Joann Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra got the annual holiday concert series started on December 7 with the annual Classical Christmas concert.

After opening the concert with the “Polonaise” from “Christmas Eve” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsikov, Joann welcomed the crowd by noting that this is the most joyful concert of the year; adding that there is so much music to choose from.  And while she chose some new pieces for this year, the concert also featured some old favourites – including Joann’s favourite work.

After performances of the “Skater’s Walt”, three selections from “The Nutcracker Suite” and the Ottorino Respighi’s “Adoration of the Magi” from “Trittico Botticellino”, western New York native Charles Wetherbee returned to serve as guest concert master and to perform “Winter” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.

After the intermission, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joined the BPO to open the second half of the program with “Adeste Fideles” from “A Carol Symphony”.  The Chorus performed “Jauchzet Frohlochat” from the “Christmas Oratorio”.

Joann noted that the Orchestra was very warmly received on  their trip to Poland earlier this year.  As a tribute to Poland the BPO and The Chorus performed a series of Polish Christmas Carols – “Hurrying to Bethlehem”, “Angels to the Shepherds Came”, “When the Christ to Us is Born”, “Lullaby, Jesus”, and “Hey, We Rejoice Now”.

The BPO performed the new piece “Bethlehem Down” and the “Troika” from Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije Suite” before being joined by the Chorus for the traditional “Hallelujah Chorus” from Frederich Handel’s “Messiah”.  Joann noted that she was glad to see the tradition of standing for the Chorus continues.   She revealed that the traditions began when King George III was so moved by the performance of the Chorus that he stood up and of course everyone had to stand along with him.

For the final number, the BPO to join the for “A Christmas Festival” sing-a dropped the big screen and invited the audience to join them in “A Christmas Festival” sing-a-long that included “Joy to the World”, “Deck the Halls”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, “Good King Wenceslas”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells”, and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

The joyous musical event ended with an encore performance of “Sleigh Ride”.