Folsom Symphony taps into the Christmas spirit

High school chamber singers join in for concert
By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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What: Folsom Symphony presents Of Joy and Fate
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Where: Three Stages Performing Arts Center at
Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
Tickets: $20 - $55

If you’re in need of a fast infusion of holiday spirit this month, the Folsom Symphony has you covered.

It’s the group’s ninth season of bringing music to the area, and their winter concert, Of Joy and Fate, is designed to bring out the festive and the joyous in every heart this season.

If you’ve never heard Christmas Festival, a piece that blends nine holiday favorites into one lively romp, then you’re in for a treat. The piece was originally composed for Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler in the 1950s and has been thrilling audiences ever since.

It’s always hard for Maestro Michael Neumann to select his favorites for the holiday performance.

“I look at a concert of this nature as a very upbeat, holiday time. I choose music that reflects the season,” Neumann said. “Some pieces are very classical – like Beethoven and Rimsky-Korsakov, and some are traditional favorites, like the pieces we will perform for the audience sing-a-long.”

And this year, the symphony has added a new element – Folsom High School’s Chamber Singers will join the symphony for Handel’s Messiah.

Neumann is especially excited for the audience to hear the choir and orchestra together for Brahms’ Song of Fate, which will be sung in German.

“The choir is just going to add even more variety, and I’m excited for the audience to experience it,” Neumann said. “I think the public will really enjoy them. “It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle. There are all sorts of groups that would love to perform with a full orchestra, and many groups never get the chance to do so. It’s a great opportunity for the choir, and a treat for us.”

The chamber choir’s director, Ginger Ekroth, is excited about her students’ opportunity to sing with the symphony, as well.

“This is a really big deal. We started looking at music selection, and working on the pieces months ago,” Ekroth said. “Performing with a full orchestra and working on music that’s sung in German – it’s a big work for high school kids to be doing.”

But the real treat will be for audiences, as they hear complex works like Beethoven’s Fidelio, his only opera, and Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, a piece that was written for George II of England to celebrate the 1749 signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chappelle. Even livelier works, like Johann Strauss’ Radetzky March and the junior Strauss’ Tritsch Tratsch Polka are on tap for the evening, as well.

“All of these classical works require intensive effort to put the music together in a cohesive way,” Neumann said. “It’s like a sports team – team members have to get together and practice. Everything has to be perfectly coordinated in order to have a great performance.”

But audience’s favorites might also be the less complex – traditional Christmas carols that beg for a sing-a-long.

“There will be lots of variety, lots of audience participation, and lots of joy,” Neumann said. “This concert is very family-friendly – there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

While Neumann encourages kids, teens and young adults to join in the fun, board member, Bruce Woodbury, loves the fact that audiences come out to support the symphony in droves.

“The Folsom Symphony is a gift to the community, and we are so blessed with the strong attendance we have, and the support of the community,” Woodbury said.