King George had fleas (but forgot to bring his dog :)


Callum reviews the December 11, 2011 Holiday Pops concert by the CSO…

My whole family and I went to the Canton Symphony Holiday Pops concert last Sunday, including my grandma and grandpa (but they had seats somewhere else). We all really loved the concert. It was really nice to enjoy it together as a family. The music was great of course, and one of the things that made it so great was how well they played it. I also think that, ever since I’ve been to the Canton Symphony concerts, this is the funniest Gerhardt Zimmermann has ever been at a concert. Now, I don’t mean that’s as funny as he gets, just that it’s the funniest he’s been out of all the times I have seen him… but more about that later.

The first thing they played was the Christmas Festival Overture by Leroy Anderson. It was a mix of some of the many Christmas songs like Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells, and O Come All Ye Faithful. I loved it, and my dad seemed to be excited about it too. He says he grew up listening to a Boston Pops record with a longer version of it (that was just called Christmas Festival). The overture was only for orchestra, but the second piece was for orchestra and choir. The choir was actually three choirs from different high schools (Canton McKinley, Canton South, and GlenOak), but more about that later too. The piece was called “Gloria in excelsis Deo” in the program, and when I saw that, I thought it was going to sound like the music in Angels We Have Heard on High, but it was completely different. It was by Vivaldi, and I’ve never heard it before, but it was awesome. The next one was called Home for Christmas, and I loved it too. The program said that the piece was written by Glenn Gould, but my dad said he was a famous pianist, and Mr. Zimmermann said it was by Morton Gould. I don’t remember hearing any familiar Christmas tunes in it. There might have been some, but not that I remember. I do remember that the piece had some really cool chords.

The next three pieces were only for choir, without any instruments, and my dad said that’s called “a cappella.” They were also not directed by Mr. Zimmermann. They were conducted by the choir directors from the 3 schools instead. The first piece was Carol of the Bells, and of course, I loved it. Ever since I have heard Carol of the Bells, I have loved it. I was kind of expecting to hear bells ringing, but it’s only for choir, so there weren’t any. But they sang like bells, especially at the end. It was directed by Alexandra Hovland. Then Amy Bush directed O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which was beautiful. And then there was Deck the Halls, directed by Brian Kieffer, who is a friend with my dad from college. The choirs sounded really good. Then Mr. Zimmermann came back to conduct. The next piece was Candlelight Carol by John Rutter. Mr. Zimmermann said it is his favorite Christmas song. Then they did Star Carol, which was also by John Rutter. My dad is a big fan of Mr. Rutter. He says his music is really good.

The last piece before intermission was Christmas Memories. In the middle of Mr. Zimmermann conducting it, Mrs. Mullaly (the Interim Executive Director) came out on stage with Santa clothes in her hands. And do you know what she did? She told Mr. Zimmermann to put the Santa costume on in front of the whole place. He even had to stop conducting, but even though he stopped, the orchestra kept on playing and playing until he said to stop. When he said that, he didn’t only say stop, but he said that they were playing too fast. He was so funny while he put the Santa costume on! After he put it on, he looked very uncomfortable. So, he went off stage and let the orchestra (with no conducter) finish off the piece. Then, there was intermission.

After intermission, the first piece was Winter Wonderland. When Mr. Zimmermann came back to conduct this one, he wasn’t wearing the Santa costume. I wasn’t expecting him to though, because after all, he didn’t look very comfortable in it. I don’t think anyone would be. The next piece after that was called Music for a December Day. It was written by the conductor of the Canton Youth Symphony, and I really liked it. I think it was the longest piece on the concert, and it was beautiful. It really sounded like a December day! His name is Eric Benjamin, and I got to meet him after the end of the concert. He was really nice. The next thing was a Christmas sing-along. It was so fun. And it was so funny too at first, because Mr. Zimmermann acted like we weren’t singing very well, and stopped us at the beginning and said he didn’t have any place he had to go after the concert so he could spend all day until we got it right! Everyone was laughing so much, as usual. When we started singing again, it sounded a lot better. Everyone was singing louder. We sang Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Deck the Halls, and O Come, All Ye Faithful.

The last piece was the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. It’s one of my many favorite pieces of music. Mr. Zimmermann told a really funny story before it. Here it is. In England, a long time ago when Handel was alive, he said they took some kind of dog (I didn’t hear what kind) and took blood from its paw. They put the blood in a bottle and then tied the bottle around the dog’s neck. They thought that by doing that, if you own that dog, that it will take the fleas from you to the dog (because people didn’t take very many baths back then!). But he made a joke that the king forgot to take his dog with him to a concert. In the middle of the concert, he stood up because of his fleas, and so that meant everybody had to stand. You’re probably wondering what that has to do with the Hallelujah Chorus, right? Well, they were playing the Messiah at that concert, and he stood up right before they sang the Hallelujah Chorus. And that’s why we always stand when it’s played. So his joke was that it was all because the king (King George II) had fleas, but forgot to bring his dog!

Then they did two pieces for encores. The first one was Sleigh Ride (by Leroy Anderson, the guy who wrote the first piece in the program, Christmas Festival Overture). I recognized it. I really loved what the percussionists played that sounded like jingle bells, and then one of them started clapping these blocks of wood together. They’re supposed to sound like the whips, and they do. And I love how the trumpet sounds like a horse at the end. The second encore was really short. All it was was the beginning of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and then after it, Mr. Zimmermann said “that’s all folks!” And now, I guess that that’s all folks for this blog post! We’re going to the Canton Symphony Chorus Holiday concert this Sunday, so there will be another post before Christmas, but still, my dad and I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year! 🙂

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