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Boston Pops bringing holiday spirit

By Mike McGuigan
On December 2, 2012

  • Kemba Walker dribbles against the Georgetown defense during Wednesday’s 78-70 win over the Hoyas at the XL Center in Hartford. Walker scored 31 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed seven rebounds. Walker and the Huskies will try to improve their win streak to three games at Louisville tonight. KEVIN SCHELLER/The Daily Campus


On Saturday night, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra preformed at the Jorgensen Center for the Preforming Arts under the direction of conductor Keith Lockhart in its sixth annual holiday concert at UConn.  The Vocal Group Five by Design joined the Pops that evening.  

The Boston Pops Orchestra, affectionately referred to as "America's Orchestra" by fans, is the most recorded orchestra in the country, and given the caliber of their performance at Jorgensen one of the best in the nation.  Each year the Pops present a series of holiday concerts that, for the past six years, have been inaugurated at UConn. The Boston Pops Orchestra has come to be commonly referred to as the Pops by fans. Conductor Keith Lockhart joined the Pops in 1995, and has expounded upon the artistic tradition he inherited from his predecessors during his tenure. Prior to coming to the Pops, Mr. Lockhart was the associate conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops orchestras. 

The group Five by Design has been together since 1986 and focuses its repertoire on "all things swing." The group consists of Lorie Carpenter-Niska, Catherine Scott, Kurt Niska , Michael Swedberg, and Terrence Niska. Five by Design has traveled throughout the country, up north into Canada, and to far away places such as Istanbul.  

The Pops began the concert with the piece "Christmas Canticles." Continueing with a stirring rendition of "Carol of the Bells" in conjunction with Five by Design. One of the highlights of the first portion of the show was an arrangement of Burl Ives's Christmas classic "Holly Jolly Christmas," which showcased Five by Design's swinging style. The finale of the first portion of the show was a musical reading of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." This reading included a performance of songs from the popular animated special of this Doctor Seuss's. After this piece, a brief intermission followed.  

An early highlight of the second half of the concert was a reading of "Virginia, Yes, there is a Santa Claus" by Brid Grant the Dean of the UConn School of Fine Arts, which was musically accompanied by the Pops, originally written as an editorial reply in the The Baltimore Sun on September 21, 1897 by Francis Church to answer a young girl, Virginia and her question of whether Santa Claus actually exists. His touching response, read by Dean Grant, told Virginia that Santa Claus does indeed exist.  This reading was followed up by a performance of the Pops classic "Sleigh Ride." The grand finale of the show was a "Merry Little Sing-Along" in which Santa Claus himself joined the Boston Pops on stage to lead the audience in singing various Christmas classics such as Rudolph the "Red-Nosed Reindeer" and a "Winter Wonderland."  When the sing along finally ended the audience greeted the Pops with a thunderous round of applause.   

Student reaction to the Pops performance was very positive. First semester pre-pharmacy major Stephanie Brady said, " It was a great concert." First-semester student Cate Kohn an accounting major said that her favorite part about the concert was "the old school style of Five by Design." She also added that "the orchestra was amazing as well."

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