Woodlands Symphony offering free Christmas concert
Music is one popular way to celebrate the Christmas season, and both classical and modern songs are on tap as The Woodlands Symphony presents a ‘Super-Size’ Christmas on Dec. 16. Not only is the orchestra the largest it’s ever been, but the concert will include a dozen or more selections that in past years.
The Woodlands Symphony is under the direction of Darryl Bayer, who noted that preparation for the Christmas performance takes six months. Rehearsals begin at the Lone Star College and then the orchestra rehearses at the location, The Woodlands First Baptist Church, a few days before the show.
“Preparation for concerts like this started about six months ago. That includes designing the program and the first step is coming up with the theme or concept. The next step is picking the literature that people will love and will also educate them on classical music. Then comes the hours of rehearsals including the intensive weeklong rehearsal that we do right before the concert,” Bayer explained.
The concert will include classical pieces from Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Christmas Eve Suite,” Sergei Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije” and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”
“We’re opening the concert with Russian classical composers that have written music that is associated with Christmas time. So, of course, we have selections from Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcraker,’” Bayer said. “And then we have an unknown opera by Rimsky-Korsakov’s called the “Christmas Eve Suite.’”
Following the classical portion of the show, the orchestra will transition into more modern pieces such as “White Christmas” and “Polar Express.” The audience will be invited to participate in a “Hallelujah Chorus” sing-a-long from Handel’s “Messiah” to conclude the evening.
“We always design the first portion to be classical so those who expect classical music from a symphony orchestra can enjoy that, but we also understand that a lot of people enjoy Boston Pops style,” Bayer said. “And then we’re going to close with a ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ sing-along. We’re going to provide the words and sheet music and let the audience become part of the show.”
Bayer noted offering free tickets to the concert provides those who may not otherwise see a professional symphony performance with an opportunity to do so. He explained that the musicians are talented and want to reach out to the community by sharing their gift with others.
“This is a free concert and it’s very rare that a professional level symphony orchestra gives away free concerts. We really want to be able to share with people that perhaps would never hear a symphony orchestra because of the price of the tickets,” he said. “We want to be an orchestra for the people and in order to do that we’ve got to bring the audience in and give them a free concert. It’s Christmas so give them a Christmas gift.”
The Woodlands First Baptist Church auditorium seats 1,100 people. Those who wish to view the concert from one of the 75 reserved seats in the first five rows — and attend a meet and greet with the conductor following the show — can make a $75 donation online.
Guests are encouraged to arrive early and bring their printed ticket in order to secure a seat closer to the stage. Attendees who arrive without a printed ticket will be seated 10 minutes before the performance begins.
The event is free and doors open at 5:30 p.m. followed promptly by the starting of the show at 6 p.m. at The Woodlands First Baptist Church, 11801 Grogans Mill Road. Learn more and get tickets at https://bit.ly/2AEot6e.