Changes at the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Holiday Pops promise to offer “fresh musical experience”

Guest conductor Rick Bower of Markle guides the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in “Sleigh Ride” during the Holiday Pops in 2016. The Holiday Pops event is getting a makeover for this year.( file photo)

“A fresh musical experience” is how Assistant Conductor Caleb Young describes this year’s Holiday Pops program. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic will be giving five different Holiday Pops performances in Fort Wayne, at the Embassy Theatre, starting on Friday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.

“There is so much great music to be explored for Christmas time!” he exclaimed.

There will be plenty of material that the audience will recognize. But there will be some new innovations – such as the art work by Kevan Loney. “This young man is an absolute genius,” Young said, enthusiastically. Loney creates animations that are projected as the orchestra plays, to illustrate different themes.

For example, the theme of the Holiday Pops this year is going to be “viewing Christmas through different shop windows,” Young stated. The narrative for this theme was created by Greg Stieber, who has also worked on other Philharmonic Holiday Pops concerts. The program covers an evolving view of Christmas seen from the perspective of a young boy. It begins in the 1920s. The boy experiences Christmas as a youth, then as he is sent off to war and then when he is able to come back home again.

“It’s important for us to keep everything family friendly,” Young noted. The storyline of the concert gives it what Young calls a “9-90 narrative,” making it appealing to those of all ages.

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Chorus, the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and Youth Chorale and the cast of the Holiday Pops lead a singalong with the audience at the Embassy Theatre on in 2016. The Holiday Pops event is getting a makeover for this year ( file photo)

The music, too, is something that has Young excited. The orchestra will be doing a number of works by Carmen Dragon, an American composer and conductor. “Away in a Manger,” “The First Noel,” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” are some of Dragon’s pieces that will be included. “(Dragon has) some of the most beautiful, lush, Hollywood-sounding arrangements,” Young said. “We’re going to get that really glitzy sound(.)”

The Fort Wayne Children’s Choir will make an appearance, led by Jonathan Busarow. And there will be a new soloist on stage: Mike Eldred. “He’s really been all over… He has an amazing voice!” Young introduced the Broadway singer. There will also be a 12-14 member choir made up of singers contracted from Chicago. Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus Director Ben Rivera, has been instrumental in creating this new group just for the Holiday Pops.

Santa Claus, of course, will be part of the program, and music from the movie, “The Polar Express.” The overture from Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera, “Hansel and Gretel” will also be on the program, as well as a sing-along, a variation of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and Adrian Mann’s “Lightsongs.” “We have something for everyone,” Young said.

This new program is one that lets the Philharmonic musicians “flex their muscles,” as Young put it. But it is also designed to preserve the wonderful sentiment that the spirit of the season can bring to all audience members.


What: The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Holiday Pops

Where: The Embassy Theatre

When: December 8, 9, 16 (Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., afternoon concerts 2 p.m.

Cost: $29-$72

For more information, click HERE or call (260) 481-0777