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Jorgensen looks a lot like Christmas

The Boston Pops' holiday show returns to UConn

Focus Editor

Published: Sunday, December 8, 2013

Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2013 22:12

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas Saturday night at Jorgensen Theater when the Boston Pops took the stage. The 128-year-old orchestra and its conductor Keith Lockhart played over a dozen holiday compositions for a nearly sold-out crowd.

The Boston Pops’ appearance at the Jorgensen Theater has become a holiday tradition on the University of Connecticut campus, and Lockhart expressed the excitement on behalf of the Pops for continuing the practice.

“I hope you’ll be visited tonight by three spirits: the spirit of joy, the spirit of peace and especially the spirit of music,” Lockhart said at the beginning of the evening.

Joining the Pops for their performance was The Metropolitan Choral of Brookline, conducted by Lisa Graham. The 90-person choral was founded 34 years ago and “the hiring well-known soloists and instrumentalists from Boston – combined with Dr. Graham’s brilliant programming – has elevated the chorus to ever higher levels of musical excellence,” according to a press release. Besides singling along side the Pops, The Metropolitan Choral was showcased in their won song, which was led by their own conductor.

Justin Hopkins also had his debut with the Pops Saturday night. Hopkins, a bass-baritone singer, has performed across the globe and won a variety of awards for his accomplishments. When working on “A Stranger Here Myself: Kurt Weill on Broadway,” Pops’ conductor Lockhart met Hopkins and wanted the opportunity to work with him further. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed his select performances which included “Fantasia on Christmas Carols,” “Mary, Did You Know?” and “Christmas Is A-Comin’.”

The spirit of UConn was also integrated into the show when a puppetry student was invited to perform. Sarah Nolen, a puppet arts MFA student and her puppet Skip Toumalou, entertained the audience with a rendition of “A Visit From St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas).” A musical score from the Pops accompanied Skip’s reading of the 1823 poem.

Through the course of the evening, the collaboration of the guests was integrated seamlessly into the program. “Holly Jolly Jingle,” “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Hallelujah Chorus” were included in the program. “Sleigh Ride,” a crowd favorite was also performed.

“’Sleigh Ride’ was written for this orchestra 60 years ago,” Lockhart said, and the piece fits the orchestra like a glove. Different instrumental sections were highlighted during the piece and the cellos surprised the audience with flashy twirls of their instruments in the final measures.

Lockhart is the Pops’ 20th conductor, having assumed the post in 1995. Since then, the group has performed over 1,500 shows world wide, playing both classical and modern music. During their 125th anniversary season, the Pops were commissioned to play “The Dream Lives On,” a tribute to the Kennedy brothers, and may other original works of music.

The audience was invited to embrace the holiday spirit at the end of the night with an opportunity to sing-along with the professionals.

 

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