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RSO Christmas concert to feature both popular tunes and classical favorites

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The Roswell Symphony Orchestra performing at last year’s Christmas concert. The Dec. 10 concert begins at 2:30 p.m. with a pre-concert performance starting at 2 p.m. that will feature the University of Texas-El Paso Horn Choir. (Submitted Photo)

Would you like the opportunity to sing Christmas carols accompanied by a live symphony orchestra? If so, attend the Roswell Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas concert at 2:30 on Dec. 10 p.m. at Pearson Auditorium on the NMMI campus.

This year, the annual RSO Christmas concert will end with an audience sing-a-long of Christmas carols that includes “Jingle Bells,” “Joy to the World,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “Deck the Halls,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Away in the Manger.”

The RSO is celebrating the 45th anniversary of Maestro John Farrer as music director. The “Night Before Christmas” will be narrated by RSO board president Rick Fulton.

There will be a pre-concert performance starting at 2 p.m. featuring the University of Texas-El Paso Horn Choir. They will be joined by Carsten Williams, a member of England’s Royal Philharmonia horn section, and will be conducted by the RSO principal horn and UTEP horn professor Richard Lambrecht.

Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

There will be plenty of holiday cheer to go around with sacred favorites like “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and secular classics like “Sleigh Ride” and “March of the Toys.”

Thanks to the “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky, concert goers will get to enjoy the sound of a celesta, a keyboard that produces bell-like tones, played on an electric keyboard. “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” will feature a celesta solo. This is the most famous use of this enchanting instrument. There also is a harp solo at the beginning of the “Waltz of the Flowers.” The piece itself is a fine example of a Viennese waltz.

Here are some “fun facts” about the musical pieces on the program:

•George Friedrich Handel’s “Overture to The Messiah” premiered on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland, for a charity benefit and drew so many people that ladies were requested not to wear hoops to accommodate a larger audience. The series of “Messiah” concerts was a triumph.

•Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (“Jesus bleibet meine Freude” in the original German) from “Cantata No. 147” was one of Bach’s most sublime and beloved melodies. Bach composed it in Leipzig in 1723.

• Victor Herbert’s “March of the Toys” from “Babes in Toyland” is from the operetta “Babes in Toyland,” which wove together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a Christmas-themed musical extravaganza.

•Bing Crosby’s single of “White Christmas,” composed by Irving Berlin, has reportedly sold more than 50 million copies and is thought to be the most popular worldwide selling single of all time.

•Leroy Anderson was inspired to compose “Sleigh Ride” during the summer of 1946 as a diversion from the effects of a record-breaking heat wave.

•Randol Bass’ “The Night Before Christmas” is the setting of the famous Christmas poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and was commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra. The first performance of the work took place in that city during the orchestra’s holiday concerts in 1988 under the baton of Robert Page. The piece is cinematically conceived, and each poetic image of the narration is imaginatively colored in such a way that audiences can clearly visualize the happenings from passage to passage.

• Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s suite from “The Nutcracker” includes “Marche tempo di marcia viva,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” “Russian Dance (Trepak),” “Arabian Dance, “Chinese Dance, “Dance of the Reed Flutes” and “ Waltz of the Flowers.”

Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.

Della Kate Graham is RSO concert operations manager and plays oboe and English horm in the symphony.