Reviews ...

Christmas Pops - a happy time

... Symphony concert sells-out

by Jackie Wattenberg

Yoichi Udagawa has made two December nights in to a tradition of holiday celebration - Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 were
both sell-outs for the Melrose Symphony.

Always-familiar Christmas and a little Hanukkah music, light and popular. Serious music lovers may seek heavier
fare, but not the cheering throngs who celebrate these programs every year.

This year it seemed more children were wandering around at intermission, holding cups of juice or cookies, or,
with little boys, just running around. The brightness and lightness of the music performed is surely developing
interests of future serious music lovers. How lucky we are to have our very own symphony orchestra - with a
conductor who has made it into its present quality and besides that, can be a lot of fun!

Yes, there was the annual joke - always a good one! Close to concert's end we had a fear that Yoichi was NOT
going to flaunt his silly hat - the one that has flaps that jump up and down in tempo to his music, but finally
on it came! And there was a good selection of carols for us all to sing as stage-top snow fell as usual.

The program began classically enough with Mozart, his "Magic Flute" Overture, followed quickly by a vigorous
playing of Herbert's "March of the Toys," and then the charming and rather touching "Little Drummer Boy."
The conductor turned to praise trumpeter Randy O'Keefe, who would be playing "Trumpeter's Lullaby," by Leroy
Anderson, which the trumpeter played with his oft-heard beauty, fervor and easy rhythm.
After intermission a small group of singers came onstage without introduction, and a man strode back and forth
belting out a pop song vehemently - loudly - suitable for Memorial Hall and during a symphony program? Shocking!
But then the group of four men and a girl in short sparkling red dress huddled together for an amazing tight and
tense harmony - they created a close, mellow sound that was not the usual and not disturbing - tricky minor and
half-diminished chords and their own taut inventions, which were original and fascinating. The Overboard Vocals
is their name, and they won great applause.
Always a tribute to Hanukkah, well done, and on to Christmas with the annual sing-along, this time carols played
handsomely by the orchestra. Yes, the Silly-Hat finally came on to laughter from the big audience, and Yoichi's
annual joke - too long to repeat here, but it was a dandy!
Surprisingly, considering the many children present at this popular event, there were no distractions during the
music played. A Christmas gift to the whole family! And to all of us.

Reprinted with permission from the Melrose Free Press January 2,2014..

January 3, 2014


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