As we walked into Heinz Hall, the holiday spirit was everywhere, but especially in the Grand Lobby that held a beautiful large Christmas tree and a grand golden menorah. Concert goers were all around, admiring décor and snapping selfies by the tree. The festive décor continued into the main hall, where the stages was adorned with four trees and many beautiful wreaths.
A few minutes past 8 o’clock, a voice came over the loudspeaker and announced “Welcome to Heinz Hall, home of YOUR Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!” Those simple words resonated with the entire crowd, as it burst into a round of applause the lasted through the entire announcement.
Like most typical holiday homecomings, this one for the orchestra included friends and special guests. The musicians were joined on stage by Capathia Jenkins, a talented vocalist who has sung around the world, Christopher Sanders, a “jolly ole” special guest, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, students from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre school and musicians in the group the Three Rivers Ringers. The symphony was conducted by Francesco Leece-Chong as they performed a mix of traditional and modern pieces. Many songs included special holiday touches, like snow falling from the ceiling during the opening “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, the charming Santa Claus himself appearing after “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” was performed, and the audience standing up and joining in a classic sing-along.
The music and the vibe at Heinz Hall was filled with spirit, talent and excitement. If this serves as a preview of what 2017 will bring for the symphony, we should all be full of hope and excitement. Like the song “Somewhere in My Memory” that the orchestra and the Mendelssohn Choir performed, my first Highmark Holiday Pops concert was a great memory that I look forward to making a holiday tradition for years to come!