Holiday concerts let soprano Lisa Vroman make up for lost time
With holiday tunes being played practically before Thanksgiving nowadays, by the time Christmas actually rolls around, many folks have long since reached their limit of “Frosty the Snowman,” “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells” and the like.
But, because for years she spent her holidays entertaining audiences on both coasts as Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera,” soprano Lisa Vroman has the exact opposite reaction.
“I’ve been without my family for holidays but also without the holiday music,” she said recently from her home in Pasadena, California. “I still love doing these concerts, especially around the holidays, because I missed many, many years of being in shows not being able to sing this music.”
“These concerts” are Christmas concerts.
Earlier this month, she performed five Holiday Pops shows with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in Indiana, and in November, she returned to her alma mater, the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, to perform with the school’s symphony orchestra and chorus in their annual Crane Candlelight holiday concert series.
She’ll close the holiday performance season as the guest artist in the Spokane Symphony’s Holiday Pops weekend, which brings Vroman to the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Saturday and Sunday.
Conductor Morihiko Nakahara will lead Vroman, alongside the Spokane Symphony, Spokane Symphony Chorale and Spokane Area Youth Choirs, through a variety of holiday tunes.
Vroman, whose résumé also includes performances in “Aspects of Love” on Broadway, “Les Misérables,” “The Music Man,” “A Little Night Music,” “The Sound of Music,” “West Side Story” and “Carousel,” began performing with symphonies in the mid-’90s around the same time she began performing in “Phantom.”
“One symphony asks, and then they all start to ask,” Vroman said.
Throughout her career, Vroman has worked with symphonies and in operas and cabarets.
She likens a solo cabaret show to a marathon she has to pace really well, and said symphony concerts are a little easier preparation-wise because the conductor has already set the program.
Even still, Vroman works hard to bring the intimacy of her solo shows into her symphony performances.
“I love to bring a certain level of intimacy, certainly for the holidays because everybody needs that experience, with me from the theater world to the symphonic stage and still really honor the classical nature of the group,” she said. “I’m a crossover singer, so I have both options and I try to physically incorporate that.”
Holiday Pops will kick off with a blend of a traditional English carol called “I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)” and a French carol called “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,” two of Vroman’s mother’s favorite pieces.
The concert also features Giulio Caccini’s “Ave Maria,” Bob Wells and Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song” and Vroman’s own arrangements of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Vroman said the orchestras she’s performed with appreciate the personalization of the work and, even if they don’t know her personal connection to the pieces, it makes the experience better for the audience too.
“You really want the audience to go away feeling like they’ve had a celebration for their family,” she said.
She loves seeing families in the audience and tries to connect with the children she sees while performing. After the show, she always makes time to talk to audience members.
With so much competition for entertainment, Vroman said it’s important for performers to connect with their audience and inspire them to return to the theater.
“To go out and experience something live with live instruments and someone in the room with you, it makes a big difference,” she said.
Vroman sees holiday concerts, and live music and theater in general, as a chance for audiences to simply sit back, relax and enjoy.
“With the world the way it is right now, no matter what people believe, I find concerts like this are two and a half hours off,” she said. “We get to check all that at the door, come on in and be completely soothed and inspired by the music and feel emotional and let ourselves listen and have that community.”