The Chamber Orchestra of Sarasota will perform its third annual winter holiday concert on Dec. 10 at the Church of the Redeemer.
The program is titled “Merry, Merry, Sarasota!” and includes classical music associated with the holidays, plus seasonal favorites. Featured soloists on the program will be Johanna Fincher, soprano; Aaron Romm, trumpet and Nicholas Arbolino, English horn. Robert Vodnoy is the music director and conductor of the eighteen-piece orchestra.
The program will open with Niels Gade’s “Christmas Eve Suite.” This charming suite is based on children’s piano pieces. The final movement is a setting of a Christmas poem by Hans Christian Anderson which will be sung by Johanna Fincher. She will also sing Allesandro Scarlatti’s “Christmas Cantata” and Humperdinck’s “Sandman Song and Evening Prayer” from “Hansel and Gretel. The Scarlatti cantata was composed to be performed during the Christmas season in the great Roman houses of the 18th century. The charming text, written by Cardinal Antonio Ottoboni, tells the story of the Nativity. Humperdinck’s “Sandman Song and Evening Prayer” occurs in Act I, as Hansel and Gretel — lost in the woods — prepare to go to sleep. The lovely prayer calls upon the Angels to watch over them.
Three short classical masterpieces form the heart of the program. The first is Richard Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll.” The great German opera composer wrote this charming tone poem as a birthday present to his wife Cosima Liszt Wagner, whose birthday is on Christmas Eve. Wagner surprised her with this birthday/Christmas present which he performed with a group of musician-friends at dawn in their home in Tribschen. The second classical selection on the concert will be Haydn’s “Symphony No. 26.” This brief and emotional symphony was known for many years as Haydn’s “Christmas Symphony.”
Also featured on the program will be Aaron Copland’s “Quiet City,” a gorgeous tone poem for trumpet, English horn and strings, based on music Copland wrote for a play of the same title. The evocative music ranges from Copland’s Americana style to passages which are jazz- and blues- inspired. Soloists for the work will be Aaron Romm, trumpet and Nicholas Arbolino, English horn.
Romm has performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and South Korea. Recent performances include premiering his own arrangement of “Carnival of Venice” with The Venice Symphony, Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 2” with the Sarasota Orchestra, and performances with the Puerto Rican Brass Ensemble during the 2019 Puerto Rican Brass Festival. Nicholas Arbolino plays Second Oboe/English horn with the Sarasota Orchestra. He is also the principal oboe of the Charlottesville Opera and has appeared as a soloist with the Las Colinas Symphony.
Three seasonal favorites round out this holiday program. “A Mad Russian Christmas” is a mash-up of tunes from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” created by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and including “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Trepak.” Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — with music from the classic TV animated feature — brings a jazzy, light touch to the program, with piano solo by Ann Stephenson-Moe. The program concludes with a beautiful arrangement of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” by Bruce Chase.
There will be a free meet-the-artists reception after the concert. Tickets are $25/adults and $15/students.
The musicians of the chamber orchestra are professional musicians who play in some of the area’s finest ensembles, including the Sarasota Orchestra, Venice Symphony and the Florida Orchestra. The orchestra focuses on performing music composed for small orchestra, performing in a small and intimate space. The Church of the Redeemer, with its soaring architecture and resounding acoustics, is a perfect performance space for the chamber orchestra, according to Robert Vodnoy.