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Firelands Symphony presenting annual Christmas show

By Tandem Media Network • Dec 6, 2018 at 2:00 PM

SANDUSKY — The Firelands Symphony Orchestra’s popular annual holiday concert returns at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Sandusky State Theatre.

The orchestra and conductor Carl Topilow will be joined by the Firelands Symphony Chorale, led by Michael Shirtz, the Caryl Crane Youth Theatre and local singer Gracie Keener. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will greet the concertgoers by handing them candy canes as they go inside the theater.

The Firelands Symphony Chorale, which has 75 singers, will come to the stage in a candlelight procession. By tradition, this recalls the old days when people came to church on Christmas Eve, bearing candles or lanterns to light the way, said Michael Shirtz, the chorale’s director.

The chorale will perform for much of the show with the orchestra.

There will be traditional favorite tunes, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

The chorale’s performance also will include a Hanukkah song, “Hanerot Halalu,” accompanied by Topilow on clarinet, and a piece called “Gloria” by modern composer Randol Bass that’s a favorite of Shirtz.

There will also be a performance of an African “Noel,” accompanied by the orchestra’s percussion section.

Shirtz said he’s enthusiastic about being part of the Christmas show, doing old favorites as well as introducing new songs.

“I love Christmas. I just love the music this time of year,” he said.

Also during the show, Warren Brown will narrate “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” And 22 members of The Caryl Crane Youth Theatre, directed by Brian Marshall, will perform “Christmas on Broadway.”

Gracie Keener, 18, Wakeman, will sing “The Christmas Song.”

It’s a classic that’s been done by many singers, but Keener said she has a particular favorite recording, by jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.

“Her Christmas album is my favorite,” Keener said. “I think she’s the best female voice in history.”

Keener, the sister of pop singer Emily Keener, hopes to make a career in musical theater and is busy trying out for college musical theater programs.

She said she’s applying for 22 very competitive programs.

“You have to be very prepared and audition for a bunch of them,” she said.


WHAT: Firelands Symphony Orchestra holiday pops concert.

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The concert talk is 3 p.m.

WHERE: Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Avenue, Sandusky.

TICKETS: Call the FSO at 419-621-4800 or online at firelandssymphony.com/tickets. Or buy tickets one hour before the show in the theater lobby.

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