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Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380
joelrich@pacificsymphony.org

Celebrate the season with the king of instruments, virtuoso organist Todd Wilson, Broadway star Lisa Vroman and Pacific Symphony musicians for "Holiday Organ Spectacular"

December 05, 2012

Enveloping the audience in a magnitude of musical splendors, the $3.1-million William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, played by world-renowned organist Todd Wilson, captures the beauty, range and colors of popular and traditional holiday music during Pacific Symphony's annual "Holiday Organ Spectacular." Unique arrangements illuminate the talent of Wilson, Broadway star Lisa Vroman and accompanying principal Symphony musicians: Benjamin Smolen, flute; Barry Perkins, trumpet and Mindy Ball, harp. Joining the Symphony for the third year, Wilson, head of the organ department at The Cleveland Institute of Music and curator of the E.M. Skinner pipe organ at Severance Hall, also performs organ works by Bach and Handel. This concert takes place one night only, Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, with the Foothill High Dickens Carolers serenading an hour before the concert begins. Tickets are $25-75; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

"This will be a wonderful and unique combination of musical arrangements customized for this particular concert," says singing sensation Vroman, who starred for several years on Broadway as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera." "The organ is an amazing instrument and able to create so many different sounds and colors; in a way, it is its own orchestra! The main difference in singing with the organ is that I will be on a microphone to compete with the organ's sound, which is immense in the hall. But it's not only me onstage with the organ. We also have Ben Smolen, Barry Perkins and Mindy Ball. It's a pleasure to make music with just a few instruments and give the audience a more intimate look at the collaboration—and a chance to hear some of their favorite members of Pacific Symphony shine on their own!"

The program features well-known and cherished Christmas songs including: Handel's "Let the Bright Seraphim," from "Samson," "O Holy Night" "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Sleigh Ride," "Let It Snow," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and much more! Furthering the yuletide spirit, the audience is invited to join the performers in singing along to classic holiday favorites "The Holly and the Ivy," "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World."

Symphony Flutist Smolen offers some thoughts on his instrument's role in traditional Christmas music: "One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Eve service growing up was hearing the choir sing the descant lines to my favorite carols like 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing.' The flute often takes on this role, especially in music of the holiday season, adding soaring counter-melodies to familiar carols. I think the combination of organ, flute, trumpet and harp is especially poignant given the significance of all these instruments in Biblical literature and in the history of the church. Music was an important part of Biblical life, and flutes, trumpets and harps often took center stage in important festivals and praise. The combination with organ recalls that instrument's long history in church life and the countless sacred works it has inspired over the centuries.

"I think audience members will really enjoy discovering some of the beautiful but lesser-known carols we are preparing, and also participating in the sing-alongs of many Christmas favorites such as 'Deck the Halls' and 'Silent Night,'" Smolen continues. "The sense of community and celebration should make for a really special, festive experience."

Regarded across America and around the world as one of today's finest concert organists, Wilson is the director of music and worship at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland. He also serves as house organist for the newly restored Aeolian organ at the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio. He has performed in major cities throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, including concerts at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, UK, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Severance Hall in Cleveland, Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and Uihlein Hall in Milwaukee. His latest CDs on the JAV label feature a live recital of American music from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and "Live from Severence Hall," a concert of music for trumpet and organ.

Vroman garnered Theatre Critic's awards for her Broadway role as Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" during a record-breaking run in San Francisco, and she also had a return engagement at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. In 2008, Vroman made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops, starred as Lili Vanessi in "Kiss Me Kate" with Glimmerglass Opera, sang the role of Birdie in "Regina" with Utah Opera, made her New Jersey Opera debut as Rosalinda in "Die Fledermaus," and premiered two Comic Operas by composers John Musto and William Bolcom with the New York Festival of Song. She is a frequent guest soloist with major theatre and opera companies as well as orchestras.

The Pedals and Pipes organ series is generously sponsored by Valerie and Barry Hon.