Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Jazz for Children

Several members of The Metropolitan Chorus, along with members of the Alfred Street Baptist Choirs and Westminster Presbyterian Church Choir, helped comprise the chorus for the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO’s) Children’s Holiday Concert.The program was held at Alfred Street Baptist Church, with some 500 in attendance. Everyone had a wonderful time, enjoying the various jazz selections, Christmas carol sing-along, and reception of holiday treats. Mind you, this was not ASO’s full orchestra, but a 15-member jazz powerhouse featuring various sax, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drum.

The program began with ASO’s ever-energetic Kim Kluge conducting Duke Ellington’s arrangement of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite (Op 71a). Ellington arranged an adaptation of the suite for his orchestra in 1960, featuring selections such as Toot Toot Tootsie Toot (aka Dance of the Reed-Flutes), Peanut Brittle Brigade (aka March), and Sugar Rum Cherry (aka Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy). To help foster the children’s imagination, Kluge also read excerpts from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, the fairy tale on which the ballet was based.

The program continued with up-tempo jazz arrangements of Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Sleigh Ride, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Then the chorus helped lead the audience in a sing-along of Christmas carols including O Come, All Ye Faithful; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Joy To The World; Silent Night; Deck the Halls; Jingle Bells; and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. And what children's concert would not be complete without Santa Claus!

Founded in 1803, Alfred Street Baptist Church is home to the oldest African American congregation in Alexandria and has served as a prominent religious, educational, and cultural institution. During its 205-year history, the church has had only eight pastors.

In appreciation of the concert, members of the Alfred Street Baptist Choirs extended invitations to The Holy Night, a Christmas festival of music, drama, liturgical dance ministries, and carol sing-along to be held at the church on Sunday, December 21 at 5 pm.

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