LSM Newswire

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Full Program Announced for Portland Symphony Orchestra's 30th Magic of Christmas

PSO Music Director Robert Moody conducts Magic for the first time with many new program additions


PORTLAND, Maine – For 30 years, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO)'s Magic of Christmas productions have brightened the holidays of thousands of New Englanders. This season, for PSO Music Director Robert Moody's first year leading the Magic performances, the Symphony will continue this joyful tradition while adding exciting new elements that are sure to enchant those who've been coming for 30 years as well as those who are new to Magic. Eleven performances of Magic of Christmas will run from December 11 to December 20 at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street in Portland.

30th anniversary Magic highlights:
Magic memories this year will range from fun and spirited to solemn and sacred. There's something for everyone as the PSO evokes the spirit, story and traditions of Christmas.

Favorite Magic traditions:
• "Sleigh Ride" returns – always a favorite of PSO musicians and audiences alike. Each year, Magic attendees anticipate the lively crack of the whip and the sleigh bells jingling as the musicians try to outdo each other with their festive and comical attire.
• The lively audience sing-along to some favorite Christmas tunes lets audience members lift their own voices at each performance.
• Carols and holiday tunes sung by the Portland Community Chorus, this year including Many Moods of Christmas and the beautiful "O Holy Night."
New Magic traditions:
• Freeport's Figures of Speech Theatre (FST) has been commissioned to create dramatic and imaginative puppetry figures for a condensed adaptation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. With an accompanying musical score by Michael Runyan, dancers animate the puppets and perform multiple roles while a solo actor provides the story's narration and character voices. The PSO expects this to be a centerpiece of Magic for years to come, and each year will commission a new set of puppets to build the "cast of characters."
• Dancers will form a Rockettes-style kickline of dancing Santas, sure to add a sensationally fun element to the show.
• At the Sunday 1:00 PM matinees, students from the Maine Suzuki Association will perform for audience members before the concert begins. At all other performances, audiences will enjoy the traditional Kotzschmar Organ Prelude Concert.
2009 Magic guest artists include:
• Magic of Christmas concert soloist Joe Cassidy, tenor, has been seen on NBC's Law & Order as well as on Broadway as Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and in 1776, Les Misérables and A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden. As a concert soloist he has performed with over fifteen symphony orchestras around the country. In addition to crooning throughout Magic, Cassidy will narrate a choreographed retelling of the Nativity, and he and Maestro Moody even have a special duet surprise planned!
• Figures of Speech Theatre (FST), the creators of the larger-than-life puppetry figures for Magic in 2009, explores the interplay of puppets, actors, shadows, music, movement and masks, believing that audiences experience art most vitally when they are called upon to engage their imaginations fully. The company produces visual theater that emphasizes myth, metaphor and transformation. They have performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution and the New Victory Theatre on Broadway and they are a four-time recipient of the coveted UNIMA Citation of Excellence, the highest distinction in American puppet theatre.
• The Portland Community Chorus, conducted for Dr. Richard Nickerson, consists of over 150 singers as annual members. They will join the stage at Magic after intermission for rousing renditions of classics such as "O Holy Night" and more, as well as leading the audience in the annual favorite audience sing-along.
• New this year, the PSO has assembled the Magic of Christmas Dancers from local companies and studios throughout southern Maine. The dancers are Bethany Field, Jeff Decareau, Hilary Melcher Chapman, Jennifer Bourgeault, Ren Morrill, Michelle Bernier and Vincent Ratsavong.
Many more surprises await at this year's 30th anniversary of PSO's Magic of Christmas, sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets, IDEXX Laboratories and Northeast Delta Dental.

Magic of Christmas tickets start at just $25 and can be purchased online at www.porttix.com, by phone at 207-842-0800, or at the PortTix box office, 20 Myrtle St., Monday through Saturday from noon to 6:00 PM. Discounts for most performances are available for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. New this year, "Magic" Magic tickets are available: if there are concerns about the weather, these tickets can be exchanged for other Magic performances (restrictions apply). Phone and internet orders are subject to $6 per-ticket PortTix handling fee, and all tickets include a $2 Merrill Restoration fee.

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Full list of 2009 PSO Magic of Christmas performance dates and times:
Kotzschmar Organ Prelude begins one hour before each concert except for the Sunday 1:00 PM matinees which will feature students from the Maine Suzuki Association.
• Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
• Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
• Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM
• Friday, December 18, 2009 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
• Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
• Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM

2009 PSO Magic of Christmas full program:
Beckel: Christmas Fanfare
Anderson: Christmas Festival Overture
Torme/Wells arr.: The Christmas Song (with singer)
Tchaikovsky: "Trepak" from The Nutcracker
Runyan: A Christmas Carol (with narrator, dancers and puppets)
Shaw/Bennet: Many Moods of Christmas, Suite IV (with chorus)
Massenet: Meditation from Thaïs (with dancers)
Reading: "One Solitary Life" (over Ravel's "The Enchanted Garden")
Adam/Rutter: O Holy Night (with singer)
Anderson: Sleigh Ride
Tchaikovsky/Moody: Sugar Plum, the Oratorio (comedy duet)
Finnegan, arr.: Christmas Sing-a-Long (with audience and chorus)
Foster: My Grown-up Christmas List (with singer)
Santa Dance Medley
Ades, arr.: Let There Be Peace on Earth (full cast)

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