum”. The light came up slowly as the song was played.
Soprano Katy Minor joined the BPO for a performance of “We Three Kings” and the Appalachian tune I Wonder as I Wander”.
The days of December are filled with holidays other than Christmas. Paying tribute to one of those holidays, the BPO performed a medley of Chanukah songs with the “Festive Sound of Hanukkah”.
The BPO performed the percussion heavy song “Pat-a-Pan”, a “Winter Medley” that featured a number of key changes and a piece that fused the music of “Bolero” and “The Little Drummer Boy” title “Little Bolero Boy” before taking a break for the intermission.
Noting that some BPO musicians have a musical life outside of the BPO, Maestro Russell introduced violinist Amy Licata, bassist Brett Shurtliffe, and Buffalo musician Matthew Spurber on guitar as the Celtic music trio Normal Street Entrance who performed a medley of tunes. Named for the stage door entrance used by BPO musicians, the trio played “I Saw Three Ships”, “Ice in the Road”, and “Christmas Eve”.
After intermission the BPO returned to the stage and were joined by the Chorus and the Girlchoir with a performance of “Deck the Halls Boughs of Holly ( A Merrie Fugue)”.
Buffalo TV personality Mike Randall came on stage to read the story of the “Polar Express” as the BPO, the BPC, and the Girlchoir performed.
The holiday musical merriment concluded with a sing-a-long that included “Jingle Bells”, “Joy to the World”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Away in a Manger”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, and Silent Night”.