Making a spectacle at Christmastime
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Making a spectacle at Christmastime

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, certainly more than it did in the summer when preparations began for the Yuletide Spectacular on stage this weekend at the Centre In The Square.

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s new assistant conductor, takes charge of the annual Yuletide Spectacular, a smorgasbord of all things Christmas on this weekend at the Centre In The Square.
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s new assistant conductor, takes charge of the annual Yuletide Spectacular, a smorgasbord of all things Christmas on this weekend at the Centre In The Square.

Requiring the efforts of several performing groups, the show offers up everything short of the kitchen sink – and there just might be one of those somewhere – to fuel the Christmas spirit.
Part of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s Pops Series, the show includes performances by Grand Philharmonic Choir and Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir and the Carousel Dance Company. In addition, the KWS Youth Orchestra will perform side-by-side with the KWS.
More than 200 performers will take the stage, including local tenor and Waterloo Regional Police detective Brian Duyn, who lends his vocal talents for classic carol “O Holy Night,” and beloved favourites “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
“It’s probably one of the biggest spectacles of the year, certainly that we’re hosting,” says Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the symphony’s new assistant conductor who’s overseeing this weekend’s festive offerings.
“I just love Christmas, so this is a lot of fun.”
Also on the program are dancers from Carousel Dance Company, Saskia Fowler, Amelia Harvey and Jamie Cottle as narrators, and an audience sing-a-long.
“This will be my first time conducting this concert and, from what I’ve heard, it is a highlight of the season every year,” said Bartholomew-Poyser. “Audiences can expect a real variety of holiday music and maybe even a surprise visit from someone who wears a bright red suit – it’s going to be so much fun and I can’t wait to share it with our KWS audiences.”
In the planning stages for months given all the groups that have to be coordinated, the concert contains a variety of pieces and styles that have been brought together into a whole. It’s a real mix, with orchestral music, choirs, story-telling, humour, dance (including the Nutcracker ballet) and audience participation.
“A concert is like a meal – it has to have a flow to it,” he said, with the acts coming like courses in a meal, not one big chunk. “There are many pieces. You have to find the appropriate flow, the appropriate timing and the right balance.
“There’s something in it for everyone.”
Audiences will be treated to a mix of old and new holiday favourites – including “Sleigh Ride,” “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” plus a sing-along with the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir.
There will be plenty of familiar tunes and stories, even for those venturing out for the first time to see a symphony show. Along with classical pieces such as “O Holy Night,” there’ll be singing about a certain red-nosed reindeer and music from the soundtrack of the movie Home Alone. The concert opens with Mozart’s Sleigh Ride – “It’s very charming. It’s fun and it’s fanfare-ish” – and also includes the more familiar Leroy Anderson version.
“For people who come out, it’s going to be a fun night of performances. The majority of it is going to be familiar stuff,” said Bartholomew-Poyser, noting the goal is putting together an uplifting, emotional show.
“Listening to live music is a completely different experience. The hope is that people leave the concert different than they came in.”
The Yuletide Spectacular runs December 19 at 8 p.m., December 20 at 2:30 and 8 p.m. and December 21 at 2:30 p.m. at the Centre In The Square in Kitchener. Tickets are $11-$91 (with child, student and senior’s pricing), available online at www.kwsymphony.ca or by calling 519-745-4711 or 888-745-4717.

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