Review: Christmas!



Courtesy of The Republic

The expert musicians of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic presented a delightful concert Sunday under the skillful baton of maestro David Bowden. The festive program, “Christmas!,” featured holiday music intermingled with classical hits performed for an enthusiastic audience.

The concert began with the energetic “Commonwealth Christmas Overture” by Malcolm Arnold, followed by the lyrical prelude to the opera “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck. Concertmaster Eliot Heaton serenaded the Judson Erne Auditorium audience at Columbus North High School with the sweetly beautiful “Ave Maria,” arranged by Franz Schubert and August Wilhelmj.

DZ7B5829A pair of lighthearted selections from “Die Fledermaus” by popular Viennese composer Johan Strauss Jr. brought Tayler Seymour to the stage. Seymour, a theatrical studies major at Ball State University, won the 2015 Anna Newell Brown Scholarship for Vocal Excellence. She mesmerized us with her virtuosic singing and flirtatious acting in Strauss’ “Laughing Song” and again later in “Santa Baby,” arranged by Daniel Powers. Santa Claus himself joined the performers on stage and presented Seymour with a special gift: a lovely bouquet of flowers which he pulled from his red velvet bag.

Powers, as composer-in-residence of the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, creates many arrangements for Indiana orchestras. Bowden, joined by the Franklin Children’s Concert Choir, led everyone in a sing-along medley of seasonal tunes colorfully arranged by Powers, including “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The second half of the concert commenced with a clever piece, “Little Bolero Boy,” so-called because it weds the tune “Little Drummer Boy” with the orchestra piece “Boléro” (1928) by French composer Maurice Ravel.

The remainder of the concert featured the choristers of the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir, an organization that partners with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

Ruth Dwyer directed the local choir in holiday pieces from various cultures and historical eras.

These talented and professional youngsters, who are in Grades 4 through 9, delighted us all with their joyful singing of “Chanukah Suite” by Indiana University alumnus Rosanne Soifer (’73) and her husband, Steven Danenberg.

The choristers particularly seemed to enjoy “A Star Dances, An Angel Sings” by Greg Gilpin (arranged by Powers). Also noteworthy was their technical mastery of the demanding “Laudamus Te” by Antonio Vivaldi.

Throughout the program, the choir sang with a beautiful, clear tone and excellent diction.

The Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir and Columbus Indiana Philharmonic were joined by Seymour in a rousing rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to close this concert.

The Columbus community attended in full force to enjoy a lovely afternoon of wonderful music featuring their own orchestra and children’s chorus.

The extra touches — Santa Claus, the audience sing-along, the solos passionately delivered by Heaton and Seymour, and the talented youngsters of the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir — gave this concert that extra-special holiday feeling.

“Bravo” to maestro Bowden and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

Jaime Carini is a doctoral student in organ performance at Indiana University and a published author.

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